Milovan Rajevac, the Serbian is a household name in Ghana as far as the footballing fraternity is concerned and he is currently the manager of the senior football team the Black Stars. The Serbian tactician is presently having his second spell with the West African powerhouse, having held the position previously between 2008 and 2010.
In his first stint under the then Kwesi Nyantakyi led administration of the Ghana Football Administration in 2008, the ex-Al- Sadd, Vojvodina, Borac Cacak boss rekindled the face and love for football in Ghana even though he did not chalk any meaningful success. He, nonetheless, quickly became the fans favorite as he is known for his pragmatic approach to football and giving opportunities to young lads coming through the ranks.
In 2009, Milovan Rajevac was tasked to prepare the local Black Stars team for the CAF African Nations Championship held in Côte d’Ivoire. He outstandingly led the team to the final, losing to the hosts. He then took the main Black Stars team to the Nations Cup in Angola a year later and again, losing to Egypt in the final. However, the Ghanaian populace was happy with him despite failing to win any of the two trophies because he gave opportunities to some young lads who excelled at the 2009 FIFA World Cup in Egypt to be part of his final quad for the 2010 Mundial in South Africa.
With substantive captain Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari battling with injuries, Milovan Rejevac named Daniel Agyei, Andre Ayew, Samuel Inkoom, Agyeman Badu, Opoku Agyeman, Jonathan Mensah, and Dominic Adiyiah in Ghana’s squad for the tourney.
The climax of his performance came at the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa where Ghana were quarter-finalists after losing to Uruguay on penalties. That feat was the second time an African country had reached such height in the World’s biggest tournament after Cameroun in Italia 1990. Rajevac left for Qatar and other countries where nothing significant was heard about him.
The pertinent question is why did Milovan Rajevac find a level of success with the Black Stars but failed elsewhere? Is he going to be successful in his second spell with the Black Stars?
In trying to find answers to these questions, let’s examine the team he inherited in 2008 and the current Ghana team. Ghana in the early part of 2000 through to the mid-2000s could boast of players who were in their peak in their various careers playing in the elite divisions in club football and were performing week in week out. At least the spine of the team had Stephen Appiah playing for Juventus and Fenarbeche between 2003 and 2008, Sulley Muntari playing for Udinese, Portsmouth and Inter Milan between 2002 and 2012, Michael Essien was a stalwart for Chelsea, John Painstil and John Mensah played for Fulham and Sunderland respectively and Kevin Prince-Boateng who was at his peak in AC Milan. Any manager with these players could do magic with them but of course, a manager without any technical and tactical prowess will fail with these same players.
Realistically, the current Black Stars, who cannot boast of enough players in their peak and with no disrespect to any club, are not playing in top-league football. The household names that come to mind are Thomas Partey who currently plays for Arsenal after a successful stint with Atletico Madrid, speedster Kamaladeen Sulemana – Rennes, Jordan Ayew, Crystal Palace, Daniel Amartey – Leicester City, Alexander Djiku – Strasbourg, Baba Iddrisu– Real Mallorca and Mohammed Kudus for Ajax. However, the fact of certain quality players emerging cannot be glossed over but for a fact, the current squad can never be compared in terms of quality to the squad of 2010.
Ghana awaits to see the magic Milovan unleashed in his first spell and his technical prowess will be most appreciated this time around as qualifiers are underway for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Again Milo will be leading Ghana to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon and has been this time, tasked by the Ghana Football Association to end the country’s forty-year trophy doubt by winning the ultimate.
The Serbian tactician after his second appointment in September this year, Milo has beaten Zimbabwe 3-1 and 0-1 respectively in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and has named a strong squad for the final two games against Ethiopia and South Africa later this month.
Was it his technical prowess or sheer luck? We wait!!!
Source: Ernest Ekutor- Football writer