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Kwesi Appiah’s Call to Rajevac – A Masterstroke!!

Papa Appiah: I have criticized Kwesi Appiah more than most. But if it is true that he has contacted Coach Milovan Rajevac to become his assistant, then the guy would have won my respect. And let me add quickly, before I am wrongly accused, that this has nothing to do with the fact that Milo is a white man. It has all to do with competence, tactical knowledge and qualification.

The great Sir Alex Ferguson, after all his successes in the English premier league, realized he needed to raise the tactical aspect of his team’s play a notch to be able to compete with the great European sides. He went to the European mainland and sought the services of Carlos Quiroz, the Portuguese tactician, to be his assistant, and the rest is history. This did not make Alex Ferguson any less of a great coach. In the end, a great coach is not necessarily one who knows everything, but one who is equally aware of his strengths and weaknesses and is capable of recruiting the right men to assist him.

Even Jose Mourinho does not know it all. He is a leader of men, and a psychologist who is able to motivate men to perform for him. But he is not solely responsible for all the intricacies of Chelsea’s play. Not by any means. He always has dedicated and trusted assistants, who are all top professionals in their areas of speciality.

Neither did Brian Clough know it all. This is the man who is still said to be the greatest manager ever in England. But he never won anything without Peter Taylor. For while Brian Clough was the charismatic figure who led the team and motivated the boys, Peter Taylor was the tactical genius with an excellent eye for talent. Together, they made a wonderful team.

The great Martin O’Neal, one of the most respected coaches in the UK, never went to the pitch to coach anybody. He watched training from a distance. He recruited experts in various areas of the game and then he came in on match days to read out the team, discuss tactics and motivate the players. Yet when his teams performed well, no one ever remembered who the coaches were. It was all Martin O’Neal, the genius.

If Kwesi Appiah has impressed me in one area, it has been his ability to get the players to play for him. We should not underestimate that. That is a quality all the good coaches have. They seem to really like him and are prepared to go the extra mile for him. That is very important. For, it does not matter how clever a coach is. If the players are not ready to play for him, he will fail. The France team in the 2010 World Cup easily comes to mind.

But it takes more than “love” to perform well in the World Cup. No footballer needs to be motivated or has to love Kwesi Appiah or for that matter, any other coach to perform in the World Cup. This is a one in four year event that every footballer looks forward to; a once in a lifetime opportunity to show the whole world what they are capable of. So rather than love for a coach, professional preparation, tactical ingenuity and physical preparedness matter more than anything.

Maxwell Konadu is an up and coming coach who will someday rise to the very top in coaching in Ghana. But for this World Cup, where we are in the same group with Germany, Portugal and Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA, seeking the services of Milovan Rajevac to help Maxwell is no disgrace. When the issue of technical director came up, some of us argued, that it was wrong to have a director above Kwesi Appiah. It would only breed confusion. But there is nothing wrong if Kwesi Appiah himself brings in Milo to serve under him and take responsibility of certain aspects of preparation that he might find himself wanting in. It is no disgrace at all. On the contrary, it would have confirmed his maturity as a person and as a coach. And the glory goes to him if Ghana should excel.

So this is time to ignore sentiments about what colour of coach we have and concentrate on hard professional decisions. This is the World Cup. Kwesi Appiah may never get the chance to coach in one again if this one goes wrong. However, if he gets it right, I promise you, no one will remember who his assistant was.

Papa Appiah


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