In Kwesi Appiah’s first spell as Black Stars coach, he was nicknamed the Silent Assassin by the players for his ruthlessness. In this second spell as Ghana boss he seems to have lost none of those instincts.
Appiah’s latest squad for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Kenya suggested he has not lost the ball for big calls.
It’s also a squad that could signal the beginning of the end for national legend Asamoah Gyan and throws the future of a famous pair, the Ayew brothers, in further doubt, at least with Appiah in charge.
Kwadwo Asamoah’s return after a four-year absence will please many Ghanaian football fans but it is Appiah’s decision to drop long-standing captain Gyan that has larger significance.
Appiah in his usual understated manner has suggested this is no big deal, that this is routine, and he’s attempted to shut down any discussion about the implication of his latest decision for the country’s record goalscorer.
“We don’t have a new captain,” Appiah told journalists ahead of the squad announcement. “Gyan remains the captain of the Black Stars.
“Until we announce that we have appointed a new captain, it’s unnecessary for people to speculate that we have a new captain.”
What Appiah has not addressed is what the latest snub means for the long-term future of the Ghana captain.
Gyan is the last man standing from the generation that took Ghana to a first World Cup appearance in 2006, but increasingly, it seems his time is coming to an end.
He’s not been picked by Appiah since the final 2018 World Cup qualifying game against Egypt last year, and has not played for the Black Stars since starting against Congo-Brazzaville in Kumasi in 2017.
Since then, he has missed out on trips to Japan and Iceland, but it is the decision to drop him for a competitive game that should alarm the striker.
When he was overlooked for the two friendly games in June, part of the idea was that it would allow Appiah to weigh up his options beyond Gyan.
Emmanuel Boateng was one of them, but even with the Levante forward injured, Appiah has still made the decision that he doesn’t need his captain.
Everything about the decision points to the beginning of the end for Gyan.
Appiah is clearly gravitating towards a Black Stars with Thomas Partey as the heart and soul and Raphael Dwamena as the figurehead up front.
While Appiah’s insistence that Gyan remains captain will gladden him, it bears striking semblance to the manner his predecessor John Mensah was eased out of international duty.
Gyan is desperate for an international farewell at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
It seems from Appiah’s decisions that he will have to earn it with games at club level. The recent evidence (last season, he made 12 league appearances for Kayserispor, this season he is yet to feature) suggests the end could be nigh for Baby Jet.