- SOCCER. Three-time World Cup finalists Ghana are coached by a local, Kwesi Appiah, reinstated to the job following the sacking of Israeli-born Avram Grant after the 2017 Afcon when they lost to Egypt in the semifinals.
- Basena has two matches to prove his craft.
One of the most memorable quotes of ex-Nigeria captain and coach Stephen Keshi, who died last year, was his criticism of the role of some white coaches in African football just weeks before the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
“The white guys are coming to Africa just for the money,” the outspoken Keshi said. “They are not doing anything that we cannot do. I am not racist but that’s just the way it is.”
“But what I don’t accept is when you bring in a mediocre ‘carpentry’ coach from Europe, and tell me that he’s better than me. I won’t accept that. We have quality African former players, who can do the same thing, but you don’t give them the opportunity because they’re just black dudes.”
Many disagreed with his view, including ex-Uganda Cranes coach Bobby Williamson. “I never came here for the money. I came here for the job, for a new experience and a new working place. I’ve never regretted it,” Williamson was quoted by the BBC.
“We are all professionals, if he [Keshi] could get a better job in Europe and earn better money, then I’m sure he would be off like a shot.”
For sure, what Keshi (RIP) envisioned was a case like today’s when Uganda clash with Ghana in a 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Three-time World Cup finalists Ghana are coached by a local, 56-year old Kwesi Appiah, reinstated to the job following the sacking of Israeli-born Avram Grant after the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations when they lost to Egypt in the semifinals.
Fufa president Moses Magogo did extend Moses Basena’s interim tenure until the end of the ongoing qualifiers having initially been appointed for four games after the ‘termination’ of Micho Sredojevic’s contract.
Appiah and Basena, 49, now live on the extreme of the equation. Today, Ghana are throwing their last card as they lie third in group E on five points, two adrift of Uganda with Egypt top on nine points.
The Black Stars must win at Namboole to stay within a shot of the World Cup. For Appiah, sacked after a poor show at the 2014 World Cup, good is not enough. Even victory could be a faint footnote if Egypt beat bottom side Congo Brazzaville, one point, in Alexandria tomorrow.
On the other hand, no one will blame Basena for Cranes’ shortcomings if this this campaign suffers a stillbirth. The army coach delivered Uganda’s first victory over the Pharaohs in 52 years, a 1-0 result at Namboole last month.
It’s hard to pick out what Basena has changed since replacing Micho. The selection and set-up is more or less the same, understandably so as it’s impossible to change during the campaign.
Both coaches, like all others, are made and broken by their players. You will not find any news of Basena falling out with any of his men – Ugandan players never come out openly. In fact, the coach has not tried to alter the assumed hierarchy of the team.
What if he had appointed Emmanuel Okwi as captain to replace Denis Onyango? The thinking stops now.
Appiah is not new to controversy involving players. Appiah publicly fell out with Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng as Ghana disintegrated at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It greatly overshadowed the feat of being the first local coach to qualify the side for the global showpiece.
In the lead up to today’s game, the former defender has explained his decision to drop Ayew brothers; Andre (West Ham) and Swansea City’s Jordan.
The decision has led to several discussions among Ghanaians with some suggesting that the coach’s hatred for the Ayew family influenced his decision.
“They are playing well in the Premier League [so I didn’t drop them for lack of form],” Appiah told GNA. He also disputed claims that he hated the Ayew family.
“This (overlook of the Ayew brothers) has nothing to do with that because there’s no issue (between me and the family). We know the calibre of Andre and Jordan already and if we want to build a team for the future, then we need to give other players the chance to also prove themselves.”
In 2013, Appiah took the same selection decision which prompted the Ayew brothers to ‘retire’ from the national team. He got away with it as history is only written by the victors of war.
Ghana are almost certain of not qualifying but you can only imagine that some will peg the failure to Appiah’s verdict to look beyond the Ayew family. You cannot say the same of Basena in regard to any player.