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Black Stars woes: The end result of a total system failure

Ghana failed to reach the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations for the first time since 2006, after losing to Tunisia on penalties last Monday.

Black Stars woes: The end result of a total system failure

Ghana has always been a major force to reckon with, after winning the AFCON in their debut campaign in 1963, which was hosted in Ghana, and has since clinched the coveted trophy four times.

The West African football powerhouse has produced enormous quality talent from their junior national teams - Black Starlets and Satellites - into the Black Stars in recent times as a result of good policies.

The Black Stars‘ failure reveals a deepening crust of problems confronting football in Ghana that have been ignored but need urgent addressing.

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The football Association and government have both failed to put in place the necessary policies, infrastructure and resources to develop football in the country.

The Former football Association President Mr. Kwesi Nyantekyi was last year caught on camera initiating unethical businesses, and conducts which led to him being banned from football for life. 

Prior to the investigation by Ace journalists, Anas Armeyaw Anas, allegations of corruption were widespread in the media landscape but were refuted by the former CAF 1st Vice President.

The past leadership also failed to document a policy for football development.

Ghana football is currently administered by a Normalization Committee headed by Dr. Kofi Amoah who has performed below expectation.

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The next Football Association leadership must ensure proper documentation of a football policy from juvenile to the senior level. The leadership must provide coded football polices which will serve as a framework for their activities.

The government must also provide favorable environment, funding and infrastructural development to help develop football and sports in general.

Uncle Ben Koufie drew the five-year development plan for Ghana football in 2001, which resulted in Black Stars first World Cup qualification in 2006 after he assumed office as the chairman of the Football Association.

The development plan served as a guide and framework of football.

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Ghana currently lacks coded football principles and policy to guide the technical development of football since Ben Koufie’s five-year development plan was implemented.

After almost two decades, a development plan is needed to salvage Ghana football from its knees back to the apex of African football.

Colts football - which was, and remains, the main juvenile league - was the bedrock and foundation of Ghana Football, but it has been halted and non-effective for some years 

during and after the reign of the defunct Kwesi Nyantekyi led Administration. There’s no competitive juvenile league to provide the players with the opportunity to unearth their talent, equip them with basic football techniques and the necessary platform for coaches to correct basic mistakes.

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School football provided the youth with opportunities to be recruited into football academies and also develop their talent.

These served as the mainstream talent nurturing and enhancing platform for juvenile footballers before getting the opportunity to play in the national teams, Ghana Premier League and other clubs outside the shores of the country.

After the demise of coaching greats - Sir Cecil Jones Attuqueyefio, C.K Gyamfi, Uncle Benjamin Koufie, Osam Duodu, E.K Afranie, Sam Addy - who have contributed immensely to the success of Ghana and African football. 

It has been very difficult to churn out sufficient great minds to take over the technical duties at club and national teams. Our football association has failed to offer good coaching courses and tuition. Our Limited Coaches have also failed to embrace the modern trends of coaching and management practices.

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Coaches have failed to increase their knowledge in the game by attending seminars and training programs.

The quality in the Ghana Premier League has reduced greatly because of lack of quality players from the juvenile and youth teams. Because the colts football has been ineffective as it used to be, the quality of players in the country has reduced which in turn affects the league and the national teams.

Experience and quality players leave the shores of Ghana to other African countries - Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, South Africa - in search of better salaries and remunerations.

Bribery and games of convenience have quenched the competitiveness in the league.

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Ghanaian clubs have failed to compete in the continental competitions over the last decade and half. 

African powerhouse and two-time CAF Champions League winners, Kotoko rejoice over reaching group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup which exposes the sorrowful state of Ghanaian clubs.

The Football Association has failed to draw any effective policy to graduate the players in the junior national teams, especially, Satellites - which was the major source of players for the senior national team - into the Black Stars.

When the Satellites won silver at the under-20 World Cup 2001 in Argentina, there was a smooth transition of a number of players - Michael Essen, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, John Pantsil, Derrick Boateng - into the Black Stars. The graduated players provided a solid base and where integral to Ghana’s qualification to her first World Cup in Germany in 2006.

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Ghana failed to qualify to the under-20 World Cups In 2003, 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, when the Satellite conquered the world in Egypt at the under-20 World Cup, Ghana ensured a perfect transition of almost ten players - Daniel Agyei, Andre Ayew, Agyemang Badu, Jonathan Mensah, Rabiu Mohammed, Dominic Adiyiah, Samuel Inkoom, Opoku Agyemang - into the Black Stars. 

The 2009 Under-20 world champions provided the Black Stars with the needed energy, determination and quality in tandem with the senior players to power the Black Stars to the AFCON final in 2010 and on their way to becoming the second African country ever to play in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

After placing third at the under-20 tournament in Turkey, Ghana failed to transit the players - Clifford Aboagye, Alfred Duncan, Ebenezer Ofori, Moses Odjer, Boakye Yiadom - and those who were called were not given the chance and time to fit into the team. 

The national team handlers failed to give Ebenezer Assifuah and Richmond Boakye Yiadom, who had incredible potential to understudy and given the needed opportunity to replace the aging Asamoah Gyan.

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Ghana has failed to rebuild the Black Stars amid a lot of the players aging and not commanding regular playing time in their respective clubs, but they continue to be the base of the team.

Majority of the Black Stars players fail to command regular playing times in their respective teams. Almost 90% played less than 50% games for their clubs last season.

Kwesi Appiah attempted to rebuild and change the face of the team when he was hired for the second time in 2017, but gradually abandoned the future of the team in search of delusional and unfounded quick glory.

After failing to reach the semifinals of the AFCON for the first time since 2006 - which may have come as a surprise to some emotional fanatics and ignorant followers of the Black Stars - the signs were obvious during the qualifiers and before the start of the AFCON. But this could be the beginning of many abysmal and appalling performances if proper measures are not initiated.

Ghana football and sports in general lacks direction and policies. It’s time to restructure our football in general, and rebuild the national team. 

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Ghana needs massive infrastructure development, and human capacity building to carry out coded football policy for the country from the juvenile to senior level. 

The football association and the Government must initiate and implement a sound policy to ensure the renaissance of Ghana football to the highest echelons of Africa and world football at large.

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