Jerome Otchere Writes: Ghana, Nigeria Face-Off



Jerome Otchere

It’ll be interesting to see the kind of choices the four-man technical team, led by Coach Otto Addo, and put together by the Ghana Football Association (GFA), make when they name their team for the Ghana-Nigeria World Cup qualifier this month.

Whether or not their selection will come, free of unseen hands at the GFA or the Black Stars management committee may be anybody’s guess. But when there’s been a “decree” that, coaches’ independence is a thing of the past, it’s not too out of order to assume that the coaches’ selection could be in line with the preferences of the powers that be.

No disrespect but that could mean a compromised player selection. Despite all the ills that come with stifling coaches’ freedom to pick players based on their conviction, many of us will be happy though, if Ghana secures the Qatar 2022 World Cup ticket. That’s necessary as it serves the greater national interest.

Also fascinating will be the local players making up the squad and whether at all, they’ll have to playtime in any of the two matches to play, first on March 25 at the Cape Coast Stadium and days later in Abuja, Nigeria. Given the crucial nature of the qualifiers, I’m doubtful there’ll be reckless gambles like the dubious certification of injured, unfit players or the inexplicable inclusion of a veritably non-available player.

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I expect the professional quartet of coaches Otto Addo, Didi Dramani, George Boateng, and Technical Advisor, Chris Houghton to know better. They shouldn’t repeat the poor decisions supervised by ex-coach Milovan Rajevac and which culminated in our 2021 AFCON fiasco. The quartet will earn more public trust if they’re seen to be diligent.

We should expect the best but those tasked with the management of the team at every level must be intentional about their decisions. We should as well be confident and supportive even if some people have doubts that we can make it to Qatar.

News of Nigeria’s preparation, rightly so, has found space in our media. Visits to players abroad, meetings they’ve held including the “acquisition” of new Nigerian-born player (s) in Europe are positive. Nigeria fared better than us at the 2021 AFCON but they also flattered to deceive. Their exit at the 1/16th stage after winning all group matches was a low point.

That throws a line of hope for us. Nigeria isn’t invincible. No matter who’s in good form, matches of this kind spring surprise. On this premise, it’ll not only be unpatriotic but also unwise to write off the Black Stars knowing the illogicality of football.

The GFA hasn’t come public on our preparation for the game but it’s no indication of idleness. It’s even better things are kept under wrap and our plans to secure qualification unleashed on Nigeria when and where it matters most. Anything is possible.

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