James Kwesi Appiah born on 30th June 1960 becomes the 43rd coach of the Black Stars and his appointment has been met with mix feelings by some football fans. The former Kumasi Asante Kotoko captain in 2012 took over from Serbian Goran Stevanovic and subsequently finished 4th in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. The highlight of Kwesi Appiah’s previous reign was a hundred percent qualifying record prior to the 2014 World cup in Brazil, with his team famously beating the Pharaohs of Egypt 6-1 at the Baba Yara Stadium.
All was rosy for the man who was tagged as a master tactician after becoming the first Ghanaian and African Coach to qualify Ghana's Black Stars to a world cup. He was always touted as the ideal man until Ghana had a poor showing in Brazil, drawing one game and losing two. There were several reports of Kwesi Appiah not having complete control over the team with some senior players like Kelvin Prince Boateng engaging in an oral war with him which led to the sacking of the Las Palmas midfielder from the team's camp in Rio. His personality and ability to control his players was questioned by most Ghanaians and several pundits of the game began to doubt his qualities as a tough coach.
After the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Kwesi Appiah was offered a new two year contract but resigned in September 2014 by mutual consent. He was later appointed head coach of Sudanese club Al Khartoum in December 2014. He led the team in the CAF Confederation Cup qualifiers but could not reach the money zone. Appiah showed tremendous improvement in the North African country and was named Coach of the Year last year.
On Tuesday 4th April 2017, Kwesi Appiah again received good news from the Ghana Football Association. The Ghana Football Association, which is the body mandated to develop football in Ghana, gave the 56-year-old Appiah a two year contract to manage the Senior National football team. He is also to handle the Local Black Stars. Coach Appiah handled the national Under 23 male football team and led them to win a historic 2011 All Africa Games gold medal. The following year, he was appointed substantive coach of the Black Stars and led Ghana to the semi-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Appiah made history by becoming the first Ghanaian coach to qualify the Black Stars to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Kwesi Appiah’s appointment comes at a point when the Black Stars are almost out of the World Cup qualifying race and the team is in near disarray. It is the hope of many that Ghanaians will offer their unflinching support to Kwesi Appiah in order to help him succeed. The players and technical assistants who will be working with Coach Appiah should put the national interest first in all their activities. The fact that Kwesi's exploit in the Sudan has been appreciated where he was named Coach of the Year last year indicates that when given the opportunity he can do more for his mother land.
Let us celebrate our own and offer constructive criticism that will help Kwesi Appiah to manage the Black Stars to capture their lost glory.
By Theophilus Sampa, a Sports Journalist.