Following the appointment of Kwesi Nyantakyi to the position of CAF 1st Vice-President, Citi Sports’ Benjamin Nketsia believes that while the GFA boss’ personal rise is wonderful, he has done little in terms of building Ghana football.
Carefully laid Plans
On days of accountability, he enters with the aura of a mobster, flanked by “well-wishers” and statuesque men from the grass roots and underworld of Ghana football, right up until the moment when he takes his seat behind the microphone.
I have been lucky to witness at close quarters one of such events which gives a peek into the thought process of Kwesi Nyantakyi, newly appointed First Vice President of the Confederation of African football (CAF).
As far as the game of football in Africa is concerned, Kwesi Nyantakyi is the second most important and most powerful man on the continent.
Prior to this new achievement, he had been elected to serve for the next four years on FIFA’s executive council.
How did the dream get this big, how did the demure boy from Wa in the Upper West region of Ghana make it to football’s most sacred corridors?
On July 2nd, 2014 at the headquarters of the GFA, the Black Stars were slated to meet the press after a World Cup campaign that had quickly gone from hopeful ,to disaster in a matter of days.
The knives were out and the tension hung thick in the air, Ghanaians wanted answers from players and the head coach Kwesi Appiah on why the name Ghana had become the butt of jokes for reasons other than football.
In stepped GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi calmly explaining how a delay in the arrival of FIFA money combined with emotions to stain a country’s reputation and mar a promising campaign.
In the process he exonerated himself and his entire GFA crew from any wrong doing.
The response was planned and well-executed, his journey from GHALCA to becoming FA President and retaining his status has been planned from the start and so is his recent inclusion on the FIFA Council and now CAF’s second biggest job.
He is adept at wriggling out of sticky situations as was witnessed a few months to the world cup when he was secretly filmed and framed for match fixing.
If that wasn’t enough, he staged another masterclass before the three-man Dzamefe Commission when the early evidence made it clear that his outfit the GFA along with the Ministry of Youth and Sports had connived to embezzle tax payers’ money.
The scenario was akin to a man escaping a Lion’s den unscathed. The display of wit, reverse psychology and attempted manipulation of all present was an act fit to rival the likes of Al Pacino and De Niro.
Clearly, this is a leader of high emotional intelligence and technical know-how and one that is very capable of transforming the fortunes of Ghana football.
The meticulous planning that has characterized Mr Nyantakyi’s rise to the top has been conspicuously absent from his approach to the development of football in Ghana.
His many friends and backers are quick to mention that under his tenure which begun in 2005 till present Ghana has managed to qualify to three successive World Cups,which is a great point.
Until you realize that in that time span only 8 players who play their play their football in Ghana have made it to the World Cup while 61 foreign-based players have made it in the same spell.
The 2006 World Cup recorded the highest representation of local players in the team and this was just a year after he had taken office.
Four years down the line in the 2010 World Cup, that number reduced to 3.
When Ghana participated in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, only 1 local based player made the team.
Currently, Ghana is struggling to revive the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign after a bad start.
It is ironic that I just pulled out the statistics in the statements above from the FIFA website after sifting through the archives.
This was made possible due to FIFA’s understanding of structure and foresight of the importance of data to the development of the sport.
When one day Mr Nyantakyi decides to walk away from the GFA job, will he be able to access a database that breaks down all the important figures that marked his tenure or will that also be determined by a co-efficient?
Minutes played, goals scored, assists recorded, distances run, shot accuracy stats among others are only a small fraction of data that athletes globally are using to improve on their craft.
In Ghana, such a tracking system for the development of the game exists only in the mind and the GFA cannot be bothered.
Data to present to potential investors of the Ghana Premier League are absent but instead, Ghanaians are supposed to be pleased with how his administration has secured a media rights deal.
After signing away the Premier league, The Division One League,The National women’s league and FA Cup for ten years for a deceptive sum of 17 million dollars to Startimes Group for 10 years, my fears were confirmed.
As President of the Ghana Football Association, the Ghana Premier League is expected to be Kwesi Nyantakyi’s biggest priority and source of pride but his actions and words suggest otherwise.
“A national team is not a District Assembly where people are chosen based on electoral areas. I don’t know any country where players are selected based on where they play” was his response when journalists sought clarification on why MVP for the 2016 Ghana Premier League Latif Blessing had been snubbed for the 2017 Afcon after scoring 17 goals to emerge top scorer.
He never took a stance when Israeli Avram Grant consistently ignored his monitoring duties of the local league and eventually dropped strikers with a combined total of over 40 goals for those who had scored less than 10 for Afcon 2017.
Protecting the best interests of the local league and planning for its future has never seemed like an important matter to Kwesi Nyantakyi.
The aftermath is a local league where journalists are openly attacked by club officials at match centres, teams repeatedly win points from the boardroom and bribery of match officials is spoken about in casual terms.
It is essential that we hold onto the few household names like Charles Taylor, Bernard Don Bortey and Stephen Oduro because the current Ghana Premier League in its state has none to boast of because it is a slowly sinking ship.
The neglect of the colts system of football that birthed these household names is an even more daunting topic.
The system has ground to a halt and those that have attempted to persevere in these harsh conditions operate with little guidance and supervision.
Like the numbers show, we currently import almost the entire national team from abroad for matches and the mental conditioning has been done by this current GFA to hoodwink people to believe that there is nothing wrong with that manner of operation.
This is evil because on Kwesi Nyantakyi’s current momentum he might just become the top man in African football in a number of years to come but what will his beloved Ghana have to show for it?
I believe he has spent close to 50 years on this planet.
In the light of his new appointment and the strengthening of his arm on the reins of power, he should reflect on what he has created so far and what legacy he will leave behind and it is all said and done.
By: Benjamin Nketsia/citifmonline.com/Ghana