Ghana’s enemy is now a world star

Which Ghanaian doesn’t know El Pistolero? He is a hero in Uruguay but hated by most if not every Ghanaian. Suarez single-handedly sent Ghana out of the 2010  FIFA World Cup South Africa™.  Suarez has been in electric form for club and country.

Edinson Cavani’s pass was accurate as it reached its intended target, El Pistolero. Luis Suarez had only a fraction of a second to decide what to do with the ball. He quickly found space behind Paraguay defender Ivan Piris and fed Diego Forlan with ball to make it 3-0. Justo Villar, for once looked vulnerable, after putting up so many man of the match performances in the Copa America. This victory ensured Uruguay’s 15th Copa America title in Buenos Aires .It was a moment Africa’s cursed man will never forget, a moment to cement his status as one of the best strikers in the world, a time to clear his already tarnished image.

Suarez was former Fulham and Norwegian international Erik Nevland’s strike partner at FC Groningen .His teammates labelled Suarez as being selfish and that he always played for himself instead of the team. He passed a comment during one of the team’s half-time pep talks. He told Nevland, ‘ I will give you all the balls but when have you ever given me an assist ’. Since then, the Uruguayan provided his colleagues with a lot of assists. In Groningen he provided 6 assists but it was in Amsterdam that his stock rose. At Ajax, he made fifteen decisive passes averagely in his last season with the Dutch champions. He continued this act at Liverpool, a club he joined in January, where he has made more assists than goals.

He was voted Player of the Tournament at the 2011 Copa America. The former Ajax player was the driving force of a team that proved that the fourth place in the last World Cup was no fluke.Still only 24 years of age, this product of Nacional de Montevideo’s youth system has already racked up five years’ experience in the European game .At senior international level he has struck 26 times in 52 matches, averaging a goal every other game, and taking him level with the tally of Sebastian ‘El Loco’ Abreu (the man who scored the ‘Panenka’ and decisive penalty which eliminated Ghana from the World Cup) and just six behind Forlan, La Celeste’s all-time top scorer.

Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera has really come of age this season. The Diego Lugano (PSG)-Sebastain Coates (Liverpool) central defence partnership blends experience with youth and exudes an unprecedented aggressiveness and will to win. The wing backs Maxi Perreira and Martin Caceres do all the running for ninety minutes on the sidelines and they are one of the best when it comes to one-on-one marking.

Perez and Egidio Arevalo are Uruguay’s ‘hoovers’ in midfield for central duo behind them and also perform defending duties when the need arises. That granitic block of six makes gives the other four attacking players space to operate and initiate attacks. The flank players Alvaro Gomez and Alvaro Perreira benefitted from Perez and Arevalo’s high working rate.

The Forlan-Suarez partnership is one of the best in world football at the moment and the duo can kill any opposition. Suarez had a completely free role. Such a role allows ‘Ghana”s enemy’ to be at his best. The striker is an opportunist of the purest kind.Luis Suarez scored all four goals as Uruguay beat Chile 4-0 in the third round of the South American qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.


Every opposition coach is almost forced to let his team respond to the irritating actions of Suarez during games. He’s every defender’s nightmare.Martin Jol did it at Ajax and was rewarded with goals and assists, Oscar Tabarez did it with Uruguay and he got the Copa America in return.

I will never forget 2nd July, 2010 because of this man who broke the hearts of millions of Africans in the world. The curse has become a blessing in disguise because Africa’s cursed man has become a world star.


Are footballers obliged to give back to society?

Most African football stars started life from a humble and rather difficult background. However, their economic and social status went through a speedy transformation and began to live luxurious lifestyles in Europe forgetting their roots.They are under no obligation to give back to society what they have earned legitimately, but impacting society is part of their social responsibilities.

While some show off their material gains  some few good ones, despite finding fame and fortune in Europe, have never lost sight of those they left behind in hardship. A growing number of footballers have shown remarkable social responsibility by giving back to the society which developed their young talents.
Ghana’s midfield general Michael Essien is a typical example. He has not forgotten his roots.

After watching Saturday June 18th’s edition of TV3’s  DIVAS show, I realised how ungrateful and shallow minded some Ghanaians could be.TV 3‘s Nana Aba Anamoah who is the host of the show invited Afua (Jane Awindor), Confidence (Big Brother Africa), David Addy (Black Stars) and Vesta (had never seen or heard of her before the show).Vesta replaced Addy in the latter part of the programme.

Nana Aba actually brought Vesta on for that short period to just insult Essien. She said she wouldn’t date Essien because he is short and that he couldn’t speak in public. I don’t have a problem with that. She really surprised me with some of the things she said. ’ Just 2 boreholes?He should build a school for his community’. She went on to say that the Michael Essien Peace match which took place last month in Accra was of no importance and that Essien had done nothing.The Bible never lies and I now understand why Jesus was not even accepted by his own,“A Prophet Has No Honour in His Own Country”

Essien has set up the Michael Essien Foundation to raise funds to give the underprivileged of his home town access to basic amenities like healthcare equipment, libraries, public toilets and clean drinking water. He is also involved in several charity work including the ‘Reading Goals’ to inculcate reading habits in students.

What has Vesta done for her community? Does she know the cost of one borehole? Where are our politicians? Is Essien a politician? Is he obliged to carry out such duties?After all he worked for his money and he can decide whatever he wants to do with it.

What footballers can do politicians can’t do. Ghanaians should give Essien a break.

Shortlists for first FIFA Ballon d’Or gala revealed-Ghana’s Gyan named for World Player of the year

Who will claim the FIFA Ballon d’Or and the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year awards for 2010? Who will be the first to win the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award? FIFA and France Football have today announced the names of the players and coaches on the shortlists for these awards (see below), and the final decisions will be made by the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected by France Football.

The winners will be revealed at the first FIFA Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised ceremony at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 10 January 2011, during which the FIFA/FIFPro World XI and the FIFA Puskás Award for the most beautiful goal of the year will also be announced for the second year running. The FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented during the gala.

The lists of 23 male and ten female candidates, as well as the two lists of ten coaches, have been drawn up by football experts from the Football Committee, the Technical and Development Committee and the Committee for Women’s Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, as well as by a group of experts from France Football.The alliance between FIFA and the Amaury Group to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or was signed in Johannesburg on 5 July 2010. The award is a combination of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and the France Football Ballon d’Or.

Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan has been named by FiFA for the World Player of the Year award.The Sunderland striker is among the 23 players nominated by the world governing body for the biggest personal award in world football.His performances during the 2010 World Cup where he steered the Black Stars to the quarter finals is one reason why he was named.Gyan’s leading role in the Black Stars final appearance in January’s Africa Cup of Nations in Angola convinced FIFA  to name him.The fact that Gyan is among the three Africans named in the award will certainly boost his chances of winning the Africa Player of the Year award.

But the Sunderland player will face a tough opposition for the Fifa award as some of the best of the best in world football were named in the shortlist.Last year’s winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina as well as Real Madrid’s Portuguese playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo were named for the award.Seven members of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad made it onto the shortlist for the first ever FIFA Ballon d’Or award.Xavi, David Villa, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas were the Spaniards who made the list, but there was no place for an Englishman, Frenchman or Italian after their poor performances in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award will be presented for the first time.On 6 December 2010, FIFA and France Football will announce at a media event in Paris the names of the three men and three women, as well as the three men’s coaches and three women’s coaches, who have received the most votes.

Shortlists for the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2010

The following 23 men (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010:
Xabi Alonso (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlán (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Júlio César (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Maicon (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Mesut Özil (Germany), Carles Puyol (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).

The following ten women (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the title of FIFA Women’s World Player 2010:
Camille Abily (France), Fatmire Bajramaj (Germany), So Yun Ji (Korea Republic), Marta (Brazil), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Caroline Seger (Sweden), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Kelly Smith (England), Hope Solo (USA) and Abby Wambach (USA).

The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order, first nationality and then team) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football 2010:
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Chelsea FC), Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Barcelona), Joachim Löw (Germany/Germany national team), José Mourinho (Portugal/FC Internazionale Milano and Real Madrid CF), Oscar Tabárez (Uruguay/Uruguay national team), Louis Van Gaal (Netherlands, FC Bayern Munich), Bert Van Marwijk (Netherlands/Netherlands national team) and Arsène Wenger (France/Arsenal).

The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order, first nationality and then team) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football 2010:
Bruno Bini (France/France national team), In Cheul Choi (Korea Republic/Korea Republic U-20 national team), Maren Meinert (Germany/Germany U-20 national team), Albertin Montoya (USA/FC Gold Pride), Silvia Neid (Germany/Germany national team), Hope Powell (England/England national team), Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japan national team), Bernd Schröder (Germany/FFC Turbine Potsdam), Pia Sundhage (Sweden/USA national team), Béatrice von Siebenthal (Switzerland/Switzerland national team).

Can football stamp out cheating?

Cheating was rewarded in spectacular fashion during Uruguay’s World Cup quarterfinal victory over Ghana, and football should consider changing its rules to stop it happening again.

Down the years, we have seen plenty of players handle the ball to stop it going over the line, but the difference with Luis Suarez’s transgression was its timing.

It was in the dying seconds of extra-time and there was no time for the subsequent red card to affect Uruguay’s chances. If Suarez hadn’t used his hands to block Dominic Adiyiah’s header, Ghana would have become the first African country ever to reach a World Cup semifinal.

Suarez was sent off. Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot-kick and Uruguay went on to win the penalty shootout.In rugby union, if an infringement by the defending team stops a certain try, then it is awarded anyway. The attacking side gets the points on the board, instead of a penalty kick which they might miss.

There is a similar rule in basketball. Maybe football should consider a change too? Looking at the Suarez case, who could argue against the fairness of Ghana being awarded a goal instead of a penalty kick?

The ball was going in. The only thing that stopped it was the Uruguayan’s hand – a part of the body that should never play a part in football, unless you’re the goalkeeper.

Suarez has joked about how he is now his country’s back-up goalie, and there is something a little disturbing about how much he is relishing his role as Uruguay’s hero. Instead, he should feel guilty for being Ghana’s villain and denying them a place in African sporting history.

However, I would not go as far as to say this was the new “Hand of God.” Diego Maradona’s cheating in 1986 was cynical. He had time to know that he was doing something illegal, but he did it anyway. Suarez’s handball was far more instinctive. He had almost no time to react.

But he could have been a bit more humble about it – and maybe the International Football Association Board, the sport’s rule-makers, should consider a change when they meet.

Luis Suarez, left, uses his arms to deny Ghana a dramatic late winner.

Luis Suarez, left, uses his arms to deny Ghana a dramatic late winner.

Africa’s football ages.










Age cheating has become a cancer to African football.Junior tournaments are running the risk of being inconsequential to the development of African football. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon were fond of fielding over aged players in international youth tournaments.
“He’s only 25, albeit a Nigerian 25, and so if that is his age he’s still got a good few years ahead of him.” Believe it or not this is manager praising his own player! The words were said by one David Moyes, manager of Everton, after his striker Yakubu Ayegbeni scored a hat-trick in a UEFA Cup game.On face value, the statement is the purest form of blatant racism and typical European talk trashing African players. But doesn’t Africa have itself to blame for this perception?

Age cheating is a common practice in African football to an extent that players in amateur leagues are known to have two ages, the football age and the real age. In my own country Ghana, we have had several players protesting their innocence once they burst into the professional league only for some of them to buckle under the stress and confess.In no way trying to motivate their reasons for cheating, but one could always claim that the real cause of the problem lies in the dire social and economic  problems most Africans find themselves in.

They “fix” their age, mostly to the level of teenagers because scouts, as an indirect consequence, are always on the look out for the young hot thing. In Africa it is almost unheard that a player gets signed to a major European league in their mid-twenties.And with those chances slipping away daily because there is no infrastructure to identify, develop and nurture their talents.

But what of the agents, surely they must know? Truth is, some agents have been known to encourage doctoring of ages. The consequence of this phenomenon is that deserving talents miss the opportunity to be scouted as they are invariably outshone by cheats.Age cheating is destroying football development in Africa. It makes tournaments useless because some players must not be playing because they are too old.

In their bid to curb age cheating in football, Football’s world governing body (FIFA) introduced MRI testing to determine the true age of players representing their various nations at the current Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria. In a trial run, 15 out of the Nigerian team’s 32 players failed the test, causing a major controversy.
The tests are currently the only reliable means of determining the ages of players. The recent proposal by the Nigerian NFFs Chairman to call the parents of the players to ask them the players’ ages is ridiculous.
“Nobody will ever believe that. We live in an age of technology and we should make use of it. Otherwise, what’s the point of playing such tournaments if older playing are taking part?”

Football administrators believe age cheating took a leap after the commercialisation of the game in Africa. Clubs and footballers’ agents have been accused of encouraging players alter their age so that it becomes less hard to obtain contracts with European clubs looking out for young talents.

Some players, and one doesn’t need to be expert on the subject to observe that some players look decidedly dodgy. Take a look at Kanu at age 20. Obafemi Martins, seems to have been playing forever, Nii Lamptey of Ghana seems to have suffered from age related injuries and fatigue and Freddy Adu.It is no wonder then Africa totally dominates FIFA age-specific championships but never translate and maintain those high standards and expectations to the very top.Ghana is a dominant force when it comes to FIFA age group tournaments. Two times under 17 Champions, three times African U 20 Champions and alsothe current  world U20 Champions. Nigeria another African Super power dominating age specific tournaments, three times FIFA U17 champions and Olympic Gold winners.

With such success, none have gone on to dominate the world stage particularly at the FIFA World Cups or even provide a player to rival the likes of George Weah and Kalusha Byalwa.Almost every age-specific championships is littered with complaints and suspicions of age cheating from African teams—the recent U17 African Championship was an orgy of accusations, some of which sadly were proven correct.You would think CAF would take the matter seriously and urgently, that it would then put time and money to eradicate what is clearly a black eye on the continent’s image.

But not them, the Francophone dominated institution is only too happy to bash European media and enjoy FIFA perks than do anything to clean up their houses.

I hate to be a pessimists, but untill CAF as the mother body take the issue seriously and FIFA actively makes the matter a priority, Africa will suffer forever and we can kiss 2010 and every World Cup after that goodbye.




Taiwo: Ghana have set an example

A beaming smile, thunderous shot and tireless running were the qualities that caught the eye as Nigeria’s Taye Taiwo helped his side finish runners-up at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Netherlands 2005. Five years on, the full-back still hits the ball hard and his grin remains as broad as ever as he patrols the left flank for Marseille and the Super Eagles. Shown the ropes at Lobi Stars, Taiwo was just 19 when OM lured him to southern France as back-up to veteran defender Bixente Lizarazu. He did not have to wait long for his chance as Philippe Troussier handed him a first-team debut after just two outings in the reserves. Since then, he has made the left-back spot his own at the Stade Velodrome, despite the regular influx of supposed rivals to his post. Voted France’s best left-back two years in succession and reputed for his fearsome left foot, the fan of Laurent Blanc is now one of the most popular players among the Marseille faithful. His hard work and dedication were rewarded in 2009/10 as OM clinched the Ligue 1 title and French League Cup crown, but those highs were followed by the low of slumping out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ at the first hurdle.  Taiwo reflected on his time with Marseille, Nigeria’s woes in South Africa and the example Ghana have set for the rest of African football to follow.

Taye, every summer you seem to be linked with clubs in Spain, Italy and England but you always begin the next season at Marseille. Do you enjoy playing for OM?

Taye Taiwo: I still feel happy here. I arrived here very young, straight from Nigeria and a long way from my family and friends. But, right from the start, I was made to feel welcome in this beautiful city and great club. They’ve made it possible for me to develop my game and play at the highest level. I feel at home here now. It’s not impossible that I might spend the rest of my career here, but if I have to leave one day I know Marseille will always have a place in my heart. For the moment, though, I’m here and I’m happy to be here. Last May, OM won the French league and League Cup, the club’s first silverware in 17 years. What do you remember about those wins? Obviously, that was an unforgettable time – and for me personally because the thing I love most of all is to win. My whole family in Nigeria was in tears. It was also just reward for the club, which has worked very hard and continued to progress ever since I arrived. We’d come close the two previous seasons and maybe the arrival of Didier Deschamps brought us the little extra we were lacking to take the next step. Lastly, it was also a fantastic reward for the supporters. They always follow us, wherever we go; they give their time and money to follow us by coach, train or plane. We were very happy to be able to thank them for their support by winning them trophies. Since last year, you have been handed more responsibility, including penalty duties and the captain’s armband on occasion. Do you enjoy that? I’m not one of the older players but I’m one of the more senior ones. It’s a pleasure and an honour to see that the coach and my team-mates have faith in me. They’re the ones who decide who takes the penalties, as happened towards the end of last season at Boulogne. It was a difficult match and we won a penalty in the last minute. They said: ‘Taye will take it.’ When people show that they’re counting on you, you can’t miss. I had to bury it and the [2-1] win was very important in the title race.

Since you joined Marseille, the club have recruited several left-backs, but come the end of the season you have always been first choice, having played more matches than your rivals. What is it like to always have that competition for your place? There’s nothing to be afraid of. Whatever the competition, the situation always comes down to work and who deserves it most. Why put pressure on yourself when another player arrives who plays in the same position? Myself, I carry on doing everything I can to show I’m the best in my position. If I manage to convince the coach, all the better: I get to play and I’m happy. If someone else works harder than me, I say well done to him, sit on the bench and support my team-mates. That’s also how you win competitions: with good players but also with a good attitude. Your approach seems to be quite instinctive too. Whether you are playing for club or country, it looks as if you give your all in every match and never doubt yourself, even when you have come in for criticism. That’s my way of playing: to always give 100 per cent. I tell myself that every opponent I come up against does the same job as me, whatever level he plays at. If he gives everything, I don’t have the right to give less. I can’t afford to either under-estimate him or fear him. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing against, my mission is always the same: to stop him from getting past me and to help my team going forward. Whether it’s a World Cup game, a Champions League game or a match against a fifth-division team, for 95 minutes you don’t have the right to take your foot off the pedal. Of course, no one can be good all the time and I might come in for criticism, but I can never be accused of not being combative or not trying to improve.

Nigeria had a disappointing FIFA World Cup, going out at the group stage. What were the reasons behind that? It was a huge disappointment because we have very good players and we could have done a lot better. But you can’t pull off a miracle when you have a coach who’s been appointed just before the tournament. [Lars Lagerback] just about knew the main players, but it takes time to get to know all the players, in which system they feel most comfortable, how to position them, who plays well together and how to get the best mix between experience and youth. It would be stupid to think we were knocked out because of Sani Keita’s red card [against Greece]. What makes us regret it all even more is that our group wasn’t that tough. The appointment of Samson Siasia will undoubtedly be good for us. He knows all that already and he’s very familiar with the players and working methods.

Taye Taiwo You have played under well-known European coaches such as Berti Vogts and Lars Lagerback, and Nigerian coaches like Shaibu Amodu and Christian Chukwu. Which type of coach is best suited to the Nigeria job? We need a coach who has time – that’s all. Time to familiarise himself with the African mentality in general and the Nigerian mentality in particular; time to get to know each player’s strengths and weaknesses; time to find the best system for the players available; and time to improve what’s working after a win and correct mistakes after a loss. The appointment of Samson Siasia will undoubtedly be good for us. He knows all that already and he’s very familiar with the players and working methods. He was my coach at Under-20 level and I’m pleased to be working with him again.

After the failure to qualify for Germany 2006 and the early exit at South Africa 2010, do you get the impression Nigeria have stopped progressing? That’s the overall problem with African football. We lack patience and detachment when we analyse things. When we win a match, everyone thinks we’ll become world champions and the whole country wants a piece of the victory. Then, when we lose, we immediately have to change everything. We’ll only be able to progress when the governing bodies have more patience and stability. We have to use Ghana as an example. They kept the same coach, had time to work and they know each other well and play for each other too. It’s not surprising that they were Africa’s best representatives at the World Cup.

Would you class Ghana as the best African team at the moment? They’re the example to follow. They arrived in South Africa without star names but when they performed it was for their country, whereas in other teams the players were trying to put in the best individual performance possible. The Ghanaians are organised, disciplined, track back as soon as they lose the ball, and they play at pace and combine well together. They had the time to learn how to play together, get to know their coach and put his system into place. Added to that, they also have an excellent youth team. They know the secret and we have to learn it as well.

Lastly, you are reputed for your powerful shot. Is that something you still work on and is there a player who strikes the ball harder than you? I don’t know if they hit it harder, but the Brazilian, Roberto Carlos, and Norway’s John Arne Riise aren’t bad either. I don’t think power is something you can work on, though: it’s innate. Hitting the target is something else, on the other hand – and that’s something I still need to practice .

Is £13m a lot of money for a striker who only scored 14 goals for Rennes?

Steve  Bruce has conjured up the signing of Ghana World Cup star Asamoah Gyan.But £13.25 million is a lot of money for a striker who only scored 14 goals in 48 games for his previous club Rennes. We have seen players such as David Healy who excel for their national side while not really hacking it in the top league in the world, so let us hope that Gyan is different, age at least is on his side.The £13 million Sunderland paid for Asamoah Gyan looks extravagant but they had little choice. With Frazer Campbell injured and Kenwyne Jones sold, Sunderland needed another goal poacher.

If Gyan settles and conjures up a good partnership with Darren Bent, then the sale of Jones looks like good business, even though he was a crowd favourite. Danny Welbeck will definitely be called upon again after the news of Campbell’s cruciate knee injury and the resultant half-year absence.

Bruce’s transfer market moves will be tested in the cut and thrust of the Premier League, but the investments will be important to tide the team over until the return of other key players such as Craig Gordon and Andy Reid.

Asamoah Gyan