The second unveiling ceremony for Milovan Rajevac ticked all the right boxes – the boxes that pander to the mind of the Ghanaian football fan.
The president of the FA in his usual chorus of calling for support for the Black Stars, a reel of videos from the 2010 incredible World Cup run and Rajevac himself with a dint of faux-jingoism as he draped himself with the national flag while claiming that Ghana is his second home.
It all plays out nicely – at least for just the FA themselves. The Ghanaian football fan though, has grown past many of these histrionics.
Milo’s return has sparked an unusual rumpus. You would think for all the success he chalked in his first stint, there would be an overwhelming welcome for the man. But no, that has not been the case.
His record after leaving the Ghana job makes for grim reading hence the uproar. He bounced around in the Middle East and North Africa before he moved to the Far East to take up Thailand but left the job after 21 months after achieving very little with them.
For Ghana, he seems like the right choice well according to the Football Association. “We chose Milo because he has been the best for Ghana till now. He took us to the apex of World Football. Everybody respects Milo and it was an easy decision for us” The FA president Kurt Okraku said.
It must have been an easy decision alright. Milo has undoubtedly been the man who gave the Black Stars their best run in international football.
In his first stint, he was here for 818 days and oversaw 28 games. In those 28 games he won 12 times, lost 11 times and oversaw 5 draws. Three of those 11 losses coming in two finals and one quarter final that would’ve taken Africa to unchartered waters in football’s biggest tournament – the World Cup.
“I am happy to be here. I remember 13 years ago I promised to take Ghana to the World Cup and I did.”
“The biggest success in my career and Ghana was to qualify for the quarterfinal of the World Cup and if not for Suarez I’m sure we would have been champions,” Rajevac said in his opening address.
There is no doubt that nostalgia fueled this appointment. In many ways, a quick fix so it is just right that they turned to the man who has quite an experience in making us dream.
“It is a quick fix. We need to pick ourselves up and get back in the running to qualify for the mundial so we needed someone who understands the culture. That is why we are here.” Executive committee member, Samuel Anim Addo mentioned moments after the unveiling ceremony was done.
The Football Association offered him a one year contract. A trial marriage – an engagement. A contract worth $30,000 a month – a marked improvement on Akonnor’s remuneration.
The added incentive though is that, if he wins the AFCON, he will earn $300,000 as well as an additional $300,000 if Ghana qualifies for the World Cup. On the face of it, that is good money but in one of the most insecure jobs on the African continent you never know what to expect. Ghana has spent in excess of $4m on salaries for coaches since 2011 in the search for an AFCON trophy but the trophy still eludes us. The question now is when?
Milo’s second coming will not be the first Ghana has had. There has been five others before him. The legendary C.K Gyamfi whom we don’t talk much about as a country left the job in 1965 after winning the AFCON and returned in 1982 to win that last of Ghana’s four AFCON trophies.
Fred Osam Duodu in modern day would pass for Ghana’s Guus Hiddink. He was the reliable man every time we need a stop-gap. He won the AFCON in 1978 left the job in ’81, returned in ’88, left in ’89, occupied the position for a bit in 1993 and returned again in 2001.
Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie left the job in ’84 and returned to it in ’02, Burkhard Ziese left in ’92 and returned in 2003 and Kwesi Appiah who was a long-time assistant before getting the big role and returning 2017 after the sacking of Avram Grant. With all of this in mind, Ghana is a country in love with rekindling splints – however long it has been.
Milovan has a huge task now. Bigger than what he had before when he took over from Claude Le Roy in August 2008. The Black Stars need to qualify for the next World Cup particularly after missing out on the previous one.
The players at his disposal are not the same but he has a good base of youth to choose from. Kudus Mohammed and Kamaldeen Sulemana have been livewires for their respective clubs, Kamal Sowah was a revelation when Club Brugge took on PSG in the champions league, Emmanuel Gyasi at Spezia is a good option. With these guys and the blend of the old footballers you just have an inkling that Milo can fashion a team that can mirror that of 2010.
The team that strolled their way to the AFCON final. It’ll be a big ask on the man but he says he can deliver.
“AFCON is in four months but the most important game is in two weeks and we need to take it one after the other. Our focus now is to qualify to the FIFA World Cup” Milo intimated after he was asked about winning the tournament in Cameroon.
However it goes, one thing is clear and it is that the Black Stars will have to throw in the kitchen sink if they are to qualify for the World Cup and win AFCON. Not just them, but all of us.
By: Yaw Ofosu Larbi|3Sports|Ghana