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Is CK Akonnor the best option after his maiden Black Stars test?

A resounding question that seems to echo in the minds of many Ghanaians is; Will CK Akonnor get the best out of the Black Stars?

CK Akonnor

After witnessing the two maiden games of the Black stars under coach Akonnor, a mixed bag of emotions is what majority of Ghanaian fans are feeling with regards to his coaching skills.

After his appointment by the Ghana Football Association in January, Charles K. Akonnor and his new technical team had been itching and preparing ardently for their first game in charge of the Black Stars.

Amid the COVID19 pandemic, Coach Akonnor excluded some names from the team and handed out call-ups to a number of debutants. Will this overhaul of the squad yield positive results for the team?

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The call-ups, however, added a fresh outlook to the squad as we saw players like Alexander Djiku, Yakubu Mohammed, Benson Anang, Emmanuel Lomotey, Kamal Deen and John Antwi being added to the squad. Turkey-based Bernard Mensah also received a call up after five years. Though critics were not in favour of this alteration, it is obvious CK Akonnor is well aware of how demanding the job is and is determined to change the outlook of the Black Stars in all aspects.

It very much comprehensible for fans to be very sceptic about the two friendly games played in Turkey by the Black stars. Akonnor’s maiden game against the Eagles of Mali saw a sloppy start for the Black Stars as they were bullied by the Eagles in a 3-0 defeat. This disappointing start aroused an alarming rate of attention as Ghanaians expected a different result. The president of the Ghana Football Association expressed his concern for the results. He, however, urged Ghanaians to be lenient in their criticisms against coach Akonnor since it was only his first time in charge of the team. During the Mali game a very obvious flaw one could notice was the lack of urgency, drive, passion, composure and above all teamwork amongst the players. None of the players handed call-ups was locally based. They were all foreign-based; the majority coming from Europe and engaged in active football. With this advantage, it really should have been a walk in the park for the Black Stars but complacency got the better of them.

The Malians took their chances and made every effort count as they thumped the senior national team of Ghana with a deservedly 3-0 win. The fans were very unhappy with that implausible results and called for the head of C.K Akonnor immediately. Coach Akonnor accepted the critics and defeat in good faith. He blamed the defeat on the lack of compactness and familiarity amongst the players. Charles Akonnor believed they had very little time to train before the game hence the uninspiring defeat. He claimed the team lacked understanding of the game plan and promised to do better.

Mali really baptized Coach Akonnor in the football coaching world with that sour defeat but going forward he would provide a thumpering performance with the Black Stars. The excuses can go on and on but we cannot overlook the fact that coaching goes beyond giving flimsy excuses especially after an upsetting defeat. It is crystal clear the players lacked enthusiasm and passion for the game. They displayed it by undermining the prowess of the Malian team especially their fortified attacking trio E.B. Toure, A. Haidara and K.Coulibaly

Progressing, it is evident that every coach just like Ghana’s past coaches all had a philosophy they followed. C.K Akonnor obviously has an agenda on his own as he dismantled the core team of Kwesi Appiah’s Black Stars by handing out call ups to fresh players based internationally. Just a few were maintained in the squad following their marvelous display and contributions to the success of the team.

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Every single eye is feasted on the coach and his technical team to meet the expectations of the fans. CK Akonnor in the friendly against Mali played a 4-4-2 formation but the Malians were not broken down by that. The midfield through to the front line were all very poor and wasteful going forward. There was no form of creativity and fans just couldn’t point a finger to the style of play of the coach. It was a haphazard play of football but neither the coach nor the president of the GFA were in any way discouraged with that abysmal performance. To them these friendlies were just test games they were using to identify the team’s strength and weakness as well as a way to get them up to form one lethal squad offensive and defensive wise.

The next game against Qatar at the Titanic stadium rekindled the deeming fire in the Black Stars as they thrashed the 2022 world cup hosts;Qatar by a five-goal margin. This results caused CK Akonnor’s jurors to arch their brows as he proved his worth. In as much we just cannot hold our horses to the desewin, need to keep a grave eye on his subsequent matches to be worthy of the trust of fans. That sterling performance from the black Stars saw Dede Ayew display a marvelous performance as he scored a beautiful brace with Samuel Owusu, Caleb Enkuban and Timothy Fosu Mensah having their fair share of the goal cake. This time there was that resurgence, passion and teamwork in the team although the Qatari equalized kind courtesy Almoez Ali causing an upset in the Ghanaian defence. The quick response from the team by bagging four more goals really shows how C.K Akonnor is set on writing a beautiful football history with this Ghanaian side before his tenure is up.

The biggest wish of every Ghanaian is to end the 40 year AFCON trophy drought and qualify for Qatar 2022 World Cup after missing out on Russia 2018. Well with two games down the line, it is quite too early to judge if Akonnor really is the Moses Ghana has been waiting for to lead to the promise land.

Nonetheless, the GFA had compelling reasons to appoint him as Black Stars head coach considering his sterling record as a coach. Having coached topflight teams in the Ghana Premier League like Hearts of Oak and their crosstown rivals, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Dreams FC and Ashanti Gold, it is evident that Coach Akonnor has a special syndrome the GFA really believes in. As he served as the assistant coach of the Black Stars, back in October 2019, he had a fair share of coaching them when they beat South Africa and Sao Tome Principe in November 2019.

This coaching role for CK Akonnor is a huge opportunity to exhibit his managing prowess and skills on the team as well as win the country some major trophies. As a Ghanaian himself, he is well aware of the burning desire of the people to see the Black Stars In their prime once again; to have a feel of the glory days of Stephen Appiah’s Black Stars. Hopefully, he delivers to the utmost satisfaction of the fans.

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Black Stars will lock horns with Sudan at the Cape Coast Stadium on the 13th of November 2020 in their next AFCON qualifier. Many fans and critics of the coaching staff have attested to the fact that it will be the ultimate test for Akonnor. That leaves the Black stars less than a month duration to prepare for their next qualifier.

Whether CK Akonnor is the right man or not two games aren’t enough to properly scrutinize his capabilities. However, the GFA is fully backing him to hoist the flag of Ghana very high. Beating Asian champions by outclassing them in every fold is nothing to overlook. The odds are now in his favour after thrashing the Qataris and all await his next game in the AFCON qualifier against Sudan.

By Owusuaa Appiah-Fei

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