Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao writes to new Black Stars head coach Kwesi Appiah and he shares a few thoughts with Appiah on how Ghana can win again.
Hello Mr. Kwesi Appiah, Congrats on your appointment (or re-appointment) as Black Stars coach. I wish you well in your new job.
I am sure by now, you may have heard that I did not think you should coach the team.
My preference was for Hugo Broos and I stood by that until the Ghana FA made the announcement on Tuesday.
My stance was never personal. It was my belief and I am sure you understand that.
Now that we know you are in charge and you have until May 1 to start work officially, kindly allow me to tell you a few things I would like you to do so that the Black Stars, our pride when it comes to football, can get to the top once again.
Managing a team is never easy but once you have this job, you must show that you are ready to the tough things to bring success.
In your first term, the players called you “The Silent Killer” meaning that you were easy on the eye but you had a mean streak underneath.
If you still have that name, please show that nature to the team.
If not, revisit that mode to get this team to work.
I was at the 2017 AFCON tournament in Gabon and I was mortified watching players ride roughshod over their team-mates on the pitch and nothing was done by your predecessor, Avram Grant.
If you want to go places with this team, then you must draw the line and take the needed decisions. Show them that you run this team and let the players know that they are to respect every instruction from you.
I have heard that you want to ‘purge’ the team. Please go ahead. Throw out the deadwood, the ineffective, the lazy and the trouble causers. Have a clear idea on call-ups and please stand by it. Let players earn their places and let them understand that no one is untouchable.
Give more opportunities to the young players who are on the fringes of the team. Bring them in, give them more minutes, let them make their mistakes but most importantly, let them know that you have confidence in them. Hugo Broos did that and it worked for him in the 2017 AFCON.
We no longer have time for crying episodes and Mr. Nice Guy. The stakes have gone twenty-fold.
The second thing I ask of you is to show tactical maturity and improvement. That is my greatest worry and it gave me a lot of angst whenever your name came up in relation to the Black Stars.
You see, your job as a coach is premised on certain things: plotting for matches, reading and reacting to the tactics of opponents and emerging victorious at the end of the day. In your first term, I noticed that tactically, we were behind our foes and more often than not, we were easy to read and that allowed teams to go ahead or come back in matches.
One major challenge was with crosses and set pieces. I will take you back to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to our first game against the USA.
We conceded after 29 seconds, we struggled to equalise after 82 minutes and four minutes later, we gave away a goal to John Brooks who headed in from a corner.
‘Where is he going?‘, you may ask.
Well, I am going to the fact that we conceded from two very preventable situations especially the corner kick.
Think about this: the then USA coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, said Brooks’ goal was a result of constant work in training. Why did they do that? Perhaps, they had noticed our problems in defence and they came prepared. Some may say once was just a coincidence. Fine.
But what about when we conceded similar goals in the matches against Germany and Portugal? Germany pulled even through a Miroslav Klose poke at the back post after Benedikt Howedes headed it towards goal. Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal against us came after Fatau Dauda bundled a cross.
We had challenges and over the course of three games, we did not do anything about them. In 2013 AFCON, we had midfield problems against DR Congo and Burkina Faso yet the technical team, which you led, failed to respond and we did not the results we wanted. It is a new chance for all of us to get it right now.
You were named Best Coach in Sudan in your time there. I believe you deserved it. It is now time to show us that you have picked up a few more things and we can count on you and your bench to come up with a tactical tweak that will help us win a friendly, qualifier and a final when the time comes.
The final thing I ask is that you should help in rebuilding our football structure. This may be more of the Ghana FA’s work but I believe that you can play a part now that you are Black Stars head coach.
You have the power to design a template or a playing style for the Black Stars and impress on the FA’s technical directorate (which has not been too functional, in my opinion) to teach it to the age-restricted teams. Whenever I mention countries like Spain and Germany, many people say their contexts are too far away from us but why do we have other countries including Mali following similar principles? We need to get more serious and re-work our football so that we can win in the long term.
Mr. Appiah, I believe you have an important role in this. The change may come in a few years but you can turn the wheel first so that we can start moving. Let me end here for now.
Once again, congrats on your new job. I wish you the best.
Please do your job well because I will do mine well too. I will praise very much when you score high marks and I will equally criticise you for getting things wrong. It is never personal. You and I are on the same side of the “Ghana Must Win Again” War and we must succeed.
By a sports-reporting citizen, Nathan Quao