Avram Grant opinion that Ghanaians see beyond our chronic pessimism and focus on the good couldn’t have been more precise

By: Sammie Frimpong

“If this nation will concentrate on the football and not the bull***t — and just the football because there is a lot of passion — we can reach a higher, higher level. It is a long term target, but it’s achievable.”

That was Ghana head coach Avram Grant on Thursday, responding to critics who have bugged him in recent weeks over issues that the former Chelsea boss quite clearly doesn’t feel is pertinent to what he was hired to produce: success. Saif Rubie, Grant’s notoriously outspoken agent, would echo that stance in a similarly caustic tone on Twitter within hours.

It seemed a reckless statement alright, but one that contained much more sense than the hurt emotions triggered would allow the collective Ghanaian consciousness to absorb. This wasn’t an outburst from a man unrestrained in speech; Grant, if you know him, wouldn’t let his feelings out so strongly unless he really has to. This, instead, was a mere hint that, after all the abuse — merited or otherwise — he has received since taking up the Ghana job, he’s actually beginning not to care anymore and doesn’t really mind not having his two-year deal extended after it expires in 2017.

Avram Grant's words and deeds have not been taken too kindly by a section of the Ghanaian media

Many have described Grant’s comments as rude, insulting even, but I’d call it mild. . . and utterly brilliant.

On point, I say!

You see, the Black Stars are not as bad as we’ve contrived to convince ourselves that they are. From the depressing depths the team sunk to at the 2014 Fifa World Cup and the period of slow, painful recuperation which ensued in the Mundial’s aftermath, Grant has lifted Ghana to a pedestal where, on its day, confidence, swagger and ruthlessness characterize the play. And it’s not just the surprise run to the 2015 Nations Cup’s final that the Stars have to show for it. Those silver medals aside, there also is that remarkable stat that only one side, West African neighbours Senegal, has beaten Ghana during Grant’s tenure — and even that just once competitively, some 14 months ago.

The Black Stars have made short work of their group opponents so far and are on course for Afcon 2017

The quest for qualification to Russia 2018, though still gathering pace, is very much on course, while Afcon 2017 — the jackpot Grant is mandated to nail — remains within touching distance, with a ticket almost secured. Ghana are on a table-topping ten points in Group H, matched by — of the group leaders who’ve played as many games as the Stars have at this advanced stage of the qualifying series — only Mali and Algeria, and surpassed by just Morocco and Senegal who, with 12 points, may as well start readying themselves for the showpiece. And, for what it’s worth, none but the Desert Foxes boast a better goal difference than Ghana’s +9.

Really, that’s all — the results — that matters, isn’t it?

Everything else is, you know, no more than what Grant says it is.

Should he necessarily stay in Ghana to effectively monitor potential Black Stars material from the domestic pool?

Certainly not, for he is only head of an able technical department whose personnel are largely home-based, anyway, and know the terrain much more, thus being far better equipped to scout.

Are the Stars playing any worse than they ever have, given the ‘dull’ displays against Mozambique in the recent qualifiers?

Hardly. Beating the Mambas 3-1 at home when supposedly operating at a level a little lower than the usual should only inspire belief in what a fully-tuned unit could do, and being held in the reverse days later — the first time the team has dropped points in the race to Gabon — should be analyzed in the context of Ghana being several key players short. Then again, when ever has it been our divinely bestowed right to always win and/or play ‘braziliantly’ everytime?

And should Grant gulp down crap from Ghanaians, especially the media, simply because we believe we’re always right?

Hell no!

Hate Rubie all you like, but he isn’t too wide of the mark when he asks Ghana’s journalists to ‘take it as well as [they] dish it out’. Too often, head coaches of the senior national team have been easy prey for the crushing jaws and damaging claws of the press and soccer fandom: they are welcomed with fanfare (albeit almost always tinged with a good dose of pessimism), only to be chewed whole and spat out (things don’t exactly have to go south for the latter to happen, as Grant and many of his predecessors quickly learnt) before long. Then comes the grand break-up which, from the latest
indications, Grant is all too ready for — hopefully, though, not before he grants us the parting gift our ingratitude barely deserves.

Surely, going forward, there’s little more logical to do than focus on one ‘B.S’ and ignore the other (if you know what I mean) as the Israeli recommends. And don’t ask me which ‘B.S’ means what.



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