In the New Testament of the Holy Book we are taught about the birth, growth, death, the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible also tells us of the coming back of Jesus Christ to pronounce judgement on mankind. By this analogy, one anticipation of such a comeback in the game of football is the return of James Kwasi Appiah who for the second time will be coming as the coach of the senior national team of Ghana, the Black Stars.
Fortunately, there is nothing strange or doubtless about his second coming as he has already been given the nod. What is awaiting the final deal is his appointment letter and any other modalities expected to be stated in the contract.
Unlike the Lord whose second coming is still a mystery to many of his followers, Appiah’s arrival from London where he is presently enjoying his holidays with his family, will be by an airline which will land at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, where he is likely to be given a rousing welcome amid brassband music from some of the supporters unions. Some have even suggested a red-carpet reception for him.
That arrival day which is likely to be this Friday, must be a lovely day, and the expectation must be great as the entire nation looks forward to the transformation at the technical department of the Black Stars. Appiah must know that there are a lot of hopeful citizens who are waiting for his magic wand to rescue the Black Stars from the unfortunate image they have created for themselves since their participation at the world cup three years ago in Brazil. In actual fact, the engagements awaiting Kwasi Appiah, including international friendlies for the Black Stars and the qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the African Nations Cup (AFCON) slated for Cameroun in 2019, call for real hard work.
The nation is wide awake with a lot of expectations, even though to the average observer, the qualification to the World Cup finals in Russia looks like an impossible task, especially when one of the toughest opposition, Egypt, are six points clear of the Black Stars who have only a point.
Uganda, the other group member is also lying second on the league log with four points. It will be a deadly fight throughout, and none of the opponents would be prepared to give up easily in this struggle for a World Cup slot. Every country is keen on qualifying but perhaps the most serious side in our group is the Pharaohs of Egypt who have demonstrated their seriousness right from the onset.
This is the same Egypt who in the last qualifiers for the Brazil 2014 tournament came face to face with the Black Stars and lost the first leg 6-1 in Kumasi. The second leg in Alexandria, Egypt ended 2-1 in favour of the Pharoahs but Black Stars qualified based on superior goal aggregate.
This World Cup test must, therefore, be their greatest task, because the last time the Egyptians qualified to participate in the World Cup finals was in 1990.
In that same campaign, it is obvious Appiah is likely to be confronted with the Cranes of Uganda. The Ugandans have never been to the World Cup in their 48-year history but in recent time the Ugandans have proved that they are poised to do the impossible, judging from the way they gathered courage to draw with the Black Stars in their first leg match in Tamale. This then makes the return match in Kampala a more difficult task.
Appiah is in a tight corner, but he is supposed to justify the reason why he was selected above all the applicants.
Considering the harm that had already been done, can we say that Appiah must be blamed if he fails to qualify the Black Stars for Russia? Of course the confidence reposed in him is great, and the hope is that he wwould not fail his admirers and Ghanaians in general who pushed for his return. All the same, it is expected that Appiah would be his own man this time by being firm and strategise well and to give a good account of himself in this final delivery for the World Cup qualifiers and his stewardship as the coach of the Black Stars.
Africa is still awaiting the five countries that would pass the test to get a crack at the next World Cup in Russia. Africa was represented by Cameroun, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire, during the last tournament and contrary to the highly anticipated high performance with the dream of reaching the avowed semi-finals, it turned out to be a disaster.
I must say that Appiah has gained a lot of experience in the handling of the Black Stars, and as at now, he has mastered all the causes of their previous failures in assembling the best for the nation and how to get the squad prepared for the battle but if he will succeed, it would require the prayers and help of all Ghanaians especially those who called for his return. The expectation is huge but with our prayers and unflinching support I hope coach Appiah would in the long run make a mark in his new journey! Good luck