Too many diminutive players in a football team or squad create deficiency in the team outputs and do not bring good results. My father took me to the Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi 1976 at age 5 and I saw good football.
Formal Black Star player, Kwasi Owusu (power house) once said; during their era they were able to beat Nigeria and the other countries easily because Ghanaian players at that time also had the huge physique and the tall structure of the Nigerian players and were also very skillful. As for the five “s” in foot ball every Ghanaian has it that is; skills, speed, strength, stamina and shooting abilities or shorting at goal.
Ghanaians are not naturally smallish or diminutive as we are made to believe, it is not true. There is a reason why diminutive players are preferred and are dominant in our football now days. Football is very athletic sports which require men and women with the requisite height, stature and the correct physique to play that endurance game very efficient and very effective.
When you take a look at our footballers from the 60s, 70s, 80s and the early 90s, our team players were endowed with the huge structures of the Nigerians, Ivoirians, Cameroonians, just to mention a few. In 1978, any match Ghana will play against Nigeria; Coach Fred Osam Duodo will use Kyenkyenhene instead of Aldorf Armah why?
The genesis of diminutive players’ preference started gradually from the 87, 89, and 91 to 93 because of the Junior National Teams. We were seriously cheating in age at the Under 17, 20 and 23, so we were afraid to introduce and encourage tall structured players to play.
We started with these players like: Alex Opoku, Isaac Asare, Kofi Mbeah, Daniel Addo (Darling Boy) Odartey Lamptey, Emmanuel Duah, and followed with the Awudu Issaka, Nana Kwaku Attakora Amaniampong, Joe Ansah, Joseph Fameyeh, Seth Twumasi, just to mention a few. These are all diminutive players who played very well in the Junior Teams. When they are promoted to the Senior National Team, where big and tall men are suppose to play. At this point, the bad seed we sowed produced bad fruit for us to reap.
Rev. Osei Kofi (dribble wizard), Opoku Afriyie (business man), Thomas Haussler of West Germany are all diminutive players who were very good. Can you imagine in the 60s and the 70s if our Black Star team had about six to seven players whose body structure were like that of Osei Kofi or Opoku Afriyie, what do you think would have been the effect on the team?
West Germany has only one diminutive player in their Italian 90 squad and that was Thomas Haussler. In that team, if they had as many as five to six more players whose structures were just like Thomas Haussler; do you think Germany would have won the world cup if all had played?
The last time the Black Stars won an Africa Cup was in 1982. In between now and 1982, Cameroon have won it four, whilst Egypt has also won it four times, doesn’t that speak? The last time Ghana came close to the cup was 1992; forget about 2010 at Angola. I will explain why I am saying forget about the 2010.
The Senegal 1992 squad to me was the last time Ghana had a team that Kwasi Owusu was talking about. Players like Anthony Baffoe, Emmanuel Armah (Senegal), Stephen Frimpong Manso (Mayanga), Emmanuel Ampiah [Chairman], Akwasi Appiah [Mayele], Anthony Yeboah (Yegoala), Prince Opoku (Polley), Ali Ibrahim, Richard Naawu, Sarfo Gyamfi [Black President), Abedi Pele and Stanley Aboraa, though short but very strong physically. The three goal keepers; Edward Ansah, the late Salifu Ansah and Abukari Damba were all tried and tested structured men. But for the captaincy problem and the division among the players, that cup was destined for Ghana.
Since Senegal 92, Black stars have not had the kind of players Kwasi Owusu spoke about. Kotoko won African club cup in 1983, Kwadwo Addai Kyenkyenhene, Seth Ampadu and Yahaya Kassum did the yeoman’s job. Against El Ahly (the Nationals) in Kumasi, I was Twelve year then, I saw the height advantage of these players. The strength of Yahaya Kassum (butcher) all the corner kicks were easily handled by Kyenkyenhene and Seth Ampadu.
The Same Kotoko, 2002 and 2004/2005 against WAC of Morocco and Heart of Oak, one corner kick against Kotoko, where are the men with height; no one, only Joseph Hendricks and Godfred Yeboah (TV3) and it was clear they were tired conceding a painful goal and against Hearts of Oak Lawrence Adjah Tetteh broke the hearts of the numerous Kotoko Faithful’s and Ghana and Kotoko is still not learning from these.
I am not saying short players are not good, far from that, what I am preaching is that, when they are too many that is five or more in a team then we are doomed. Currently, I am no more a fun of the Black Stars. I have my doubt whether the current Black Star players can win an Africa cup or any cup.
Having diminutive players like Samuel Inkoom, Harrison Afful, Richard Kissi Boateng, Anthony Annan, Andre Dede Ayew, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Kwadwo Asamoah, Christian Atsu, Solomon Asante and Mubarak Wakaso who are very good individually, but assembling them because of their disadvantage in height and body, is always going to put unnecessary Pressure on Isaac Vorsah, Jonathan Mensah, John Boye, John Painstil, Mohammed Rabiu and Asamoah Gyan. These players will work overtime and they will be exhausted and the next will be attracting yellow cards. They will either get injuries to the hard tackles or even be red carded. Corner kicks and free kicks against us may constitute goal making the team suffer and we will not have good results mark my words.
I prefer Derrick Boateng, Yahaya Mohammed, Mohammed Rabiu in the mid field because of their height and their physique is better, if they are in form. If we meet, Nigeria, La Cote D’Voire, Mali then we can do well because there will not be too much pressure on the already tall players mentioned.
Where is Bernard Kumordzi, Sunday 23/12/2012, I watch Kotoko and Berekum Chelsea and their players were with good height and physique. They handle Kotoko with ease. Kwabena Edusei (Azzaro) attracted needless red card, because he, Rashid Sumaila and Joseph Ochaya were working overtime and became frustrated.
Hearts of Oak won, the 2000 African club Championship because they were fortunate to have Emmanuel Agyemang Duah (Rambo) at their central defense against El Ahly in Egypt and the Esperance of Tunisia, Agyemang Duah’s physique and height advantage won the day for Hearts. 2006 Kotoko against El Ahly in Cairo the second leg match, within 18 minutes, Kotoko was down by 4 goals. When coach Afranie brought in Murtala Mohammed, he brought Stability at the defense because of his height. Where are Murtala Mohammed, Abass Inusah, Charles Boateng, Kwabena Yaro, and Stephen Manu (B.A.)?
Next Year Kotoko is going to Africa with Kofi Nti Boakye, Ben Acheampong, Richard Mpong, Michael Akuffo, and Michael Helegbe. Against Hearts in the league, I knew that, these players are not the butcher and the bully type of players to intimidate and score Hearts because of their smallish demeanor.
Kotoko central defensive pair of Kwabena Edusei and Rashid Sumaila is okay. The left back is okay with Joseph Ochaya, Ben Adamah and, Gideon Baah. In the midfield, the Coach should use Godfred Asante and Yahaya Mohammed should Kotoko secure his services in the January transfer registration. The Coach must start using Ali Nurideen, Nafiu Iddrisu and Seidu Bancey and this player Eric Donkor.
2010, orange Cup of nation in Angola at the finals with Opoku Agyemang, Dede Ayew, Agyemang Badu, Authony Annan, Kwadwo Asamoah, Harrison Afful, Samuel Incoom, Dominic Adiyia facing Egypt, we were handicapped. No matter how Isaac Vorsah, Asamoah Gyan and Lee Addy fought, we were bound to lose the match and the cup and that is exactly what happened.
Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien and Sulley Ali Muntari combination in the Black Star world cup in Germany 2006 were solid. Because these three players were big, strong and solid and their height were okay as compare to these three players Anthony Annan, Agyemang Badu and Kwadwo Asamoah.
“Please Coach James Akwasi Appiah, do something about your squad”. That is if we want to win South Africa 2013. To me the solution to the Black Star left back is Seth Owusu and the Berekum Chelsea player Rashid Alhassan: I am not sure of the name, if they are in top form. Mr. Reuben Dela Quarshie on a Talking Point with Mr. Ben Kouffie asked him, why is it that during their era the players were with good height, physique and well built but now it is not the same, Mr. Ben Kouffie was just laughing, this was in 2002 on GTV. I watch football with my eyes and mind but not with my mouth.
My little advice to all scouts and coaches in Ghana is that, we should be prepared to train players especially the tall and well built lads and not concentrate only on short but skillful players. Even the women foot ball is also facing the same challenge. I admire Mimi Osei Agyemang and Florence Dadson. (Maa Longie)
Article written by Kwaku Minkah Sarkodie- Holy