Black Stars: Kwesi Appiah’s Second Coming

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The Al Khartoum manager will mutually cancel his contract in the coming days and join the national side on a two-year contract

Ghana have appointed Kwesi Appiah as Avram Grant’s successor, ending speculation that either Willy Sagnol or Hugo Broos would be taking over as Black Stars head coach.

A six-member committee have come to the conclusion that 56-year-old Appiah, who was in charge of the side between 2012 and 2014, is the right man to help the national side move on from their disappointing Nations Cup campaign in Gabon.

Appiah also became the first indigenous coach to qualify the Black Stars for the World Cup when he took them the tournament  2014, and Ghana Football Association chiefs clearly hope that he can repeat the trick and help the West African heavyweights reach Russia 2018.

With a two-year deal, Appiah’s tenure will likely include the next Afcon—in Cameroon in 2019—while the manager will also be charged with overseeing the progress of the local Black Stars.

James Kwesi Appiah

His appointment has received a lukewarm reception, and indeed, he has his work cut out to make a success of the opportunity, particularly considering the West Africans have taken just one point from their opening two matches in World Cup qualifying.

Five points adrift of group leaders Egypt, reaching Russia would surely be a greater feat than Appiah managed when he took the national side to Brazil.

Despite the mammoth task facing him, there can be some reason for optimism.

Appiah helped Ghana to the semi-final of the Afcon in 2013, while he also masterminded an outstanding play-off victory over Egypt en route to the World Cup a year later.

Al Khartoum coach Kwesi Appiah praises Gor Mahia

If he is allowed to get on with his work, Appiah can be a success, but if he has things imposed upon him by the federation—as was reportedly the case last time—then fissures may emerge.

However, there’s a sense that he still has unfinished business with the national side, and his return offers him an opportunity to instigate his 15-year plan, which he had hoped would lead to a first Afcon success since 1982.

 

“My ambition…was to build a team that the nation will depend on for the next 10-15 years and if you recollect, I was being criticised for not having a regular team because my team had new faces," Appiah told Starr FM in 2015 after leaving his post as national team boss.

“It was good to invite new faces to build competition in the team so you don’t solely depend on some players.”

Avram Grant, Wilfred Osei PS

Unlike Grant, Appiah is credited with grooming young players and giving them opportunities to shine, and more than half of the players that make up the current team were given their debuts by him.

Christian Atsu, Jeffery Schlupp, Mubarak Wakaso, Solomon Asante, Baba Abdul Rahman, Rabiu Mohammed, Razak Brimah and others were all given their opportunity by Appiah, and many new faces are expected to follow, including Augustine Okrah, who plies his trade with Sudanese giants Al Hilal.

The 23-year-old won the Ghana Premier League Best Player and Top Scorer awards in 2014, and has since been consistent in Sudan, meeting Appiah's current club Al Khartoum on several occasions and scoring more than 40 goals from the midfield over the three previous seasons.

Augustine Okrah

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Other names that Appiah could turn to include Latif Blessing and Raphael Dwamena, both of whom were frustrated by their relative inactivity under Grant.

Goal understand that former Cameroon assistant coach Ibrahim Tanko will be the first assistant coach to Appiah, with Maxwell Konadu becoming the second assistant.

Former goalkeeper Richard Kingson will replace Nasamu Yakubu as the goalkeeping coach, while ex-captain Stephen Appiah will take over from Sabahn Quaye as team manager.

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