Maxwell Konadu and James Kwesi Appiah have come under serious attack from Ghanaian soccer fans after failing to qualify the Local Black Stars to the African Nations Championship for the second edition running making the duo the most horrible coaches to have handled the Black Stars and there are relevant stats that supports this.
It was completely baffling to realize that there was no typical defensive midfielders on the list of eighteen players that were selected to contest the two legs against Burkina Faso in this qualification. Its common to see teams filed at least one defensive midfielder in games and so what made Maxwell Konadu and Kwesi Appiah believe that a Local Black Stars side that had not kept a single clean sheet in three years could finally keep one using a team dominated by offensive-minded players? It’s this that baffles me. It really does and surprisingly Konadu’s experiences in the 2016 CHAN qualification failure against the Ivory Coast should have prompted him to correct the wrongs but he would not learn from his mistakes.
For starters, Maxwell Konadu became the very first Local Black Stars coach to qualify to the CHAN without kicking a ball in the elimination tournament as Benin – the scheduled Ghana opponents – withdrew from the 2014 qualification tournament and Ghana enjoyed a bye without breaking a sweat and while that was good news it denied us the chance to properly assess the true coaching capabilities of Konadu. The team of Yahaya Mohammed, Theophilus Anobaah, Abeiku Ainosoon, Jordan Opoku , Michael Akuffo and co went to South Africa to shake the 2014 CHAN managing to reach the finals only to lose on penalty-shootouts to Libya.
To be fair, Maxwell Konadu deserved the credit for that wonderful run in South Africa and his reward was rightly justified by his continuous stay as the manager of the Local Black Stars after the South Africa CHAN.
But what changed after the 2014 CHAN success?
Reaching the finals in South Africa may have given Konadu false hopes that he began to feel he was the main man to keep running the Local Black Stars and he could do whatever he wishes. That was wrong . His squad and team selections became more and more poor and questionable and lacked credibility. For instance in the Ghana – Ivory Coast 2016 CHAN qualifier in October 2015 in Kumasi, BA United’s Patrick Asmah who had not played any competitive games in the second round of the league was picked to start the game ahead of Ashantigold’s full back Tijani Joshua who was a regular and was on fine form. Ghana won 2-1 with a Joel Fameyeh brace who rose to the occasion after the Ivorians have taken a first half lead through Ibrahima Sangare but how does a coach start a player who’s been idle ahead of an active one? Konadu realized his flaw and started Joshua in the second leg but the damage had been caused in Kumasi already.
Konadu became the first Ghanaian coach not to qualify the Local Black Stars to the CHAN with Ghana losing 1-0 in Abidjan – in a game the poor squad and team selections of the former Kotoko coach were laid bare. The decision to start central defender Baba Mensah of Inter Allies in the holding midifield role ahead of the natural holder of that position – Malik Akowuah then a Medeama SC player was another disastrous coaching decision that cost us in Abidjan. By the time Mensah was bundled out after dishing out a pathetic midfield performance Kofi Boua had scored the Ivorian goal that would eventually eliminate Ghana. Would you blame Baba Mensah a natural center back started in midfield ? No. It was a new role to him and the person that deserved to start in that was Malik Akowuah. But why didn’t he? Konadu gave no good reason when he was asked about this the Abidjan presser at the Stade Robert Champroux.
No clean sheet kept in three years.
A more unpalatable fact is that Maxwell Konadu’s Local Black Stars have not kept a single clean sheet in competitive matches since the 0-0 draw against Libya in the 2014 CHAN final match on 1st February 2014. In the last six competitive games, the Local Stars defence has been breached in every game. This started in the 2015 COSAFA Cup where Konadu’s team lost 2-1 to Madagascar and 3-0 to a free scoring Zambia side. It continued with the 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in Kumasi on 18th October 2015 and the 1-0 second leg loss in Abidjan twelve days later.
As if things would change against Burkina Faso with the coach sounding confident of avoiding the goals but despite scoring twice in Ouagadougou last week, the Burkinabes fought back twice to equalize leaving the game at a thrilling 2-2.
Now the final straw that condemned Kwesi Appiah and his number 2 Maxwell Konadu is the disastrous 2-1 home defeat by Drissa Traore’s Burkina Faso at the Babayara stadium last Sunday – the first time ever that we’ve lost a home CHAN qualifier.
“The coach is supposed to see we need a shield in front us.You could see that anytime the Burkinabes received the ball in midfield they easily take we the defenders on because there is no one doing that breaking them down. This is the problem but how can you tell the coach? We are the players and we saw this was the biggest problem we faced. We needed some type of defensive cover from the middle but it was not there so it might appear as if we the defenders are not good. Its wasn’t like that because the ball was always on us. You have no time to even relax. ” a player on the Ghana team that lost to Burkina Faso last Sunday told me.
In 4 CHAN qualifying matches under Konadu and Appiah Ghana has won just one, losing two and drawing the other. This record does not qualify as a good one.
Now where does Kwesi Appiah falls in the conundrum?
We were told that one of the good reasons why we needed Kwesi Appiah’s return as Ghana coach is that he’s a true representation of our game having played locally at club level and for the national team and basically understand the Ghanaian game. This viewpoint has proven to be immaterial because Appiah has added nothing to the Local Black Stars. Absolutely nothing. His supposed understanding of the local game has been of no use to the team. I haven’t seen that anyway. In terms of tactics and ideas , things were the same. Same men, same story. What proper analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the Ghana team was done. What new ideas did Appiah bring on board?
Huge opportunity missed
The 2018 CHAN was a good opportunity for Kwesi Appiah in particular to prove a point to all Ghanaians by qualifying the team to the CHAN tournament something that would at least given football fans the preliminary hope that the second stint of Kwesi Appiah as Ghana coach is going to be good.
This is no hatred but a pure professional analysis of the job of the men we tasked to qualify us to Kenya 2018.
The way forward?
Over the years the teams of local black stars have changed. Only four players of the 2016 Ghana CHAN team that failed against Ivory Coast are still part of the current Local Black Stars – Amos Frimpong, Daniel Darkwa, Felix Annan and Zakaria Mumuni. Zakaria, Annan and Frimpong were even fringe players meaning only Daniel Darkwa was in the first team.
Different group of players have been tried but the results does not change and let me state that we should be credited with some intelligence. On paper Kwesi Appiah is the head coach of both Black Stars and Black Stars B but the truth of the matter is Konadu did majority of the work and this team for me was more of Konadu’s. Kwesi was just a ceremonial head coach.
The best decision now is to relieve Konadu of his post as the first deputy of the Black Stars B – and this should be done after the WAFU tournament if only we are serious.
“I am not a quitter. In football you win today and lose tomorrow. Ghanaians have given me the job and If I quit I would have turned my back to Ghanaians.” Konadu said in the post game presser last Sunday. Well for me this is absolutely hilarious. Who wants to keep a coach that loses more matches than he wins? Maybe Konadu has doesn’t know of the fact that he has failed to take us to the CHAN more times than he’s taken us to. Is is that Konadu doesn’t know that he has lost more competitive games (4) than he has won (3) as Local Black Stars coach / Assistant coach? Konadu should know that if he resigns today some of us will organize a party to celebrate his resignation.
Let Kwesi Appiah concentrate on the Black Stars and hire a new manager to handle the Local Black Stars and I propose one of Yusif Abubakar or David Duncan or Bashiru Hayford if they are available.
The current arrangement of having Kwesi Appiah as head coach for both Black Stars and Black Stars B is not going to work. Kwesi Appiah is not Milovan Rajevac so the fact that “Milo” – a finer technical brain – was successful at both Black Stars and with the CHAN team does not mean Kwesi should be given both jobs. It doesn’t work that way.
Follow Gariba Raubil on twitter @GRAUBIL