The marriage between Charles Kobla Akonnor and the Black Stars was something many had dreamt of its success and clamoured for it but as there is always the opposite of everything, he had his doubters.
Assuming the role in the Black Stars dugout after his former boss, James Kwesi Appiah was axed following a dismal performance in the 2019 Africa Cup of nations where Akonnor was the assistant. Appiah’s contract was made to run down and three days after his contract expired, the technical teams of all the national teams were dissolved, meaning Appiah was booted out per the book he signed to take up the role.
Akonnor assumed the role of head coach of the national team on January 15, 2021, amidst mixed reactions from both sides of the media and fans alike. Many were hopeful of the future of the national team with the former Asante Kotoko gaffer a the helm.
Sadly it has turned out differently with him not being able to lead the Black Stars out at the tournament which paved way for his ascension to the role. He did manage to lead the Black Stars successful qualification to the tournament in Cameroon, completing a journey started by Kwesi Appiah, but he would now have to watch from afar and perhaps on the screen for whoever will take over after him.
His reign in charge of the Stars has provided less than impressive results in the 10 games he managed. He oversaw four wins and the same number of defeats with two draws within the near two-year reign over the Black Stars. A humiliating introduction was given to him against Mali when he led the side out in his first game in charge in a friendly in October. He did make amends three days later albeit against a much weaker side, Qatar whom the Stars beat 5-1.
But that 3-0 defeat to Mali had already given all who doubted him some reason to be more aggressive in their opposition to his assumption to the role. The victory over Qatar only bought him some space in the minds of his doubters to consider offering him their trust and hope that he proves them wrong.
Akonnor’s real tough test came in the Afcon qualifiers doubleheader against Sudan. The former Black Stars captain led his side to a 2-0 victory in Ghana but let in a goal and failed to respond in the return leg, thus delaying the team’s qualification to the tournament. He then managed a 1-1 draw away in Johannesburg to South Africa putting the Bafana Bafana’s hope of qualifying on the line.
The qualifiers concluded with a 3-1 comprehensive victory over the whipping boys in the group, Sao Tome and Principe. That ensured the Black Stars were outright group winners in the qualification, South Africa missing out thanks to Akonnor’s role and their own doing against Sudan.
In two of his last four matches in charge of the Black Stars, Akonnor’s side lost to Morroco by a lone goal before playing goalless against Ivory Coast – both in international friendlies.
Bafana Bafana Revenge
If his side’s performance against the Bafana Bafana six months ago contributed to their absence in the African football festival in Cameroon next year, the Bafana Bafana also got the opportunity to tussle Ghana out of the 2022 global event in Qatar, an act which has now ultimately cost him his job.
Having being paired in a group which many bookmakers tipped to be a two-horse race, the Black Stars stuttered to a dim start at home in the World Cup qualifier with an unconvincing performance that the victory was sheer luck than deserved. Mubarak Wakaso ambitious shot was let into the net by the Ethiopian goalkeeper in front of about 2,000 fans cheering at the Cape Coast stadium.
Their real match was always going to be against South Africa and though Akonnor lost seven of the players who played the Ethiopia match to Covid-19 restrictions, the game exposed the lack of identity and will in the team. For the first time in a long while, the Black Stars wandered in the field with no aim and target. They were outrun and outplayed by their opponents in every department and the 83rd minute winner was more than deserving.
That final act was the last from Akonnor who has in his under two years period as the head coach invited at least 70 players into the national team, several of them never touched a ball and never got a recall after their first invitations by the coach.
The voice of the people is the voice of God. But the voice of the fans is the voice of the nation and the GFA have acted fast to appease the near-breaking Ghanaian fans with the heavy call to let Akonnor go. The coach will depart along with his two assistants, Patrick Greveraars and David Duncan.
A look at Akonnor’s numbers since his assumption to the role in January 2020. Coronavirus affected the start of his career with the national side after football activities were kept on hold pushing the biennial continental football tournament, Afcon to 2022.
That meant that he was denied the opportunity to lead the team to the tournament and also had to wait till November 2020 to resume the qualifiers which were completed three months into the new year, 2021. His first outing with the team as the boss, however, preceded those assignments with an international friendly against Mali being his first. Here are the numbers in his 20-month reign.
Matches played: 10
Goals scored: 12
Goals conceded: 8
It is worth noting that Akonnor’s Black Stars scored only one goal in their last four matches and conceded two. With all the statistics above, there is no debate as to if the call is warranted, the verdict is one and a clear one at that.
So we are asking, did the call come too early or late?