By Robson Sharuko
Former Ghana coach, Kwesi Appiah, says black African national team coaches are given raw deals, including non-payment of salaries, while the red carpet is rolled to their white counterparts.
The Black Stars are in the same 2022 World Cup qualifying group, with the Warriors, which also features South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and Ethiopia.
The Warriors are the only team, in Group G of the qualifiers for a place in Qatar in 2022, who are under the guidance of a foreign coach after ZIFA settled for nomadic Croatian gaffer, Zdravko Logarusic, in January this year.
Loga replaced Sunday Chidzambwa, who left his post, after the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
The Black Stars are now under the guidance of their former skipper, Charles “CK’’ Akonnor, who replaced Appiah in January.
South African coach, Molefi Ntseki, is in charge of Bafana Bafana while Ethiopian gaffer, Abraham Mebratu, took charge of his country’s national team two years ago.
The Warriors have never qualified for the World Cup finals and, on the four occasions they have made it to the AFCON finals, they have been led by local coaches — Chidzambwa (twice), Charles Mhlauri and Callisto Pasuwa.
Some of these coaches have claimed, in the past, they are still owed substantial amounts of money.
The 59-year-old Appiah says he is owed US$200 000, including five-month unpaid salary, by the Ghanaian FA and this wouldn’t have been the case had he been a white coach.
“I was owed money since August 2019 when there was no Covid-19,” Appiah told BBC Sport Africa. “Would they owe a white coach for 11 months?
“(My predecessor) Avram Grant was not owed more than a month when his contract ended. It’s not right and should not be encouraged — irrespective of whether (the coach is) local or foreign.
“I gave the GFA a three-month deadline (earlier this year), but neither the GFA nor the Sports ministry have met with me.’’
Appiah, who led the Black Stars at the 2014 World Cup finals, is believed to have been on a salary of US$35 000 a month and would earn a further US$10 000 bonus for every game the Black Stars won.
This means the former Black Stars gaffer was earning about five times what Loga, who is on US$7 000 a month, is getting from his role as Warriors coach.
“The salary of the head coach of the Black Stars has always been paid through a sponsorship package, and it is unfortunate this has now dragged into the period of the coronavirus pandemic,” Kofi Asare, a spokesperson for the Ghanaian Ministry of Youth and Sports, told BBC Sport Africa.
“We have paid him for the two-year contract period of 24 months. What is left is the extended contract period of eight months, of which we have already paid three months.”
“We are still in touch with the former coach and in no time we will pay him. Soon, all money will be paid to Appiah.”
The coach, who also led Ghana at the 2014 World Cup, has told BBC Sport he is prepared to take his claim to football’s world governing body Fifa if he does not receive his money soon.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana coach, Ntseki, doesn’t believe the 2021 AFCON finals will be played in January, as scheduled, in Cameroon.
“There are too many challenges currently facing us when it comes to the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers,’’ Ntseki told SAFA Media.
“Both CAF and FIFA are unable to set dates as yet, and it is understandable because football is not back in action as a whole — remember some leagues were cancelled (France, Belgium, Scotland).
“When the games were stopped, we had no choice and we were not in control.
“It is still the same to this date, we have no control and we should not be worried about things we can’t control. The games were suspended in March, then the June date was called off and we can’t predict the September dates, but we have to remain hopeful.
“It is a big worry that we can’t come up with a solution for all Confederations — maybe FIFA will come out and say each Confederations must do what works for them, within the statutes of health and safety protocols.
“The reason is simple — it is winter in South Africa and we are told that the (Covid-19) numbers will spike in August or September, you might find in Sao Tome they don’t have cases anymore, and in Ghana they have less, so it is a serious challenge for CAF, and in turn, for FIFA to just open the fields and say go and play.
“I believe CAF and FIFA are monitoring the situation very closely. The other challenge is that, for instance, when Bafana Bafana has to travel to Ghana, it will involve a lot of things — where to camp as a group, protocols and safety measures in place, travel from the base to the airport.
“Then airport protocols, flight protocols, foreign land airport protocols, hotel protocols away, match protocols, and when we return it is the same drill — and that could be too much to bear, and probably expensive.
“That is why I say it may be a while before national teams are back in action, but there is hope and we have to keep it alive.’’
He said if the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, which were postponed in March, are not played in September, the chances of the tournament being held in January next year would be bleak.
“If we can’t play the qualifiers in September, then I don’t see how will we have the tournament in January,’’ he said. “In my view, the AFCON won’t be played in January and could be moved to June — it’s original date.
“And, this will now affect Europe-based players as their clubs may refuse to release them, and then we have the debate all over again of Club vs Country.
“The greatest challenge is that the corona virus affects each country differently — which makes dealing with it all the more difficult in terms of returning to the field.’’ The Herald