Black Stars Coach Kwesi Appiah has faced criticism for his team selection in recent times and his latest 23-man squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone next weekend, has done very little to quench that debate.
The 58-year-old’s squad for the upcoming assignment features unexpected names including captain Asamoah Gyan – a player who has seen less than 40 minutes of action in this current season for his Turkish club and in twilight of his career, as well as Christian Atsu, who has fallen down the pecking order at Newcastle United due to poor performance.
Since his return to the post in April 2017, Appiah has done very little to convince Ghanaians that his is the right man to lead the team to the promised land. His appetite for selecting players who are not performing well, coupled with his inability to manage egos in the team, remain two major concerns for Ghanaians.
Although fans understand that it is the coach’s right to select the players he wants to work with, it remains a major worry that Appiah has consistently overlooked those who are performing well at the moment.
For instance, John Boye who plays for French second tier side Metz, has made only two appearances this season but has been invited ahead of the likes of Patrick Kpozo, a regular for Ostersund in Sweden.
Another good example is Majeed Waris, who has also been called up ahead of Mahatma Otoo – a consistent performer for Balikesirspor in Turkey and Benjamin Tetteh, who was recently voted Sparta Prague player of the month for September.
Majeed has not scored a league in almost 12 months, and it remains a mystery as to how he is preferred to more regular goal scorers.
Given that the team experienced a shock defeat against minnows Kenya in their last international assignment, one would have expected the coach to assembly the best players possible for their next game.
A win against a lowly ranked Sierra Leone on October 11, 2018 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, is almost a certainty, but it will not mean that Appiah’s team is on the right path.
There are deeper cracks in this team, as witnessed during the game against Kenya last month, where the Black Stars struggled even against a 10-man Kenyan side.
It was not the first time the Black Stars had lost to a less fancied side, however, it is a worry that the team lost that game because Coach Appiah refused to select the best players for the game.
No reasonable supporter of the team would complain if Appiah selects the players he wants and still goes ahead to get the desired results.
For Appiah and the Black Stars to succeed, the coach must make use of the nation’s best available talents. There are so many players out there who are performing better and deserving of a place in the national team than Gyan and Waris.
Although Appiah has consistently said he is not fazed by external pressure while choosing his squad and is only focused on doing what is right for the national team, he is not naive to the fact that it is only a matter of time before pressure will start mounting for him to be sacked.
The frustration that many Ghanaians currently hold towards team and football in general, will reach throat levels if Appiah’s team does not start grinding the type of performance and results that fans want to see.