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FEATURE: The “evils” we feed our players in Ghana

Posted On Wednesday, 31st July 2013
Kotoko players celebrating.

Kotoko players celebrating.

For a footballer willing to make a good living out of the game, dreams of playing in atmosphere that will develop skills and provide some wonderful monetary rewards is something that is seen from the very first day of training at the lowest level to the top grade.

It is no different for the Ghanaian footballer and a whole lot of them have left the country to better their lives mostly in Europe but some have gone to other parts of the continent where the financial pay-off is relatively good.

The likes of Gladson Awako, Richard Kissi-Boateng and a host of other players are in the Democratic Republic of Congo while Awal Mohammed and others are in South Africa.

It looks good and gives the local game a huge thumbs- up. At least, if we are to believe the inscription on the “surface of the pink sheet” but some recent happenings should quickly set the analytical gears in motion and get us to see the very serious “problems” that our players ingest before they embark on their adventures outside the country.

The reality is that there are scores of players who do not make the cut when they seek to make a break in foreign leagues and unfortunately, the reasons are very home-grown.

Lack of technical knowledge 

There is a general perception that talents abound in Ghana and frankly, I do not doubt that assertion. Each and every Glo Premier League season brings a new “star” and a new headline-grabber.

There is always the player who is wanted by the big clubs and with every good performance, comes the news that he has become the toast of Europe’s elite clubs.

Unfortunately, the adulation, hype, fame darken out the technical aspects of that player’s game that must be improved if he will succeed out there in a very competitive footballing world. The result? He fails to impress his suitor and the road to fame suddenly falls off into an abyss.

A good example is former Glo Premier League top scorer, Emmanuel Baffoe whose 21 goals in the 2010/2011 for New Edubiase, got him a move to South African PSL side, Mamelodi Sundowns.

The move was the last thing that was heard about the player’s activity. What followed was a long period of bench warming at the Pretoria club.

We all wondered what had happened to the player whose call-up into the national team before the CAN 2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea was big news. 

The answer came from Sundowns coach, Pitso Motisimane, in a press conference in Accra in earlier in the month when his team came down for pre-season training.

He said, “ Baffoe is good player but he could not understand the dynamics of the South African game. Our game is quick and he did not seem to understand it because in truth, he is not really a very pacey player. I also discovered that he was more adept at playing as a second striker and so, he had to had to be sacrificed to save the team because I wanted two main strikers for pace and goals.”

Commiserations to Baffoe about being sacrificed because no one would want that but Pitso’s statements struck a very strong chord.

If the nation’s top striker at that time could not make the grade in South Africa, one can only imagine what is in store for those further down the ladder. 

The underlying truth is that there is very little technical education for our players and that is heavily exposed when they must compete with others who may not be necessarily better in terms of talent, but have the compliment of some sound technical education. 

We may blame players for their own failures but it also says a lot of the coaches who are grow these players. They also need to be rewired.

Fitness issues

Football is a tough sport and it requires a physical frame that is well-conditioned and durable. Being skilled without the body to carry out the basic duties is counter-productive.

There is a lot of premium placed on those who possess strength to move them about on the pitch and that is why players like Victor Wanyama and Yaya Toure are valuable even in this day when the false-nine, and the deep-lying playmakers are landlords of fans and coaches’ wish list.

Yakubu Mohammed

Yakubu Mohammed

But Yakubu Mohammed’s bizzare encounter with Orlando Pirates quickly brought home something quite interesting. According to media reports, Mohammed’s attempted move to the Buccaners ended after the first training where his awful level of fitness was revealed.

“He had one session and after 30 minutes, he pulled off. He was out of breath and he couldn’t keep up. So I mean really are we going to sign a player who can only do 30 minutes of training? You must remember that if you are going to bring in a foreigner he must be better than what you have,”

Those were the words of Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa in an interview with

The player who has scored at least ten goals in the last three seasons with AshantiGold could not go through more than 30 minutes of a training session of a South African club and that one that should look and feel like one in any standard European club. 

Yakubu Mohammed’s case is one that has received media attention but it never a novelty.

There are countless stories of players who have failed to go through simple training sessions in places like Israel where football might not have the high aura of England, Spain and Germany and frankly, it is worrying for the credentials of the local game.

Naughty habits

Our understanding (or misunderstanding) of the game has shaped our players into viewing the game in a certain way and those ideas often left them down when they must perform in better and stricter atmoshperes.

Very often, the Glo Premier League sees loads of players escaping punishment for several vicious tackles. It is quite difficult to tell if match officials fail to spot these or they overlook them but there have been challenges that should not be allowed on a football pitch. Yet, the hard tackler is cheered and hailed as a solid defender in Ghana but out there, he fails to survive because the modern game has no place for these things.

Former Kotoko defender, Gideon Baah, is now in Finland with Honka FC and he confirms this to Citi FM in an interview on Monday.

“ In Finland, the referees are very strict when it comes to some of the very strong challenges but in Ghana, they are left unpunished.”

That is a comparison that must have hit Baah hard on arrival there because it showed how wrong a direction we have been charting for the players who must eventually fill the various national teams. It spoke of our inability to bring the local game to a point where it will be really be a good platform for our players. 


The ideal situation would have entailed making the league very financially rewarding so that players will remain but if that is too far-fetched, we need to make the league a very good learning experience for the players who want to move outside the country.

So, with Mahatma Otoo, Awal Mohammed, Yakubu Mohammed, Daniel Nii Agyei and Fataw Dauda, all supposedly heading out to their various destinations in coming weeks, the question that should occupy our thoughts should be: “What will they show to the outside world?”

By: Nathan Quao/

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  1. T.I King says:

    Haha also feed them with cow Dungs……..they will be stronger!!

  2. POW@Keep Akwasi says:

    That’s a very nice piece Nathan, keep the good work up.

  3. Fifa One says:

    We can’t blame the players, we can only blame the technical men’s (team) in our various clubs starting from the Juvenal side to our main premier league. Our local coaches are big time failures. Then also we have no proper system for our youth football development. For example all of you here know that all our football players comes from the system of small poles (gutter Gutter) football in school or in our small parks in our areas during break time or after school when you get back home or when it is vacation time. That is how all our local footballers grew up. Who then will teach them the technical aspect of the game?.

  4. EA1us says:

    What a poor written article!! The whole entire world face these challenges, not just us. If there’s anything to be mentioned, it’s higher EDUCATION!! Don’t you (writer) sound a little torpidity?? WAKE UP!!!

  5. Ghanaman says:

    Good article but, don’t fall for the hype of some jealous Ethnic South Africans. If they knew the game so well they would not need to cheat Ethiopia to try to go to the world cup. They would not be the only country to host the world cup to exit in the group. Indeed they are arrogant with nothing to show for it.

  6. EA1us says:

    If you ( writer ) have such suggestions send it to the gfa, don’t put it in the middle of a STREET infront of the world. Regardless how you slice it, some will make it others perhaps not. That’s reality, africans already have enough to deal with in overseas. So now you want to give several racial white coaches a reason, to undermine our guys?? WISE UP!!!!!

  7. sam says:

    @EA1us….it happens everywhere as you rightly said but we r concern with the how often it happens to Ghanaian footballers compared with other foreign footballers! if you consider that and read carefully,you wud realise Ghanaian football administrators and technical staff are not doing much

  8. sam says:

    to keep our players abreast with modern football technicallities and philosophy! its a very good article Nathan, just that it might not get to GFA and GHALCA who are soo indecisive and sometimes technically bankrupt compared to other football boards in other countries!

  9. S.A blue says:

    Useless gaynian players without football brains flooding our league,because their league is shite and poor without money.Well the gaynians are average and not good enough for our leagues that’s why they don’t make it.But they keep on coming because they have no choice(you won’t expect them to remain in a poor gaynian league).
    They do well in the gaynian league,why?-becos its soooo poor.But when they come to a big league like ours,they flop big time because they are useless and not up to our standard.
    A footballer that can’t train for more than 30 minutes is a DOG and is not worthy to play football.What would happen if he goes to europe where the training is more intense??.He would probably faint and be sent back home immediately to gayna.Lol

  10. Andrew in Nigeria says:

    1st of all i agree totally with the article and I’ll like to stress that poor education of coaches isn’t an isolated problem. Education in Ghana in whatever field is poor and it’s not treated as a problem needing urgent solutions. I was happy when Nana Addo brought the free SHS thing but i won’t go into dat.
    2nd, you S.A BLUE, the poor Gh league produces players like Essien, Muntari, Asamoah, Appiah and the likes yet PSL stars don’t get to big European teams except the foreigners who come to play in it. South Africans and Ghanaians lack ambition but South Africans lack it more. I visit frequently and i see how much ur fellow country are frustrated by the failure of SA players to make it big just like the Zambians. So pls get away wit ur false gratification


    what abt those who go out there and make the mark just on arrival. Talk abt Affum of Young Boys who was top scorer in the Ghana league abt 2 seasons ago, Accam, Edwin Gyimah who was the best player for supersports last season, Abdul Majeed Warris and recently GIdeon Baah etc. Forlan floped in England but flourished elsewhere. Football is a funny game and every coach has the type of players they like so if a player doesnt fit into someones team does not mean he is not good enough. the writer of this article needs to look at the other side as well.

  12. GH Panther says:

    its not a bad article but it doesn’t stand out either. i sincerely believe dat its not necessarily a problem of bad technical direction but one of adjustment to different leagues/env’t which is a worldwide issue. weather changes and pace of a league are major factors of adjustment. lack of understading of these dynamics cud lead to wrong conclusions as to who is a better player. consider this. 2 strikers, one a skillful and pacey one, the other slow but powerful and physically strong. in training, the pacy player may seem better and fit in racing exercises but as a striker finishing is the most important attribute. in a game situation, this player may take on a no. of defenders but waste chances whereas the slow but powerful one may not beat defenders per say but can shield the ball with strength and with better finishing will be a better striker by virtue of more goals and better conversion drogba finishes great even on a turn and is strong but is not necessarily the fastest of strikers. its important to note dat its equally difficult for a pacy player to adjust to a relatively slow game as it is for a less pacy one to a faster game. some players may adjust immediately whereas more others take some games to cope but end up being the better ones.all attributes esp those relating to a player’s role as MD, CF or DF together determine how easy a player adjusts to a different league and thus, who ends up the better player.

  13. Blow says:

    Ghanaian players by nature are very slow and that does not auger well for the future of our game. If we can bring some pace and physicality into play which I doubt our technicians have even realised, will make our dreams become real.

  14. KT says:

    GH Panther hit the nail right in the head. I think every nation has their style of play, and it comes up as an adaptation to our weather, economy,belief, aims and ideology. The fact that Baffour and Mohammed couldn’t run doesn’t make them failures. Does it? I think the positive we can take from these situations is that we should find money and really develop our game well domestically. That way, we can be establishing our own form of soccer that we will understand and do well in. That way, our Mahatma Otoos, Baffours, Mohammeds will know it well and be the toast of the world when they play. Plu, they will be getting good money here. It will boost our local economy too. This is the way to go. Even with that we may make a mark in world soccer, we wouldn’t have to be begging players to play. Just look at Spain. Messi fits so well in Barca, but in Argentina, he is mere. Bring Cristiano to Brazil or SA to play and he may flop. That doesn’t make him bad. So please, let’s invest in our style of play.

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