Over the last few days, or perhaps weeks, the media space has been saturated with stories over the return of an INACTIVE Asamoah Gyan to the Black Stars ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be staged in Qatar.
Varied opinions have been expressed; some, sentimental as usual, and others rational with sound arguments.
I have listened, I have read and have watched so many people arguing aggressively as to whether Gyan should be given a last chance to the Black Stars or not.
In all these, one thing keeps popping up whenever the argument raises its head: why must we even consider someone who has been inactive from football for over 24 months for a major tournament like the World Cup? Are we serious? Sacrificing the sporting integrity of our dear national team to the interest of one person? Will that be a GYAN interest or a GHANA interest? And why must it be Gyan?
People have been using Roger Miller as the measuring rod to consolidate their argument for the inclusion of Gyan into the Black Stars. But please before you join the calls for Gyan by using Miller as an example, remember Roger Miller was an active player for Montpellier, Saint-Pierroise and Tonnerre Youande between 1989 and 1990. So if you were thinking of joining them, drop it because your first argument has ‘fall flat.’
Quite more unthinkable is the fact that Gyan has not shown good leadership since he was stripped off the captaincy by the same man who made him the captain – Kwasi Appiah.
For someone who was given the arm band after Kwasi Appiah ignored both Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien who were better positioned than Gyan, expectations were that he would have shown the same level of maturity shown by Muntari and Essien when he was handed the role.
But what did we see? Gyan swiftly announced his retirement from the national team in a statement that clearly showed that he did not respect the decision of the coach and the new captain of the Black Stars Andre Ayew.
The result was clearly manifested in the performance of the team in Egypt where the team exited from the tournament from the round of 16, first time the Black Stars exited the tournament at that stage since 2008. For those who were in Egypt, the division in the team was clearer than crystal: the pro Gyan and pro Dede factions. Is this what we want to see again in Qatar?
Same Gyan jumped into the air to describe the Black Stars’ penalty against South Africa – which was eventually converted by Andre Ayew – as a soft one, adding that the referee could have ignored it and no one would have blamed him. Can you imagine this?
So the team benefited from a ‘soft penalty’ that granted them a play-off slot and eventually qualified for the World Cup and Gyan wants to benefit from the same ‘soft penalty’ he vehemently lamented over, to be at the World Cup? The gods will even be angry.
It’s an open secret that Gyan made those comments because the penalty was converted by Andre Ayew and so he must condemn it at all cost. Same Gyan jumped on the team and denigrated them in an unbelievable fashion when they were knocked out of the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon.
That’s not the role of a legend. Learning to shut up is always a key attribute of revered personalities and if Gyan wants to be respected and be considered a true legend, he must learn to press the mute button always and always.
Clearly, Gyan’s post-Black Stars posture and comments have given him away as a bitter person who is yet to come to terms with the fact that his Black Stars days are over and whoever is in the driving seat must be allowed to lead the team to the World Cup.
In any case, why must Gyan feel that without him, the Black Stars won’t make it. What did the Black Stars achieve under his leadership as captain?
Respectfully, Gyan is revered for his personal achievement as a player, riding on the shoulders of the national team to catapult himself to world glory. But what of the national team? Can we say same? Why is he then making it feel without him, the team can’t make it? Where is that entitlement coming from?
Videos of Gyan training relentlessly are signposts to the fact that he wants to go to the World Cup as a player for the team just because of his own personal glory and not for the team. If not, why will a player who has been inactive for more than 2 years still be pulling all strings aggressively to make it to the World Cup?
Well, just as it took President Akufo-Addo to force Gyan into the team for the AFCON after he had announced his retirement, Gyan and his team are seriously lobbying the president to influence his way into the team once again. That will be a massive test for the Kurt Okraku administration once again and posterity will never forget that.
Not only is Gyan knocking on the doors of President Akufo-Addo to get him into the Black Stars, he’s using the media as well as high profile football administrators like Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe to hammer is Black Stars return agenda.
For me, Otto Addo should not make the slightest of mistakes of including Gyan into the team even if he will not go to the tournament to play. He must not be close to the team in any capacity to the World Cup since he will be a bad influence on the team and his presence in any capacity near the team will be suicidal for the team.
It’s an open secret that Gyan and Andre Ayew aren’t in good terms as clearly demonstrated by both players in several interviews. So if both aren’t friends, what are they? Why then will anybody think of putting the two together to work for a common cause? This is not magic, it’s called science. You don’t put the cat and the mouse in one room and expect peace to prevail in that room.
Gyan must be made to understand his time is over and it’s the era of another leader and must be respected as such.
I’ll end my piece with an analogy from the 2015 AFCON winning squad of Ivory Coast.
Following the appointment of Herve Renard as the head coach of Ivory Coast, he understood the leadership politics in the team between Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba. He then decided to keep with the Yaya Toure faction and left the Drogba faction out of the team, making sure all the Didier Drogba boys weren’t in the team. With this decision, Ivory Coast won the AFCON.
So Otto Addo must be very very careful not to include Gyan in his team to allow for team cohesion, unity and bonding. So far, a new team is evolving and the team cohesion and chemistry is gradually showing its head. The arrival of Gyan in the team, regardless of the role he will be playing, will affect the team and must not be entertained.
By: Wilberforce Kwesi Danso
(L3 Kwame Nkrumah Hall, UCC)