FEATURE: Laryea Kingston deserves better from GFA


By Ernest Bako WUBONTO

The Black Starlets were defeated in the Semi-finals of the WAFU Zone B Under-17 Championship by Burkina Faso 1-2, ending a purported host and win agenda and failure to likely qualify to the next U-17 Africa Cup of Nations. The coach of the team, Laryea Kingston, during the post-match press briefing, announced his resignation as the head coach in a mood of pure grief, mentioning that his decision to resign would be clarified in due time.

This decision was quite unfortunate at the time, considering that the team still had a game in hand in the competition. Thus, the third position play-off with Nigeria who were also beaten by Côte d’Ivoire.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA), in a response to Laryea’s resignation and notification of contract termination, demonstrated a more tempestuous tone than what the disappointed head coach did (Two wrongs don’t make a right). Even though it can be argued that the gaffer used the wrong channel to announce his decision to resign due to bitterness or disagreement with some alleged behind the scene player selection manipulation, the FA needed to have demonstrated maturity and be discreet in the issuance of such a press statement.

If almost the whole right-thinking members of the sports fraternity in the country believed he was building a team for the future and unearthing talents that could move through the ranks to the highest level of national football competitions, then why not exercise decorum and find best ways to convince him back to post or part ways?

It isn’t surprising at all when a cross-section of Ghanaians believe some executives of the GFA think the national football teams are their bona fide properties, and so can do as they wish with the national teams though tax payers’ money fund their activities.

Seven months of Laryea’s leadership

The Ghana U-17 team has been under the leadership of the former Black Star winger, Laryea Kingston, for the past seven months, according to his statement; however, he was appointed in March 2023, barely a year ago. Before the defeat to Burkina Faso in the semi-finals stage of the ongoing WAFU Zone B tournament, he had been lauded by all football enthusiast to have rediscovered the possessive and beautiful football style that Ghana used to be known for, earning the nickname the Brazil of Africa football.

Beyond that, the team participated in the UEFA U-16 Boys Development Tournament 2024-Russia, where it played three games – won two and lost one to the host nation. The team scored 11 goals in the process, conceding only five goals and scoring as much as five goals in two of those games.

In the WAFU B Tournament, they beat Côte d’Ivoire who made it to the finals by a 5-1 scoreline. They also defeated the Benin team by 2-0 to book a place in the semi-finals against Burkina Faso.

Why Laryea deserves better

In total, Laryea led the team to 17 games, including competitive and friendly matches. The team lost only two, drew three and won 12 games. Which of the national team coaches in recent times has achieved such a win rate?

“Fast becoming the nation’s coach, Laryea Kingston’s remarkable work of transferring his technical abilities, passion and enthusiasm from his illustrious playing career to his work as a coach is a joy to behold. This is evident in his inspiring role as coach of the Ghana U17 Male Team, The Black Starlets; and it is only the beginning of what should be an even better coaching career. Personalities like Laryea Kingston provide the assurance that Ghana’s future in football coaching will be great,” said Sammy Anim Addo, GFA former Executive Council member.

Multiple-award winning sport journalist Gary Al-Smith said: “It’s been a while since we saw a bubbling U-17 side like this. Even if they do not win the WAFU Zone B tournament, the rekindled belief is exactly what our youth football needs. Happy for Laryea Kingston”.

These are some of the remarkable testimonies of the wonderful work the gaffer has done in a short time, just to mention a few.

The GFA statement


“The Ghana Football Association has taken note of the decision of the Head Coach of the National U17 Team, the Black Starlets, Laryea Kingston, to leave the team following his behaviour after the WAFU ZONE B U17 qualifier semi-final match against Burkina Faso. Laryea Kingston’s decision has been supported by his subsequent actions. Coach Kingston announced to the players and the coaching staff that he had resigned while using inappropriate language.

“He subsequently said the same in his post-match Press Conference. Coach Kingston also got off the team bus while the team was on its way to the team hotel. He failed to attend the team’s evening meeting with the Management Committee and has since not reported at the team hotel,” the statement read.

It is surprising to see such a statement mentioning the coach’s behaviour as a disappointment to the FA. Even scandalous is going further to state that he alighted before getting to the team’s hotel. Is the FA trying to paint a public picture that the coach is unreasonable and failed all Ghanaians?

Laryea’s apology for resignation

The embattled Black Starlets coach later issued a heartfelt apology for his abrupt resignation from the under-17 national team, acknowledging that he followed his “heart instead of his mind” in making the decision. “We worked very hard for several weeks for the chance to reach the final of the WAFU tournament to compete for the ultimate prize, but it was not to be,” he stated.

If Laryea could apologise in this manner to show his frustration for not qualifying, why is the GFA not doing the same to the taxpayers of Ghana and the coach for such a sharp response?

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