Five things we learned from the Black Satellites at the 2013 AYC takes a look at the five things we have learned from coach Sellas Tetteh and the Black Satellites’ campaign at the just ended Africa Youth Championship in Algeria
By Abagna Jose Nelson

The 19th edition of the African Youth Championship came to an end on Saturday with Ghana’s Black Satellites picking the silver medal after losing 5-4 on penalties to Egypt in the final game which ended 1-1 in regulation time. Ghana’s Abagna Jose Nelson takes us through five things we have learned from coach Sellas Tetteh and the Black Satellites’ campaign.

The Liberty Professionals technical director went into this championship with a huge task of working with a team he only joined after they had qualified for the tournament in Algeria. The task from the onset looked like one Tetteh could struggle to replicate what he did in 2009 when he led the Black Satellites to win both the African and the World U20 Championship in Rwanda and Egypt respectively. Missing the ultimate on penalty lotteries simply means he was not far from achieving yet another feat as the first Ghanaian coach to win the African U20 tournament on two different occasions. But as the old adage says, “nearly does not kill a bird.” Tetteh still deserves praises for the team exploits. He had his tactics right, especially in the semi-final game against Mali, where the team was tactically discipline on the field to earn them the ticket to the final. He seems to be an expert in youth football and probably needs to get back to the senior national team, Black Stars as soon as possible, where he has been an assistant coach from 2004-2008.

The harbour-based side contributed five players - Moses Odjer, Francis Narh, Joseph Larweh Attamah, Derrick Mensah and Jeremiah Arkorful - for the national U20 team at the recently concluded African Youth Championship in Algeria. All five players put up impressive performances to justify their inclusion in the team, especially with forward Narh winning the Fair Play Player of the tournament and also Mensah getting a place in the tournament’s best eleven. The Ghana Premier League side also has two players in the national U17 team currently in Italy preparing for this month`s African Junior Championship in Morocco. This is a side that is relatively young in the Ghana top flight league, providing five players for a national side. It would not be bad to tag them as the beacon of young player development in the country and the applauds go to Winfred Osei Pama for putting up one of Ghana’s best-structured youth development system to unearth budding talents for the nation.

Assifuah came into the limelight with second- tier side Sekondi Eleven Wise last season, where he netted eight times for the “Western show boys.” He was their livewire throughout the national Division One league campaign. Premier League outfit Liberty Professional spotted the gem in him and quickly signed him on to their team. He has since not looked back, putting up some brilliant performances in his maiden Premier League season, with seven goals so far notably among them is his quadruple against 2011-12 Caf Champions League quarter-finalists Berekum Chelsea in a league match. The 19-year-old forward raked in three goals with two Man-of-the-Match awards in Algeria. Another strong exploits at the Fifa World Cup in Turkey later this year and he will be on his way to stardom and could possibly force the handlers of the Black Stars to consider him for the national team.  The Liberty Professionals striker was arguably Ghana’s best player of the tournament and has already attracted interest from some European sides notably among them is Italia Serie A side Udinese.

As much as 97% of the players assembled by Tetteh at the 2013 African U20 Championship in Algeria are plying their trade in the local league. With the team getting to the final only to lose to Egypt in the penalty lotteries, one can assertively say that this team has done the local league proud. Comparing this side to that of the “all conquering 2009 Black Satellites team” that had close to seven foreign-based players in the African tournament and almost 10 players from the foreign leagues for the World Cup and more quality players, one can say this current Satellites team even with less number of the foreign-based ones has lived up to expectation earning great review for the domestic top flight. Much of such performances from our players in the local league could possibly rewrite the story about Ghana’s premier league bereft of quality players.

Judging from what transpired in Algeria, the Black Satellites with Tetteh as coach can lay their hands on the coveted trophy come June when the 2013 Fifa World Youth Championship starts in Turkey. Even though I mentioned in point four that this current Satellites side has made the local league a great deal, I must also add that, playing in the World Cup will be a different ball game, hence the need to beef up the team with top quality players. I am in no doubt that Tetteh can mastermind another world youth trophy for mother Ghana and the continent. However, he needs to inject some more experienced and quality players, even if it means taking into consideration some of our foreign-based players such as Richmond Boakye Yiadom and Yussif Raman Chibsah both of Sassuolo in the Italian seria B, Baba Abdul Rahman of German Bundersliga side Greuther Furth and Nasiru Mohammed of Sweden top flight side BK Hacken among others. Couple with good pre-camping preparation and good tactical game plan from coach Tetteh, Ghana Black Satellites can win their second Fifa World U20 Cup in Turkey later in June.