Focus on your goals, not your fear. Focus like a laser beam on your goals. ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Managing the senior national football team (Black Stars), is perhaps, one of the most hard-to-please undertakings one can ever imagine.
It is certainly not a job for the weakling. You have got to develop a thick skin (apologies to ex-Ghana FA boss Nana Sam Brew-Butler) to be able to survive the inexorable pressure that comes with the job.
Last week, head coach of the Black Stars, Charles Kwabla Akonnor held a news conference to announce a squad for a couple of friendlies where he virtually ‘badgered’ on the media to tone down on the attacks or stave off criticizing the team negatively.
“I’m pleading with you to stop the negativity. The negativity around this team is too much,” Akonnor lamented.
During my playing days, we used to receive a lot of encouragement from the fans and journalists. These days, things have changed. We need the support, so please tone down on the negativity.”
Indeed, the Stars have over the last few years come under an avalanche of criticism as regards their performance – Ghanaian fans not really enthused by the team’s failure to annex any trophy in close to four decades.
Much as one sympathises with the Stars’ coach, advice to him is to remain focused and rather keep his eyes on the ball. He must keep his eyes peeled and invite players who are in fine fettle and ready to serve the country.
As for criticisms, they would come in droves. They will come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be positive and negative; others downright ruthless. You cannot stop them. Even when you appeal to the sensibilities of the fans, some would still be at your neck – all-too ready to tear you apart at the slightest faux pas.
The good thing is that when the team starts churning out the desired results, the praises and laudations would flow in torrents. That is how football is; that is the nature and spirit of the game.
Akonnor should be guided by the above-mentionedpersuasion, work his socks off, pluck the results and he would surely get the fans behind him.
Last time the Stars clinched the Nations Cup Holy Grail was in 1982 – some 39 years ago when most of today’s youth were either not born or were too young to know what was happening.
It is the reason some of the youth easily get nettled even when the name of the Stars is mentioned. This is no joke. It is something serious we must not joke with. For many of them, they think the Stars have been over-pampered over the years with nothing to show in continental glory. That for them is a huge bother.
So, Akonnor must bear in mind that the criticism will continue to flow – some in horrifying taste; and he better psyche himself for the challenges ahead. What he desperately needs now is focus, focus and focus!
A philosopher once said, to conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles. Over to you, C.K Akonnor!
PlainTalk with JOHN VIGAH