By: Sammie Frimpong
He may not have been as hugely popular and as well-remembered by posterity as his illustrious predecessor, but Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar lays claim to an achievement neither his uncle Julius nor all of the other Caesars can boast of. It’s a feat immortalized in the famous words: “I found Rome brick; I left it marble.”
It’s a statement newly re-appointed Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah would wish to echo in the future when his latest stint at the helm of the Black Stars ends. But for a truly terrible experience at the 2014 Fifa World Cup that really was no fault of his, Appiah — the only Ghanaian to have steered the senior national team to an appearance at the Mundial — would have had that luxury when his first tenure ended barely three years ago. Since then, during the stint of one-time Chelsea boss Avram Grant, Ghana have been bowed by two failed Nations Cup campaigns — the first heart-breaking, the second simply annoying — while, between those disappointments, the bid to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup is already two games-dead, with very little life remaining in it.
The squad Grant bequeathed to his successor/predecessor is practically same as the one he inherited, many believe, but — in the opinion of this writer — the Israeli actually left Ghana even weaker than he found it. Quite a few established members of the setup have no right retaining their entrenched positions anymore, and others may need some competition to provide that huge kick up the backside to get them playing like worthy Black Stars again. In sum, Ghana needs rebuilding, and though Appiah may not have to do it all from scratch, he certainly has much work on his hands.
He starts on May 1, aided by a backroom staff that could likely be as good as new in composition. In truth, the task handed him might appear rather daunting: reaching Russia 2018 would surely be herculean, even improbable at this point, and 2019 — given how much work has to be done on a Ghanaian team that’s about entering a transition phase — is perhaps a bit too soon for the country to think of ending its long wait for a fifth Nations Cup crown.
But the real objective of Appiah’s appointment — never mind that the Ghana Football Association probably didn’t include that in the memo, at least not in so many words — is to build a solid squad that could last Ghanaians a lifetime and bring their wildest dreams to fruition, and that’s hardly impossible.
If Appiah could achieve that with a Ghana side which — at a lowly eighth in the African rankings of national sides — is a bit more brittle than bricks at the moment, he could well boast as Augustus did.