Lack of leadership & the reasons why Goran Stevanovic was fired as Ghana coach

Ghana became the latest country from the continent to fire their trainer following the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, where the Black Stars fell at the semi-final stage
By Kent Mensah

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will probably go down in history as one of the tournaments that saw many of the national team coaches sacked for failing to perform to expectation.

The firing of the men on the touchline became rampant as the 2012 Afcon was considered a competition where the big guns that qualified for the finals had an advantage due to the absences of giants such as Egypt, Cameroon, and Nigeria.

The latest country to join the group of coaching dismissals is Ghana. Their Serbian trainer Goran 'Plavi' Stevanovic has been given his marching orders after the Black Stars could only place fourth at the 28th edition of the continental showpiece. looks at the key factors that led to Stevanovic's exit.

There was no way the Serbian could have retained his job because it was generally believed that the majority of the executive committee members of the Ghana FA were not in favour of his retention.

Ahead of his dismissal, a member of the Black Stars management committee and an influential figure in the ruling NDC of Ghana, Yaw Boateng-Gyan, had this to say: "He will be fired, so for me he should consider himself sacked. He’s too stubborn.”

Ghanaians felt insulted when a report prepared by the coach on the tournament and leaked to the media stated that the players resorted to black power in camp to outdo each other.

The issue gained a great deal of currency in the international football media and such embarrassing comments – although meant to remain confidential in the shelves of the Ghana Football Association – put the country in a rather bad light.

This angered Ghanaians and officials further, hence the sack to salvage an awkward and embarrassing situation.

Plavi’s first verbal contract with Ghana at his maiden press briefing, when he was unveiled, was that he is the Messiah who will deliver them from their 30-year trophy drought.

An over-ambitious Stevanovic, who has never been to a major African competition, told a group of aggressive and unforgiving football journalists that he would bring the title home by the time the final whistle at Gabon and Equatorial Guinea blew, or else he would resign. Since he never came close to winning the trophy, journalists applied pressure on him to live by his word.

One of the weaknesses of the 45-year-old coach was his lack of leadership qualities and failure to unite the squad. Pundits have argued that the team looked even more porous and divided in his last days in charge of the Black Stars.

Cases of bickering among junior and senior players became rife at the 2012 Nations Cup and Stevanovic’s inability to defuse the rancour before returning to Ghana dented his chances of holding on to the post. He cited in his report that morale was down in the camp, but as a leader, it behoved on him to use his managerial skill to lift the spirits, but instead he left it to the management committee to handle the issue.

The Serbian disregarded the domestic league of Ghana and did not invest time to monitor the local talents who were potential national team products.

It took a great deal of effort from aficionados of the top flight of Ghanaian football to mount pressure on the national team handlers to give a few local faces a chance in the Black Stars set up. It was a major blow when the top scorer of the local league Emmanuel Baffour was dropped from the squad ahead of the 2012 Afcon and foreign players, who were unfit and warming benches, were given priority.

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