The English Premier league and that of Ghana may bear the same name but you will agree with me that in terms of organization the two are poles apart. The 2012-13 seasons started in both countries almost at the same time.
The English league is completed with all its aftermath massive movement of club managers who make the competition tick.
The great Alex Ferguson has left the touchline at Old Trafford after 26 years of very solid achievements. Mancini has left Manchester City after managing briefly to outshout United for only one season; Benitez has successfully completed his relieving duties at Chelsea with the Europa cup as his legacy and David Moyes is boldly going to fill the vacuum created by Sir Alex.
Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes announcement of his retirement to my mind added some more spice to Sir Alex’s departure. In my part of the world, the king does not travel alone.
And it is fitting that one of Ferguson’s “faithful servants” for more than a decade and half should accompany him on his long historic journey from Old Trafford.
You cannot fault the English for their love for ceremonial events. Indeed the whole farewell ceremony for Ferguson looked like a script from Hollywood. Cast your mind back to the crowning match against Swansea for the presentation of the 20th league trophy to Manchester and the winning goal by Ferdinand, his first goal in five seasons.
And look at the dramatic manner United drew 5-5 with West Bromwich Albion in the final game of the season that was Sir Alex’s last game as United manager.
The score-line was meant to give the departing manager the shock therapy to test the thickness of his skin. It was arguably the first time in history that United had given away a three goal lead in the dying minutes of a game.
On the whole, it was an exciting season and even though the city of Manchester proved once more to be the mecca of English football unlike last season the champion was this time declared quite early, thanks to Alex Ferguson.
Never mind that Rooney is undecided whether to stay at Old Trafford or not , the season was full of thrills just like we have in my country Ghana the major difference being that we don’t seem to keep to a time table .
With three matches to go and three potential winners popping up, the league has been suspended to make room for other national programmes.
Berekum Chelsea 49pts, Kumasi Asante Kotoko 47pts and Tarkwa Medeama 46pts are the front runners. A critical review of the remaining fixtures gives Chelsea a slight edge to win the Cup.
As if by design, Chelsea has two matches against regional neighbours, Aduana Stars of Dormaa and Berekum Arsenal. And there is this strong suspicion that we could have on our hands some matches of convenience.
This is no joke. The history of the league is replete with such cases and the authorities would have to ensure that the reputation of the league is not compromised in any way.
I admit it is extremely difficult to determine a fixed game and it is my wish that for the sake of the game all will play it fair. The league will resume on June 9 and the cynics are saying the time lapse would enable the collaborators to plan some match fixing.
I pray this does not happen and we shall have a worthy champion like the English did and clubs would fight for the top four like Arsenal and Tottenham struggled for on the final day.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.
My good friend Joe who has a unique way of interpreting events foresees the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from the touchline of Manchester United as extremely exciting.
Joe’s immediate fear is that the man is so used to United’s dressing room that at these early stages he was likely to miss his way into the Directors box and stray into the dressing room.
If this happens David Moyes should take no offence but politely ask Rooney to give him the proper direction.
The so called noisy neighbours, Manchester City are rejoicing over the exit of Alexander the Great from Old Trafford and Ivorian midfield general Yaya Toure has summed the feeling in City’s camp with that declaration of hope that the balance of footballing power in Manchester would shift in City’s way.
Toure may also be speaking on behalf of Liverpool who were completely eclipsed during the tenure of Sir Alex and to some extent for Arsenal that continually played second fiddle to United.
There is no doubt that Moyes faces a stiff challenge because of the marvelous record set by Ferguson but it would be unfair to expect him to immediately perform wonders. Luckily, Ferguson has left a solid foundation and Moyes would not need to consult him every 24 hours to succeed.
Sir Alex Ferguson
It is difficult to fathom what is agitating the mind of Rooney to talk of leaving United. I believe Ferguson would be embarrassed by his action. If it were in my part of the world, the gossip would be that Rooney is Ferguson’s protégé and they have conspired to make things tough for the new coach.
I would advise Moyes to be his own man and not be pressured by the expected comparison of his tenure to that of Ferguson. From all indications, he would get maximum support from both the players and the numerous fans worldwide, including yours truly.
What we are going to miss at Old Trafford is Sir Alex with his trade mark chewing gum My information is that the chewing gum factory has closed down following Ferguson’s exit from the touchline.
All said and done, the football world will miss Alex Ferguson. His 26 year attachment with such a top club like Manchester United will be difficult to emulate especially in this era when coaches are changed like paper napkins.
My favourite manager whom I affectionately call Alexander the Great has left wonderful memories in the Theatre of Dreams but as someone put it football does not give the luxury of dwelling on wonderful memories.
This reminds me of what my late Editor at the Daily Graphic in the 70s soft spoken I.K.Nkrumah used to say, “In journalism you are judged by your daily performance”.
And with this quote, I take the opportunity to inform my readers that I am back from my observe without leave.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.
This is a recent interview I had with Jerry Afriyie, Editor of Kotoko
Express regarding my book, Complete History of the National League
Jerry: I have just completed reading your fascinating book, The
Complete History of the National League 1958-2012.Quite a
comprehensive stuff. What was your motivation in coming out with such
a historic book?
Ken: Thank you Jerry. I have spent my entire working life in sports
journalism and I thought this would be my contribution to the
development of the most patronized game in the country. It is my wish
that it would help my colleagues, especially the younger generation to
write and talk more factually about the history of Ghana football and
also help fans to settle many petty arguments about the performance of
their pet clubs.
Jerry: Fifty four years of the history of the national league. This
would definitely mean a lot of research. When did you start working on
this huge project?
Ken: The whole idea started in 1982 when I took a journalism course at
Thomson Foundation in the UK. I was extremely excited to find in the
UK the way records on sports were kept and sports journalists wrote
and talked with amazing facts dating back to even the 19th century. I
thought we could do the same in Ghana and we could start with football
especially the national league which was the ultimate national
pastime. In fact, the SWAG had in 1976 started what was planned to be
an annual magazine on football but even though we had a whole
editorial board headed by Emmanuel Amoako only the maiden edition saw
light. I was then vice president of SWAG and I got the impression not
many of the members were keen on the project. As an active member of
the board I felt bad that the project died at birth and perhaps that
also motivated me to make amends. I decided to make record keeping
part of myself like breathing and now I have realized my ambition.
My wardrobe is full of diaries with a record of league results and
other major sports events since 1982. In 1995 I published a brief
history of the league from 1958 up to that period. My plan was to come
out with a Golden jubilee edition in 2008 to mark 50 years of the
league, but circumstances did not permit me, lack of sponsorship not
excluded. And also it looked like interest in the league was waning and I had
to bid my time till interest began to soar again especially in the
past two seasons So I decided to work around the clock to make it
happen this time.
Jerry: Where do you go from here?
Ken: I must confess I am completely exhausted. I plan to come out
with “The Untold Stories about Ghana Football” but I must first make
sure this first publication is well patronized.
Jerry: What do you mean by that?
Ken: I want the book to be well analysed and acknowledged by sports
journalists and fans alike. Of course it tells the whole story of the
league but we need to have a critical analysis, generation by
generation, that would let us know whether Ghana football is going or
coming. May be you can set the ball rolling.
Jerry: I will try and I trust you will give me some backing. I am sure
many sports fans both old and young have heard your name .Who is Ken
Ken: Osei Kofi calls me veteran sportswriter and I call him veteran
footballer. I entered sports journalism in Oct 1961 on the Daily
Graphic sports desk. This was on the recommendation of my two seniors
Yaw Boakye Ofori Atta, Conrad Boafo Akuffo (both of blessed memory)
and my classmate Eugene Thompson at Abuakwa State College who were
already in the media. In fact, Thompson was already on the sports desk.
I got to know later on that experienced sportswriters like Sam Boohene
and Wallace Johnson had resigned creating a huge vacuum and the
Graphic wanted young potentials to be trained on the job.
I met the sports editor Nana Addo- Twum who after a brief interview
gave me pen and paper to write a review of the just ended National
Founders Day Games. I might have done a good job because I saw the
story published in full the next day with a huge by line - Review by
E.K.Bediako. I was so happy I bought five copies of the paper to show
to my friends. Three days later I had my appointment letter. I counted
myself extremely lucky and really worked hard. Management paid special
attention to the sports desk because of their belief that “sports is a
We were privileged to be under the tutelage of respected veterans
like Isaac Eshun, Addo Twum, Francis Awuku, I.K.Nkrumah, Daniel Badu,
and Kodzo Dumoga of blessed memory. Our stories were marked like exam
papers and we had a lot of in-service training classes at times with
lecturers from Legon at our disposal. I gradually matured to also
become a respected sports journalist and appointed Sports Editor in
1972. In my 21 years at the sports desk of the Daily Graphic, I had
the privilege to travel worldwide to cover numerous international
sports events in addition to the hectic domestic programmes.
I was in Ibadan 1963 for the Ghana-Nigeria annual athletics
championships; Sudan 1970 for the Cup of Nations where the Black Stars
were deported after the tournament, I was with Accra Hearts of Oak on
their crowded tour of UK in 1970; in Munich for the 1972 Olympics, Los
Angeles 1975 where D.K.Poison became first Ghanaian world boxing
champion, Montreal for the 1976 Olympic Games; Hearts v Hafia Cup
final in Conakry 1977; Hearts v Union Douala cup final in Cameroun
1979; Libya 1982, the last time Ghana won the Africa Cup. You know
for 31 years no Ghanaian sports journalist has had the pleasure to
report on the Black Stars Africa Cup triumph. I hope you will be
lucky to write about the Black Stars success in South Africa AFCON 13.
Jerry: I am curious. What caused the Black Stars deportation in Sudan 1970?
Ken: There was an unfortunate mix- up at the presentation ceremony of
the Cup. Sudan beat Ghana 1-0 in the final and you know protocol
demands the presentation of silver medals first to the losers. In this
instance Sudan was given the cup first and the Black Stars were left
stranded on the pitch as the Sudanese players jubilated with the crowd
invading the pitch. An obviously irritated Coach Ben Kwofie then asked
the team to leave the pitch. By the time the organizers realized
their mistake, the Black Stars were nowhere to be found. Incidentally,
the Sudanese Military Head of State General Nimeiry,fresh from a coup
d’etat was still at the stadium . We were later told that he felt
slighted by Ghana and in typical military fashion, quickly gave orders
for the Ghana team to leave his country by the next available plane.
We were awoken from sleep by the team leader Mr A.E Sampson of the
Sports Council, and bussed to the Airport where we were lucky to catch
an Ethiopian Airline flight after about five hours in the cold at the
You may be interested to know that Mr A.E.Sampson, the veteran sports
administrator dating back to the Ohene Djan era, was the grandfather
of Fiifi Banson that great football enthusiast of Peace FM fame.
Jerry: Interesting. It looks like sports is part of your life.
Ken: You are right. As my good friend Ebo Quansah wrote in the
foreword to my book, I don’t only research to chronicle events, I write
about sports as a vibrant participant observer. When I left the
Graphic during the turbulent days of Rawlings so called 31st Dec
revolution, I founded the Kotoko Weekly with the assistance of Yaw
Bawuah’s administration. I was privileged to have inside knowledge
about club administration. Coach Ibrahim Sunday also gave me free
access to the players even to the dressing room and I can say with
some amount of authority that I have a fair knowledge about players’
psychology. They are very sensitive to media reports. The amount of
intelligence and quick thinking they display on the pitch can however
hardly be replicated off the pitch and they can be easily manipulated
My membership of the Ghana Olympic Committee took me to the 1988
Seoul Olympics in Korea as Press Attaché and in 1992 I was at the
Barcelona Olympics as member of the Black Stars Management Committee
headed by late President Prof Atta Mills who was then commissioner of
Income Tax. With the good rapport I had with coaches Sam Arday and
Isaac Paha, Ghana won Africa’s first Olympic bronze in football.
Jerry: I see you have tasted a bit of football administration. What
do you make of the football scene these days and the role of the
Ken: Let me restrict myself to the league and say that organization is
superb except that patronage is extremely low. Perhaps the organizers
will take into consideration the state of the economy and drastically
reduce gate fees to attract the crowd. The empty stands we show to the
world are not good enough.
The coverage for football is quite extensive almost to the point of
being superfluous at times. My candid opinion is that it could be
better if sports presenters and writers will be “generous in praise
and slow to criticize” as my old headmaster, the venerable C. J.
Bannerman taught us at Abuakwa State College.
Jerry: Thanks for this unexpectedly long interview.
Ken: You are most welcome. I am at your service
The packed Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi last Sunday actually witnessed an oracle fulfilled as Kumasi Asante Kotoko wiped the sad memories of the Black Stars lethargic show in AFCON 13 with a splendid 7-0 victory over Sony Eguema of Equitorial Guinea in the Africa Clubs Cup preliminaries.
This massive victory has shifted football discussions from the Black Stars to Asante Kotoko and the question now is whether Kotoko can maintain this fast pace.
Both Coach Didi Dramani and the players consider this win a real morale booster that has put them in the right frame of mind for the resumption of the national league this weekend; and they don’t intend to lower standards.
Fact is Kotoko really found it heavy going in terms of goal scoring in the first round of the league netting only 17 goals in 15 matches and conceding 10.
This is the reason why their supporters are excited about the amazing goal harvest recorded against Nguema and they wish it replicated in the league that resumes on Sunday with a home match against Liberty Professionals.
Coach Dramani had promised fans a new look Kotoko and the fact that the seven goals were scored by seven different players in different positions has given the coach a lot of credibility.
How I wish national coach Kwasi Appiah could attract such credibility from the fastidious Ghanaian football fans.
A post mortem press conference by the Ghana Football Association showed that the FA was prepared to give Kwasi who appears to enjoy public sympathy more time to make amends.
Even though a section of the media seem to be unduly harsh on the young coach, the mood of the grassroot support seems to suggest that Kwasi should be extended the same courtesies given to the numerous foreign coaches who messed up but were given time to make amends.
Kotoko’s Africa Cup success and the resumption of the league have come in timely to give Kwasi Appiah the time for reflection. It is hoped he would reflect in his sober moments on some of the decisions he took in the selection of players for AFCOM 13 and come out with a more trenchant squad for the World Cup preliminaries.
He played football to a high level and even captained the national team. He knows the nuances of the game and its millions of coaches in the stands.
Head or tail a coach will always be the fall guy in times of defeat. He must Ask Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson. I appreciate his vision of building a team for the future.
I believe the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is one of his major plans. He must stick to it and show football fans that he can walk the talk. I can’t help echoing the saying that football is a crazy sport.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports
With the highly disappointing show by the Black Stars of Ghana in the just ended AFCON 13 that has shocked the football crazy citizens everybody is looking up to champion club Kumasi Asante Kotoko to revive the flagging spirits of football fans with a good show against Sony Nguema of Equatorial Guinea at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi this Sunday, Feb 17.
Sunday’s match had been completely eclipsed by AFCOM 13 but suddenly football fans have had to shift attention to this club international that has the potential of erasing from memory the sad memories of the Black Stars poor show.
Honestly, the overall performance of the Black Stars at the championships did not surprise me much. I was not expecting them to win the Cup and this was confirmed by coach Kwasi Appiah who continued to hammer home after every unimpressive game in the competition that he had a team of the future.
I had that feeling that best would be a scrappy and lucky berth to the final but they would lack the required fighting spirit to win the ultimate.
My keen observation was that after that brilliant start against DR Congo where they threw away a comfortable 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 they failed to click as a compact team in the subsequent matches even though they managed to sail through in the end.
The 1-0 victory over Mali in the second group match was through sheer luck and Niger did not give enough opposition to make the 3-0 victory anything to write home about.
Perhaps the 2-0 defeat of Cape Verde must have given the Black Stars the satisfaction that even though they might not be all that brilliant on the pitch they were winning all right and that is the name of the game.
To my mind the real test came against the well-built Burkina Faso chaps who drilled the Black Stars from pillar to post and despite several soft decisions in favour of Ghana by the Tunisian referee who behaved as if he had applied for a Ghanaian citizenship, the Burkinabes carried the day.
Never mind the victory was through the penalty lottery after a 1-1 draw. Burkina Faso had the courage to face the “firing squad” whilst some of Ghana’s well known professionals chickened out. What a pity.
Obviously crest fallen the Black Stars’ match for third place against Mali was a disgraceful one sided affair and Mali might have been wondering whether it was the same side they had faced a few days ago.
Well as they say the die is cast and the arm chair critics have a field day but any attempt to change the technical bench on the eve of the World Cup qualifying series would not be a wise decision.
My suggestion is that the selection of players could be widened to bring in those equally good players who for any reasons did not make it AFCOM 13. This is the time for cool heads as the nation looks up to Asante Kotoko to bring back the smiles on the faces of gloomy football fans.
Ghanaian football fans don’t know much about Sony Eguema and this makes it tricky for Kotoko who would be advised to take lessons from AFCOM 13 and rise to the occasion.
Football in Africa is growing fast and you underrate any team at your own risk. I hope Kotoko Coach Didi Dramani is listening.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.