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Odegbami: Football, More Than Just a Game – Lesson From Ghana!

Odegbami: Football, More Than Just a Game – Lesson From Ghana!

I have always known that football is more than just the game played on the field. It is an incredibly powerful weapon that can be deployed effectively to drive a cause, tackle a societal problem, impact lives, win an election, halt a war, resolve crisis, make a political statement, and even change the world.

Once again, it is the ‘changing of the world’ aspect that continues to intrigue and interest me, as I understand the world better. To do any of these things requires a good understanding of how the world works, and how football’s power can be deployed.

Ghana, Nigeria’s West African neighbour and keen rival in sports, have just changed the coaching crew of all their 9 national teams including their global flagship team and product, the Black Stars. By so doing they have made a simple but deep statement to the rest of the world reflecting who they are and where they belong in the ongoing global war of civilisations, between the superpowers.

Ghana may be a small country on the planet, but it has a very rich political history, deeply rooted in the African culture. From its first President at Independence in 1959, it started to lead Africa in driving a vision that would make Africa and Black persons a force to be reckoned with in the world, with his vision of a united Africa, a continental cultural, social and economic integration, a massive unprecedented infrastructural development across the African continent, and the establishment of a global Black and African movement to fight in the war of civilisations.

Clearly, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was way ahead of his time. Very few other African leaders understood him and saw what he saw about ‘tomorrow’. He is probably the most visionary leader in the history of African politics.

Also Read – Odegbami: The Next Coach of the Super Eagles!

Since after Dr. Nkrumah, Ghana has gone through several other leaders with varying degrees of the vision and success at making country the centre-piece and model of African development. Despite all the turbulent political upheavals the country has gone through, seeping through all of their experiences is a country and a people that are very civil, very educated, very culturally sound, very sophisticated, very proud of their heritage, very civilized in their conduct and very aware of their rightful place in the world.

At this time in their history, they have a leader in Dr. Nana Addo who encapsulates the spirit of Kwame Nkrumah. He has embarked on a remarkable journey that clearly shows a man of history.

How do these things connect with the simple step of changing a coaching crew of their country’s national football teams?

In Ghana, football is a very important product. The people take it seriously. Everyone is involved in it.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was crazy about football. He was the Black Stars’ greatest fan.

I met Dr. John Kuffour, President in the early 2000s in the State house in Accra. ‘Mr. Mathematical’ he called me as soon as we met. He knew football intimately and a former Chairman of one of Ghana’s the biggest clubs – Accra Heart of Oaks.

I saw a sitting Vice-President of the country at a football match between the academicals of Nigeria and Ghana some years ago at the Accra Township Stadium. He came to watch with a lone friend, arriving the stadium unannounced and without any convoy of cars.

The current President, Dr. Addo, I am told, is a supporter of one of Ghana’s top teams, Ashanti Kotoko. Every Ghanaian supports a local football team. The passion for football in Ghana is as much as that.

Nigerians love football, but I must confess, that Ghanaians support the game more, love their local clubs more, and do much more for the game and for players than Nigeria has ever done.

Ghanaians actually believe they know the game more and would never concede that Nigeria has a better football culture and that the Super Eagles are ever a better team than the Black Stars. Ghanaians believe their style of football is more advanced than Nigeria’s. That’s why the rivalry between both countries in football is one of the keenest on the African continent.

The statistics of the head-to-head between both countries at senior national team level, however, speak volumes. Ghana are way ahead of Nigeria, 25 to 13 victories (or so), since 1950 when they first met.

So, what has the change in the coaching crew of the national teams of Ghana got to do with the prize of fish in the markets of Oshodi?

Well, let’s examine the ‘statement’ that Ghana made in their choice of new coaches for the national teams. Their choice is connected to their vision of a new world order.

The current President of Ghana, Dr. Nana Akufo Addo is a champion of the cause of the Black race and of Africans in the world, in the footsteps of late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. I listened to his speech to the Congressional Black Caucus in the United States of America when he became president, how he marketed Ghana to the African-American people as the ‘home’ they should return to and partner with in the building of a new Black civilization on earth.


I watched on television when traditional chiefs in Ghana addressed a gathering of Black and African-American tourists in Ghana, apologizing for the role played by their forefathers in capturing, selling and shipping their healthiest Black brothers and sisters into slavery to the land of no return.

I watched as Ghana offered Blacks and African-Americans land to come and resettle, incentives to come and invest, and free passage to and from Ghana, and place they can now truly call their home.

Ghana is way ahead of every other Black and African country in attempting to fight the war of civilisations by restoring the dignity of the Black race and earning global respect.

Were Ghana to be in Nigeria’s shoes, have Nigeria’s population, human capital and resources, this battle would have been won a long time ago. Ghanaians see it clearly, Nigerians, unfortunately, don’t.

That’s why Ghana’s choice of local Ghanaian coaches to lead their national teams is significant and makes a bold statement.

The racism ‘war’ is escalating in Europe, on the football fields, mostly against Black footballers. It has refused to go away. Attempts to eradicate the cancer from football have been half-hearted and have largely failed. Blacks are not given any opportunities to do anything beyond play the game because they are considered not intelligent enough to manage a ‘complex’ game like football! Bull…t.

Also Read: NFF Now Keen On Retaining Rohr; to Begin New Contract Negotiation

Then enters the International Olympic Committee, IOC, this week with its own rules aimed at silencing protesting athletes at future Olympic Games. Who are the protestors at the games? Go check history. They are mostly Black athletes protesting inequality, racism, discrimination, and other moral scourges. Blacks are to be silenced again!

Blacks and Africans must fightback and earn their rights to be equal partners in the present lopsided world.

That’s why Ghana’s decision to sink or swim with their Black indigenous coaches makes absolute sense. Even when they weight the contributions of the foreign coaches they have engaged, 23 of them compared to 8 locals in their 51-year history, the most successful coach in Ghana’s history is a local, CK Gyamfi, who won three African Cup of Nations for Ghana!

Since 2012, Ghana has kept faith with local coaches starting with James Kwesi Appiah. His results have been mixed, but his replacement is another Ghanaian, another ex-international, and former Captain of the Black Stars, Charles Akunnor. He and 8 other local coaches take over all the various national teams in the country, and the people are prepared will sink or swim with them for cause higher than just playing football.

I hope other African countries will take a cue from Ghana, for football is much more than the game played on the football field.

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  • Tancosports 12 months ago

    This is a very good write up, very incisive and educating but the only fear I’m having with Nigerian coaches is their corrupt nature in team selection. late Stephen Keshi in his blessed memory took 23 players to the 2014 WC in Brazil but apart from the first 11 we had then we didn’t have the bench because of some questionable team selection and some player didn’t have business in that WC, let’s say for instance Uche nwofor, the young man played in Bevereen FC in Belgian league prior to that world cup and he never kicked a ball throughout the season of 2013/2014 for the Club yet he made the squad to the WC. I’m a Pan African and I support New Black Civilization but A Nigerian coach to handle the affairs of SE is something I’m not too comfortable with unless the coach has a very sincerity of purpose. God Bless Africa.

  • His resolve to uproot Rohr, replace him with a local stooge, and set off a downward spiral in our football development is really firm. Unfortunately, he is becoming desperate, citing absurd examples to back up his arguments. I don’t know why he can’t simply drop this agenda as it is not strictly within his sphere of influence.

    The NFF and the increasingly vociferous and enlightened SuperEagles’ fans have the trump card.

    The question still remains: Do you have the powers to breathe down our necks regarding the choice of a coach for the SuperEagles? Is Nigeria Ghana? Must we follow an absolute blueprint established by Ghana? If you’re not selective in your analysis, with an ulterior motive to hoodwink and confuse the unwary, why were you selective in your analysis of the “success” story of Ghana? Why didn’t you mention anything about GHANA-MUST-GO?

  • Mr Hush 12 months ago

    I can’t deny,I have always been an admirer of Segun Odegbami, he served us well in the national team(his record speaks for himself).He is passionate about his country and the sport.But unfortunately, my respect ends there.
    I know he has the right to his editorial but he is literally writing for ‘self service’. He writes to try to push a narrative that suits his case rather than being objective. He is too lost to emotions and fact don’t care about emotions.
    In this piece ,he had to kiss the behind of Ghana ,bend the narrative, just to prove a point; a point he has always being advocating for; Africans running Africa
    vis a vis, Nigerians running the Super Eagles.
    There is no problem with that,my only problem is the route the mathematical one had to take to lay out such ,from his write up(and past write ups),he comes out as a racist rather than a visionary and patriot. He is lost to the “Orange man bad” syndrome that is presently engulfing the social space right now,and the sad thing is,he doesn’t know it.
    This write up is filled with loopholes that I don’t know where to start to block them.
    For one,even if Ghana deserve some applause for putting forward some political and social visions in respect to Africa, we shouldn’t be carried away by the fact that Ghana is still riddled with loads of problems facing most of the black man world. GHANA is no Eldorado.
    Yes.Nkrumah was a visionary leader but how did he leave office? This is a man that got so much induced by power,he wanted to be president for life and was basically kicked out.
    John Kuffour you mentioned,yes a sports lover,but vividly remembered in Ghana as a corrupt President, one which caused him his re -election. He singlehandedly almost killed Heart of oaks Fc by his lackadaisical behaviour towards the great club.
    Nana Ado is right now been maligned by a section of the Ghanaian populace by his lack of economical vision in all sense of it,and dragging Ghana through a borrowing spree with nothing much to show for it leading to high debts. Yes. A year of return for the Black race brought some much needed funds to the economy, but is it really sustainable? How many of this Returning blacks have really stayed back,in the sense, returned?
    Ghana’s Black stars have won titles with a black coach but you forget to mention the last time they did that! When was the last time Ghana as a national team won anything?
    In the 70s! When most of Africa weren’t really developed and into the game.
    The last recent good outing for a Ghanaian national team side was when they were coached by White men; a Serb and an Israeli in different outings at the world cup and Afcon. How many chances have Ghana given Kwesi Appiah and how many times has he failed?
    Why do you think the whole national team coaches and staff were cleared out recently? They simply failed and they were corrupt too.
    Now you sit back and talk about the IOC banning protest in the Olympics because of racism?! Please that’s alarming falsehood coming from a great like yourself.
    The reason the IOC is banning political protest in the Olympics is simply due to the political tug of war going on in the world right now,between the conservatives(right) and liberal(left) ideology. They don’t want their platform to be used as place to spread such PC culture eating deep in the world right now. You must have heard about the Social justice warriors,Antifa,Hollywood big guns,Cancel culture ,Trump derangement syndrome, Iran brouhaha, clijate change saga,Hong Kong protest et al. The point is,the IOC is doing this not because they are racist and against black protest, they are doing this to avoid any protest from any side! The Sporting arena is for Sports only,there are better platforms to lay out protest.
    Finally,since Ghana has chosen to sink and swim with indigenous coaches,even those that are unqualified, how far have they gone in the sporting sense?! What have they achieved? Since 2012,have they been on the ascendancy or in the reverse? Are they in anyway better, presently,than Nigeria that have stuck to foreign coaches and such?

    Objectively answer these questions and enlighten your mind ..

    • Tancosports 12 months ago

      Mr hush sir, thanks for bringing light into this critical issue, May God Continue to enrich you in wisdom.

  • Lol, Mr. Odegbami:

    – Ghana last won Afcon in 1982, a whole 38 friggin’ years ago!

    – Ghana had majority of their wins between the 1950’s & 70’s when participants were mostly Egypt, Sudan, Ghana and maybe Nigeria ONLY! (just 4 or 5 countries).

    – Where does Ghana rank in Africa & FIFA today? Certainly way below Nigeria.

    – When last did Ghana beat Nigeria? Who even bats an eyelid or skips a heartbeat when Super Eagles are playing the Black Stars nowadays? Even SA, Togo etc don’t.

    – Was Ghana at the last World Cup, Russia 2018?

    – Has Ghana won Olympic gold in football?

    – Who is the king of FIFA U17 World Cup? Is it Ghana or Nigeria? Heck, we even won it consecutively in 2013 & 2015.

    – So Ghana’s FA no longer goes for the best coaching candidates/applicant, except they’re Ghanaian? If that is not racism in itself, what is?

    I agree we should begin to integrate our best, young coaching talents into the SE set up, but this Mr.Odegbami’s argument is roundabout and cheeky.

    Sadly, we all saw the route Keshi began to take after winning Afcon in 2013. Then Oliaeh came with all his drama. All that while, Ghana was frolicking with their white coaches. Mr.Odegbami, we’ve tried this before as recently as 2016. So if you succeeded in your ambition to be NFF president, this would have been your BIG AGENDA??

    Let the NFF pick some young and promising ex-internationals as Rohr’s assistants and age-grade team coaches – and do away with Amapakabo, Aigbogun, Agu & Agu. Bring in people like Amuneke, Carl Ikeme, Amokachi, maybe even your Yobo as long term plans and Rohr’s assistants.

    Unfortunately, like Keshi post-2013, Pinnick and his board are starting to fumble and misbehave too after all the good work.

    Respect to Ghana’s records and achievement in sports and politics, but just as in population and physical size, we are better than them. Nigeria is bigger everywhere.

    • Mr Hush 12 months ago


      Factfully stated and nicely put.

      Mr Odegbami talks like the problem of Africa is the white man. He talks like no Nigerian has ever coached the national team..like the failures of Aigbogun,Garba,Imama are centuries ago!
      We are all saw happened to the Falcons when Dennerby was let go and an indigenous coach took over;total collapse and failure to qualify for the Olympics. Again!!

      We all see how Nigerians ,Africans at large, given the opportunity manage a system..They simply falter. Even if they start on a bright note,Africans are simply emotionally mentally downtrodden and corrupted to maintain any positivity achieved. Point in case Keshi. We all were witness to his digress from success.

      To think Mr Odegbami could be so petty to go with the Ghanaian example is laughable. I stand to be corrected,yes,Nigeria has her flaws, but Ghana in all sporting sense (not just football),is not up to Nigeria’s standard. Simply not in the turn of 2 decades. And I say that with all due respect. Ghana football is stuck in a time conundrum. Even the much malign Nigerian football clubs had fared better in international events. Apart from football, what other sports is Ghana synonymous with? Even boxing they used to do well in,they are in limbo.
      But I digress, I stated the above not out of disrespect to Ghanaians but only to state the obvious. Once we align with the truth and facts,it can only help us grow.
      Segun Odegbami is living a fool’s paradise to think things would just happen because of the colour of your skin.
      Your colour of your skin doesn’t matter.
      We should be looking at credentials, passion,will ,diligence in consistency and good work ethics.
      Besides,you don’t force feed a grown man. Why do we have to force our ex internationals on ourselves just because they are ex internationals. These ex internationals haven’t even put their neck in the ring yet.
      If they do want the job, why can’t they do like normal people do and work for it!
      Success in life Is not given ,it is worked for and taken.

      • Thanks Mr Hush for pointing out/questioning Ghana’s achievement at the club level too. When last did Hearts of Oak or Ashanti Kotoko win the CAF Champions League. They even hardly qualify for the group stages.

        There are still a handful of Ghanaian footballers playing professionally in the K-legged NPFL. But which Nigerian plays in the Ghana league?

        Going internationally, besides Thomas Partey and maybe Jordan Ayew, which Ghanaian players are currently well known/regarded in European leagues in the same way like our current breed of youngsters?

        Ghana’s aggressive, muscling football style with just 20% flair under their local coaches like Gyamfi and Appiah may have worked wonders in the early 80’s , but that style is outdated now. That’s why Ghana hardly goes past the group stages at Afcon now and countries like Benin and Togo have a 60% chance of winning when playing Ghana.

  • Hello, is Mumini Alao still at Completesports? Is it that this man has so dominated and intimidated the editorial board of the organization that his articles are not critically reviewed for facts, completeness , logic and balance before been published? The paper is fast losing its hard earn credibility and authority that people like Mumini Alao worked their socks off to build over the years..Can’t the  board simply see that in Odegami search for relevance and push through his selfish agenda, he is debranding the Completesports brand.Can’t you people see that his ideas belong to the 80s?.

    I will leave the political and social comparison out as this is a football platform, I will also ignore his much advertised “progress” that Ghana has made with him forgetting that the last time Ghana won a major trophy was in 1982!.

    Bar the SE, all the other national teams were managed by the local guys these past two years and what has been the outcome? catastrophic .even the falcon whose birthright it was to win tickets to major competition failed to do so against Côte d ivoire.! Those that managed to qualify through the play offs or as 4th best team show up at the tournament with a lackadaisical and disjointed display that even the blind will see that the team selection was not done in good faith. They showed up with imposed average and obscure players to boost their commercial value.

    The main reason for all this campaign is because Rohr simply refused to dance to their ill tunes. The man is hungry for success and trophies while our NFF people are after their own individual pockets.That is why they are bullying him and gagging him from talking to the press.In this age and time?.

    My sincere advise to ‘ the mathematical’ is that there is nothing mathematical about his writing anymore and he should seek relevance somewhere else.Behind his failed academy at wasami Orile, there is a huge hectares of bare land. He should go and farm.Perhaps he will be more productive there.

  • Chima E Samuels 12 months ago

    Kwesi Appiah as rightly said by Hon Segun of a late didn’t give Ghana the desired result expected after the 2nd place they achieved under A. Grant former Chelsea interim Israeli coach who acts like Rohr going by his standard of performing well in major tournament but yet not Achieving the ultimate due to tactical deficits. 

    Switching to CK who recently guided Kotoko to caf champions league group stage the season before after decades of trying makes me feel they appreciate his tactical awareness because watching a CK led team will tell you how much Ghanaians value high attacking football. I bet this changes will shake the whole of Africa.

    But then coming down to Rohr I think he should be afforded more chance and freedom because as a coach he can only improve even though I would advice him to pick players with winning mentality like the Spain and Germans do.

    • Oakfield 12 months ago

      Then who are the players with a “winning mentality” that are not in his pool of players??? Pls, tell us, we’d like to know

    • Omo9ja 12 months ago

      @Chima E Samuels, how are you doing my friend? Happy weekend.

      However, I’m not really concerned about Mr. Odegbami comment but the improvement of coach Rohr is at stake.

      The coach is trying no doubt but what has he learned in Rusia?

      How about In Egypt?

      If Nff can get him new assistant good but otherwise no. God bless Nigeria!!!

  • Well…all the comments i’ve read since were against his write up and 80-90% comments from those in the recent past are always aginst him.
    …then why on earth will someone choose to be against the world?
    From the last write up, he said “Segun has come again” which means he enjoys being a bad guy. Well….for now, Rohr is signing a new contract and all players are in support of it…that’s the good news for me so far.
    A hero in the 80s gradually becoming villain at old age….keep it up sire!

  • Dr. Drey 12 months ago

    Seriously, Ghana has now become Uncle Segun’s reference point…?

    I even thought he would roll out a list of success stories in the last decade or two or since the turn of the millennium, of Ghana swimming with their own rather than sinking only to be referred to the era when AFCON was a 4 nations tournament almost 4 decades ago and over (the 60s and 70s)…??? It’s like trying to carry out a research in 2020 and relying entirely on literature of 1970s…I can tell you for free you will be grossly misled.

    Chief’s arguements would even have been more interesting if players like Sam Kuffor, Stephen Appiah, Richard Kingston, Asamoah Gyan were the ones coaching the black stars in the last 4-5 years in line with his ‘Yobo as next eagles coach for 2022 WC’ proposition. Lolz

    But with due respect biggest achievements since the turn of the nineties….in this era of modern day football, this era of 16 & 24 team afcons, this era of massive evolution of the african game from exposure to the European value offerings, has been completely under European coaches…Otto Pfister (1992), Mariano Barreto (2004), Stepanovic (2006), Milo Rajevac (2010), Avram Grant (2015). Ghana has had nothing to write home about with local coaches. They sink to miserably laughable depths each time the go local (same way we sank to no 71 in the world and missed 3 out of 4 afcons in the space of 8 years).

    So where comes the validity of the arguement of emulating a template which has proven to be sink, sink, sink all the way..?

    When last did Ghana feature at the U17, U20, Olympics or even win anything at senior level that we now have to see their failures as our own model for development….?

    Does Mr Mathematical think time waits for anyone…? Since Ghana won their last AFCON title Cameroon has won 5, Egypt has won 5, Nigeria, CIV & Algeria twice each, even Zambia has won once same as Tunisia. Oh…we should continue sinking while the rest of the world are making progress right…?

    Ah….Ghana ke…? Orisirisi.

    Obsession sure really makes a man turn logic on its head. That’s all I can say.

    • That’s why they say “Age and Common sense are two different thing”
      It’s an Adage not an Abuse.
      …I believe he sat down , thought/reason well before putting these for all to see.
      Well for me, I learnt lesson from the article sa…but Rohr stays.

  • My hapines is that; we have youths that are very inteligent and thinks (reasons) faster than the pple that are stil depending on their past glory……

    But my worries is with those that says ODEGBAMI loves SE……
    u dont claim to love something when u are looking for ur own self interest…… If Odegbami truely loves nigerian football; he wouldn’t be looking for a way of taking us back to the old path of watching our dear SE Matched wit fear……

    Since ROHR took up this office, there’s:

    1) competion among players in the team wich is a very good weapon coaches use in building and developing players…..

    2) there is descipline in the team…… No more bigmansm compare as b4…..

    3) our boys are always hungary to play and win….. Everybody are serious….. Not as b4 where our big boys use to jogg in the pitch……

    4) for the past 3years i have been listening to hear a particular player having issues wit the coach….. Our boys understands the man and the man also understands them….. (That is player management that was lacking in our football system)……

    5) we dont struggle againdst “minos” again…… The only option is to beat them….. Compare to b4 where ANGOLA will stop us from going to 2006 WC; E.QUINEA will stop us from 2012 afcon; S.AFRICA & CONGO will take 1st and 2nd position only for SE to finish 3rd and missed the 2015 afcon; EGYPT & TANZANIA proved superior to us hence we missed 2017 afcon……
    Has ODEGBAMI forgotten all these miseries and woes that befell us in the hands our ex….. Pls tell him and his gang that those injuries are still fresh in our minds……

    Our eyes have open so no point of going back for now……. Tell ur fellow ex to wait till after the 2022 WC……

    ROHR inherited a team ranked 71 in the world…… There was even great fears that our boys may not be given work permit to play football in england should SE slip further to 75 or below in fifa ranking……. Now today we are rank 31 and still making progresss…….

    Y not support this man and allow him do his job in peace……

  • Oakfield 12 months ago

    Evil will never overide good. Never!!!! They have sent u again and you have opened ur dirty mouth to spew garbage as u normally do. For your information, u are rapidly losing relevance and respect in the scheme of things, your hatred for Rohr bcs of your selfish interests has made u not to realize this. The Ghana you’re using as a yardstick is way below the super Eagles at the moment so what the f…..k is your problem????? Wasn’t our team managed by home-based coaches ( eguavon, keshi, amodu, siesta with little or now good results with attendant allegations of bribery and corruption) before we decided to go for a foreigner after so much clamour bcos of the dire state of our football? You have forgotten so easily abi? Rohr has come to stay so Continue with your folly anu offia!

    •  It’s a shame that Odegbami whom I used to respect so much in my high school, days is now wearing the toga of a villain, obstinately plugging his ears against the collective views of reason. There is a saying that a good name is better than money. He has made his choice, pawning his name for … ash, really. Despite wise counsel from various quarters, he is going steady on the path of ignominy. It must be stupid pride that is propelling him on.

      How can a reasonable Nigerian be a racist? I’m almost certain that there are Nigerians in Antarctica selling ice to the Eskimos, and smiling to the frozen banks. 

  • CompleteSports please stop posting Odegbami write ups! His is hatred for super eagles recent successes has become too evident

  • Omesiete 12 months ago

    @ kel ….Respect to Ghana’s records and achievement in sports and politics, but just as in population and physical size, we are better than them. Nigeria is bigger everywhere.

    Greater respect to you man, God bless you

  • Which ghana? I think something is wrong with this man he has been nagative in all his write up . his family should take him to abroad to wash his brain.

  • Everytime I read Odegbami’s reports, I could only feel it’s all about personal vendetta drive towards Nigeria footballer, maybe,because, no one in the top hierarchy of d NFF seem to have given him some recognition. That fear of becoming very irrelevant in d scheme of things, is driving him nuts. But sad to say he has chosen the wrong path loads of football fans will come to view as that of a psychopath. Using Ghana as a template for nigeria, begs for deep thinking n worry for Baba Segun.