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Kwesi Appiah: Five key moments in first stint

Kwesi Appiah was sacked as Black Stars coach two years before but is back to reclaim his position and possibly redeem himself after a first stint many described as underwhelming.

The Ghana Football Association announced Appiah on Tuesday afternoon as Grant successor. The body claims his contract will begin from the 1st of May and he has been tasked to build a new team capable of making Ghana a dominant force again after a dismal performance at AFCON 2017 in Gabon.

Appiah’s first tenure as Black Stars coach was largely characterized by player controversy, issues with money at the 2014 World Cup, after leading the team there against all odds and general disciplinary mishaps. All of these were blots that befouled a somewhat good time where Ghana played some sweet football. Here’s a recap of the games that made Kwesi Appiah and the games that brought him so close to ineptitude that left many scratching their heads for him.

Feb 6, 2013- Ghana vs Burkina Faso (4-3 penalties)

Disappointment was written on the faces of most Black Stars players

In a game that was almost marred by controversial refereeing calls in Ghana’s favour, Appiah’s men still could not capitalize. It was a game that was to set up a tasty AFCON final against arch rivals Nigeria. Ghana first went ahead through a controversial Wakaso penalty before Aristide Bance equalized late on in the second half. The Burkinabe were denied spot kick after spot kick before their main man Jonathan Pitriopa was harshly sent off. It was a game that begged for just one thing – a Ghana goal to win the game. From the touchlines, there was little Appiah could do as he wrung in the changes quite well bringing on Clottey for Wakaso in the dying embers of the game. It all couldn’t materialize. Ghana’s 5 game syndrome at AFCON continued.

September 6, 2013- Ghana vs Zambia (2-1)

The Black Stars beat Zambia 2-1 in the final group qualifier in Kumasi

It was a group stage World Cup qualifying game. Ghana had a task of having to revenge the painful semi final loss to the Chipolopolo in the semi final of AFCON 2012. This one though was tougher. Ghana were on 12 points, Zambia were on 11, whoever won this one makes the final qualification against Egypt and the Black Stars after having lost in Ndola needed this one more than ever. The Black Stars delivered. Throwing in Majeed Waris was Appiah’s masterstroke- he scored in the 18th minute to lift Ghana and the fun fair continued. Kwadwo Asamoah scored in the 61st minute to put the game to bed. Zambia’s Nathan Sinkala scored in the 74th minute to urge a late Zambia charge but it was all futile. Appiah’s vast knowledge of the African game as a player and assistant coach had paid off now that he was at the helm.

October 15,2013- Ghana vs Egypt (6-1)

Ghana will play Egypt again in a final 2018 World Cup qualifier

As World Cup qualifiers go, this was the best. What a game this was. . It was the beginning of a double header that will see the victor progress to the World Cup.

Before it all began, everyone including some Ghanaians could not stop waxing lyrical the Pharoahs. Many claimed Ghana had no chance. But Appiah, who got his silent assassin tag possibly after this game, had other ideas. It took Appiah and his men just 5 minutes to make a statement- Asamoah Gyan latching onto brilliant long pass before slotting home cooly. Wael Gomaa’s own goal doubled the lead before Mohamed Aboutrika’s penalty four minutes before the interval gave the Pharaohs hope. Yet that hope was extinguished almost immediately as Majeed Waris made it 3-1 at half-time, while a second for Gyan, a Sulley Muntari penalty and a wonderful late Christian Atsu strike wrapped up the scoring in the second period. If anyone had doubts about Kwesi Appiah’s quality then, this obviously put them to bed. Ghana 6-1 Egypt the scoreboard at the blustery Baba Yara Stadium that night. Never mind that we lost 2-1 in Cairo. We still qualified for the World Cup.

June 17, 2014- Ghana vs USA (1-2)

Kwarasey (L) and Muntari (R) featured in that world cup opener

In the scheme of things, this is one of the games that went terribly wrong for Kwesi Appiah and to a large extent opened him up for ridicule. The widespread derision of the man and his tactics was unfair because Ghana played a fairly brilliant game. After Dempsey’s early goal, it was all Ghana till André equalised. Then the tables turned again. The infamous post match line “I was waiting for the Americans to get tired before throwing him on” was the last nail in the coffin- whether true  or untrue really doesn’t matter so much now. Ghana had already beaten the USA on two previous occasions and the game was seen as another the Black Stars had to win given its importance. The Black Stars faltered. The empire Appiah might have built in Ghanaian minds came crushing down.

June 22, 2014 Ghana vs Germany (2-2)

Ayew was one of the scorers in Ghana’s 2-2 draw with Germany at Brazil 2014

We were only a Jordan Ayew pass away from winning this one. That’s how close Kwesi Appiah was. So close, yet so far. Joachim Loew looked surprised after the game about the way we played. Germany’s game against Ghana was the only one they didn’t win enroute to winning the World Cup- beating Argentina in the final and breaking Brazilian hearts along the way. In my opinion, it was all down to Appiah masterclass. The organisation of the team albeit in a trying time (issues with money) was on point. It is one of Ghana’s best games at the World Cup. A game we will all remember.

By Yaw Ofosu Larbi

The writer is a sports journalists with TV3, 3FM & 3news.com

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