Firstly, I want to congratulate Chris Hughton and his backroom staff on their appointments. And also congratulate Michael Essien for his Uefa licence awards. He’s clearly grafted well. And now onto the substantive matter of Ghana’s football direction
Ghana’s football, over the years, has seen a mixture of raw talent deployed in multiple ways with amazing outcomes and miserable endings. I’m aware of the overused term football identity has been a cliche but we cannot ignore its essence.
Having a football identity informs the direction of our coaching. Our goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and central attackers will have a core football education that will make them competitive at any international level. At the heart of this football, education and identity should be possession football. This is not a suggestion or me merely expressing my football opinion– this is an inalienable fact.
We can express infinite possession football to address a squad’s deficiencies and maximise individuals’ or the team’s abilities. Different coaches or managers can augment this core attribute – possession football – with their defensive, counter-attacking or pressing philosophies. Ghana, as a country, has a genetic pool of talents and complementary athleticism to boot. These admirable qualities are the key requirements to bring about tactical and technical evolution in our game. I am resisting the temptation to drive down memory and drag the success of the South Americans and Europeans to the fore – I won’t, but will focus on what we have and what lies ahead.
Ghanaian players must begin to compete for individual awards on the international stage, and [ collectively] begin to – dominantly express our football identity during AFCON and the World Cup. To rely on explosive passion, political statements and cultural sentiments have their place in the emotional aspects of the game. But, they cannot be substitutes for the structural playing patterns, underpinned by possession football, in the expression of our talents and coaching ingenuity.
Coaching and training our goalkeepers must be integral to our build-up play. As to why, we have ignored this aspect, despite having an abundance of talent is beyond me. The successful beating of a high aggressive press is reliant on a goalkeeper with positional awareness, weight of pass, understanding angles and distances, ability to pick different passes and other receiving priorities.
The modern goalkeeping position is aggressively developing to a whole new level as the sweeper, and will eventually be the deepest lying playmaker. It doesn’t always have to start in Europe before we latch onto it. We can develop a whole new playing concept with our goalkeepers.
We are perfectly capable of leading the evolution in educating our young players. Ghana is blessed with the perfect weather to develop suitable playing surfaces across the Country. Training pitches are extremely important if we are to achieve these illustrious objectives.
The goalkeeping role, the defence, the defensive midfield; the central attacking roles; wide players and the centre-forward positions ought to work in tandem. These units must exude a certain level of personality— to gain expression in the weight of pass; body shape prior to receiving a pass, and a certain demeanour in ball retention. In addition, they must find consonance reminiscent of our football culture.
Modern technical and tactical training at the [core level] must address our football culture or genetic deficiencies, while it exploits our opponents’ weaknesses leading to redirecting their strengths into our tactical traps.
The use of medium to high level audio-visual technology will aid this progression. The national passion, economic value and financial benefits of upgrading our football far outweigh the initial investments required.
We mustn’t sleepwalk into hopeful AFCON final victories and world cup glories. We must have structured expectations going into any tournament. This will soundly prepare us to deal with any unsuitable eventuality. As every pass has purpose, every direction of touch has an objective, every dribble is following a pattern, every movement of/off the ball is reacting to a well-rehearsed phase of play in training.
Our national teams must have a well-defined football identity horned on Ghana’s pitches in the atmosphere of cultural and national psyche – the redefinition of the AGORO SOCCER must be “reborn”. To achieve these objectives, we must redirect the tactical administration of football. As the general administration of Ghana football, despite its challenges, is developing bit by bit, we must pay attention to the tactical administration.
What do I mean by tactical administration? It involves a wholesome understanding of the technical pool we have in Ghana, or available to us, abroad; a massive wealth of tactical knowledge that’s consistent with our players’ physiology, football mentality and general values extracted from our football related research. There ought to be a certain level of consideration before we appoint our national team coaches. These coaches must join at a stage of the technical and tactical progression. If not, we are setting them to fail or driving them into a chaotic wall of pre-tournament preparation.
Bar South Africa 2010 where the national team was structured on counter-attacking football. We’ve barely built a side with any convincing structure. I mean no disrespect to my fellow coaches who’ve managed the previous teams. I have nothing but pure respect for all of them.
However, we must embrace the lessons therein to begin a structured preparation from the meeting room, training pitch, test matches of philosophies before we drive into any tournament. The Ghana Football Association and the Sports Ministry must open its scope of selection to tap into a vast pot of football knowledge. Coaching a national side and developing a winning style is firstly reliant on being a genuine fan before the tactical brilliance. Long live Ghana football. Long live Ghana.
Source: Coach Kofi Koranteng