Business in Ghana

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Ghana’s Black Stars: When football imitates life.

Posted by Business in Ghana on June 28, 2014

By Dr. T. P. Manus Ulzen, tulzen@yahoo.com

Our three matches have been renamed “should have,” could have” and “would have.” How could such a young, talented and the most admired team in all of Brazil have fallen so short of its goal?
We had barely finished bantering with the American fans close by, after our rendition of their national anthem. Before we could figure out which side was up or adjust to our seats, it was the debacle of Feyenoord Stadium all over again, only this time, in 34 seconds not 4 minutes.
Did the team and technical staff learn anything from the friendly with the Netherlands leading up to the battle of Natal? This is the World Cup but more importantly, this is Ghana v USA. This World Cup rivalry was a tournament all on its own and all of Brazil and the whole wide world was waiting with great anticipation for David of Ghana to fire his slingshot to fell the Goliath that was the US of A.
“We believe that we will win” the American fan chant which had replaced “USA!,USA!” exploded into a deafening crescendo. How could an error so glaring at a rehearsal occur live at the main event? Do we analyze? Do we learn from data and facts or from experiences?
At the World Cup, every match is a “must win” until you win the trophy itself. This is a match we should have won.
Then the Cameroon story broke as we walked the streets of Natal, Brazil.Paulo. I said confidently to my sons. “I’m sure the Ghana players have been paid.” Well, father is not always right. Today, it is the Nigerian players who are boycotting their training session for not having received their funds. Beyond crassly flying $3m to Brazil without considering international regulations involved in such an unlikely transaction, the question is who is responsible for the original problem. How is the GFA managed? Are heads going to roll? That is the only investigation that is warranted and transparent action needs to be taken.
How can we expect a coach and his players to succeed with all this incompetence and apparent corruption in the air they breathe as they walk or trot onto the world stage? These problems are not solved by crudely flying cash over the Atlantic. The responsible individuals must go. If funds have been misapplied, prosecutions must follow.
Of course, the match fixing scandal reared its head just as we were breathing better after the thrilling match with Germany, which we could have won.
By the time the wounded but recovering Portuguese rolled around, we had been exposed to the world as a country rife with unsavory practices including not honoring contractual obligations with our own players. It was very difficult to hold one’s head high. The cost of incompetence and corruption is very high and we are all victimized by the actions of those who abuse their positions of trust.
If the president has to intervene at this level, then what do all the 50 or so officials who accompanied the players do? They should hand over their salaries to the president.
As for the indefinite suspensions KP Boateng and Sulley Muntari, at least Coach Appiah has shown that he is a decisive leader. The normal processes of redress must be pursued and appropriate interventions, not emotional ones should follow. We cannot fault the players for fighting for their just due but indiscipline cannot be condoned.
The Battle of Brasilia was a match we would have won, had we not donated two goals to our adversaries through a defensive error by John Boye and poor decision making by Fatau Dauda.
So the Black Stars return having performed below the expectations of the world, just like the country itself. We can do a whole lot better in all areas of national life. This misadventure of the Black Stars in Brazil is a metaphor of what ails the nation. We do not plan effectively, we are bedeviled by poor leadership across the board and we have consistently failed to use our resources properly to excel among the comity of nations.

A bad system cannot produce good results without fundamental transformation. What a needless conundrum.

T. P. Manus Ulzen is Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine at the University of Alabama and Author of “Java Hill: An African Journey” – A historiography of Ghana.

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