Hard as it appears to be, the sacking of Goran ‘Plavi’ Stevanovic will always be considered victory for voice of the people. Nonetheless, the extent to which the Ghana Football Association dragged on the so-called ‘consultation with stakeholders’ lives much to underscore cracks within the country’s football governing body. Even at this point where Stevanovic is not coach of the Black Stars, there are remnant legal issues to be ironed out. He has given the Football Association an ultimatum while they scratch their heads over a felicitous parting compensation. But did anybody hear Goran Stevanovic itemize his record as Black Stars coach on the first day of his meeting with GFA’s Executive Committee?
Well, according to Stevanovic, members of the Committee declined to extend his stay as coach of the Black Stars after he had requested to stay on. I just hope he does not deny ever passing this comment. By the way, after this statement came another one. Goran Stevanovic stated that he managed the Black Stars to 19 games which consisted of 10 wins, five draws and four losses and, according to him, that is an absolutely good record for a Black Stars coach. He further asked his interviewers to remember matches against big nations like England and Brazil. Inasmuch as I feel Goran’s citing of these matches is ad nauseam, I will not be surprised if he mentions them as his trump card for his next job.
But I am forced to differ on Stevanovic’s preen as a successful coach. It is indeed relative to claim success especially in a position where his compatriots set towering standards. It is heart-bleeding to know that among the recent coaches the Black Stars have had, Stevanovic is the only one who failed to unearth a local talent.
Let me go back to the days of Mariano Barretto and the local talent that readily comes to mind is former Liberty Professionals’ player William Tiero. The Portuguese coach kept faith in this player and featured him in almost every match he handled. Upon all the criticisms, Barreto continued to play Tiero and even sent him to Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games. Tiero was one of the three senior players Ghana added to that squad as accepted by the tournament rules. I must say that there were other locally-based players like Abubakr Yahuza and Charles Asampong Taylor, who featured for Baretto during his stint as Black Stars coach. But most will remember his love for William Tiero in midfield. No wonder he later searched for a club for the former Kumasi Asante Kotoko player in Portugal.
Then came Ratomir Dujkovic. This Serb was resolute regarding his faith in a midfielder for Heart of Lions– Haminu Draman. Upon all the media flack for playing Draman in top-notch matches, Dujkovic did not flinch in sending this midfielder to the 2006 World Cup. Not only did he send him, but sent other local players like Shilla Iliasu and Habib Mohammed formerly of Asante Kotoko and King Faisal Babes respectively. Indeed, these former local players at least got recognition with some European clubs who engaged their services.
Frenchman Claude Le Roy did not also shy away from at least unearthing a local talent. Anthony Annan and Afful Harrison among others were part of his squad that won Bronze at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
Before I even mention Milovan Rajevac and his local favourites, stop gap coach Sellas Tetteh unearthed one of Ghana’s current priceless assets. A young Berekum Arsenal midfielder by name Emmanuel Agyemang Badu truly justified himself in a Black Stars’ friendly against Australia in 2008. Honestly, I was taken aback at such a talented player, who I had hitherto not seen nor heard of in the local media. However, watching him in that friendly with Australia told me Agyemang-Badu was built for greatness. Badu was left out of most Black Stars suads but Sellas Tetteh kept faith in this young talent by naming him in his Black Satellites squad. Currently, without Agyemang Badu in a Black Stars set-up, great African coaches get a fresh impetus to beat Ghana as it happened in Equatorial Guinea.
Milovan Rajevac came at a time a new tournament was introduced by the Confederation of African Football – African Nations Championship(CHAN), a tournament for exclusively locally-based players. As a result, Rajevac had no choice than to monitor these players in their respective clubs. Nonetheless, before the tournament even came up, he had spotted a Heart of Lions midfielder – Daniel Yeboah – and was featuring this player in almost all Black Stars matches. No wonder Yeboah, who also played for Liberty Professionals and Asante Kotoko, became the captain of the first CHAN team assembled by Ghana. From that CHAN team emerged later Black Stars players such as Samuel Inkoom, Yaw Antwi and Rahim Ayew.
Goran Stevanovic, on the other hand, did not have any penchant for local talent. His interest only lay with Black Star players plying their trade in Europe. He was only interested in using the internet to monitor his players. As a coach, he did not give any regard to local talent no wonder he brushed aside attempts to foist the Emmanuel Baffoes and the Rashid Sumailas on him. This is just one of the many reasons why I think Goran failed and so I ask him to come again with his definition that he was a successful coach for the Black Stars.