By CAMERON DUODU
GHANA beat Serbia 1-0.
Serbia beat Germany 1-0.
Germany beat Australia 4-0.
So, shouldn’t Ghana have beaten Australia? Yet Ghana could only draw 1-1 with them!
And even more troubling, Germany, which had been beaten by Serbia, which, remember, Ghana had beaten, may drive us out of the World Cup on Wednesday — if they beat us by a good enough margin! I am not going into the mathematics of that, thank you very much.
All that I can say is that we should have beaten Australia well and good and made ourselves absolutely secure.
It is true that you can never play down the chances of any team in the World Cup. I mean — the World Champions, Italy were shocked to go 1-0 down to
New Zealand — yes them of the ferocious Rugby “Haka” performance fame — in the seventh minute of their contest on Sunday 20th June 2010!
Man, I didn’t even know that New Zealanders played football; that is to say, non-Rugby football.
And now they’ve gone into the football quiz books for ever: “Which unfancied football team scored a seventh-minute goal against the World Champions in a World Cup tournament?” Answer: “New Zealand; World Cup South Africa, 20th June 2010, against World Champions Italy.”
No-one will ever ask for the eventual result of that particular match (1-1) in a quiz. It is the shock of the first goal that lingers in the memory.
By the way, I think the most hilarious headline to have come out of the World Cup, so far, was the one from the New York Post, a “newspaper” which, allegedly reporting on the day the USA drew 1-1 with England (13th June 2010) put on its front page in huge letters, white on black, the headline, “USA WINS 1-1”. You can see the front page for yourself at:
That should impress you about World cup reporting — unless you speak French — in which case you will find a collector’s item in the choice words attributed to the French player, Nicolas Anelka, addressed to his coach, Raymond Domenech and splashed in huge letters across the front page of the French sports newspaper, L’Equipe.
Where in the world — except in the super-charged atmosphere of the World Cup — would a beautiful player like Anelka summon the anger to let go a tirade in which he told his own coach to go and “sleep with himself“, adding that the coach was the “offspring of a female dog?
The French team think that someone leaked the outburst to the newspaper, and they have been looking for the “traitor”. That’s one other thing: in the World Cup, you have teams, but hardly any team spirit at all.
Yet, in the mean time, in solidarity with the expelled Anelka, all the players refused to alight from their team bus when they got to their training ground on Sunday. Which means they think they were sold to a newspaper by one of their own officials. Usually it is the other way round: players blabber away and officials punish them when they are caught.
Really, what is the world coming to, when officials charged with keeping a tight lid on camp scandals, are those acting as moles for sensation-seeking journalists? In the current frame of mind in the French camp, it would have been a great favour to Ghana if we had been drawn to play them, instead of the Germans, who have, so far, had no scandal to endure. Unless you count the fact that they were beaten by Serbia. (Indeed, Germany and Serbia go a long way together — read the history of the origins of the First World War here:
if you are really interested.)
Ha — in fact, as we prepare to meet the mighty Germans, things do not look at all good in our own camp. Once again, Sulley Muntari and coach Milovan Rajevac are daggers drawn. What a bore!
According to the sports website, Kickoffghana.com, “Sulley Muntari’s World Cup has gone from bad to worse, after he was ordered out of the Ghana camp by Black Stars coach Milovan Rajevac.
“The Inter Milan player has cast a gloomy figure throughout Ghana’s stay in South Africa, after he lost his regular place in the side, but things came to a head after the Ghana-Australia 1-1 draw on Saturday when Muntari felt he should have had a bigger role.
“KickOffGhana.com understands Rajevac felt insulted by the player’s protests and on Sunday night, asked team manager Opoku Afriyie to facilitate his departure from the camp. Ghana Football Association officials, including its president and the Ghana captain, Stephen Appiah, tried to intervene but Rajevac made it clear he cannot work with the player. [The GFA later issued a statement confirming that the altercation had indeed taken place.]
“Muntari stayed over at the Sun City hotel base of the Ghana team on Sunday night, but there was no indication yet if he would have any further part to play in Ghana’s campaign.
“Rajevac and Muntari have had a frosty relationship and it all now seems to be coming to a head at this tournament. The mid-fielder was omitted from Ghana’s 2010 [African] Nations Cup squad after refusing to meet Rajevac twice during [Rajevac’s] visits to Milan. He was reinstated after apologising to the coach before scoring on his return against Bosnia in a friendly.
“But his problems began again when he asked to be given a separate room during Ghana’s friendly against Holland, contrary to the practice in the team; [and then attempted] to seek medical attention [later] without consulting the Ghana medical team, when they arrived in London for a friendly ahead of the World Cup.”
Who leaked to the website, all this inside information about Sulley Muntari? Is it not a cardinal principle that at tournaments, no member of the team — including officials — should speak to the media, without being cleared to speak, and also, without being told exactly what to say, by the top officials? If it was Rajevac who spoke to the website, was the Ghana FA’s media spokesman aware that he was talking to the media behind his back?
It is the biggest sign that the coach — if it was he who talked to the media — does not know how to keep a team’s morale high when it is taking part in a tournament. If the Ghana FA officials condoned what he did, then they too are gravely at fault. Managing stars is not easy — they probably wouldn’t be stars if they were docile sheep with no desire to distinguish themselves beyond the supine nature that can be expected of many ordinary individuals.
That sad rumpus aside, many Ghanaians are still calling for Milo’s head, principally because of the way he allowed his emotions to betray him when Ghana beat Serbia 1-0. Publicly brushing away two of his own “comrades” who merely wanted to share with him, their joy at winning, was an insult to the nation that, it is reported, is paying him $40,000 a month and a considerable sum also to his interpreter too. I am not myself worried about the pay, or the origins of the man. After all, there are many great coaches in Britain (for example) and yet they don’t mind hiring foreign coaches and paying them millions.
What is unacceptable is the coach’s apparent inability to empathise with our national enthusiasms. If he is not happy when his boys — and his co-handlers of the boys — are happy, then how can he expect to inspire all of them to achieve greater feats? Again, if he dismisses all their own ideas of playing football and imposes only his own, how does he expect to be able to mould them to his way of doing things, in the mere two months or so that the squad is in his hands? A marriage of ideas is surely the best way to go about matters?
When I watch our boys play, and find that their attacking machine is so weak, I simply lose hope. The other day, I was reduced to asking, “Where is Agogo?” until someone pointed out to me that the great, untiring attacker was on the injury list. And the one player who, on a good day, could have brought some vim into our attack, Sulley Muntari, is the one who has turned out to be a disgruntled nut who is too hot to handle, for Rajevac.
It is unfortunate beyond words, that we should be facing a clash of personalities of this sort, in a tournament where, so far, we are the only African side that has secured a victory for itself. Just that little bit more, and we could be in the last sixteen. Not beating an Australian side reduced to ten men was quite simply unforgivable. Rajevac brought on Muntari much too late for him to be able to do anything worthy of note.
Indeed, being an apparently spiteful person, it cannot be ruled out that our coach probably brought him on at that late stage, not in expectation that he would be able to change anything, but to “expose” his weaknesses — bad temper and insubordination — for all those who had been clamouring that Sulley should be brought in, to see for themselves. There is no-one in the world who won’t fail if circumstances are created for him to fail. And Sulley Muntari wouldn’t be Sulley Muntari if he just accepted the situation without making his feelings known to all and sundry.
Everything now hangs on how we perform against the Germans. And if the murmurs in the camp prove right, we shall be fighting them — multi-champions of the world, no less
— with our hands tied behind our backs.
Nevertheless, never say die….! Ghana Oseeee Yeeeeeei! No matter how hot the gun becomes, it still must be fired from the chest of a MAN!