ACCRA Ghana (Xinhua)
-- The seeming impasse between the
Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Ministry of Youth and
Sports, if unresolved, may affect the country’s chances of
sealing qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
All has not been well between the two bodies since the
disappointing last World Cup in Brazil two years ago, resulting
in the setting up of a Presidential Commission to probe Ghana’s
first round exit.
The Black Stars failed to make it past the first round after
they picked up just a point from three group games played
against the United States, Germany and Portugal.
Many thought both the FA and the sports ministry would put
the past behind them and forge ahead for the common goal of
making it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
But that has not happened, as accusations and
counter-accusations continue to fly over the local airwaves from
time to time.
For example, the ministry ordered Black Stars coach Avram
Grant to review his squad and pick domestic players for the game
against Rwanda because it would not be able to fund the plane
tickets of foreign-based players.
This compelled the deputy captain, Andre Ayew, to purchase
tickets for some of the players while others fully paid for
their plane fares to honor the match.
Again, the issue of reduced winning bonuses for the team has
been lingering for the past few months but the GFA officials
insist they are not aware of any variation in the bonuses.
But the ministry has always explained that government’ s
inability to provide for the other sporting federations are as a
result of over-spending on football activities.
Some soccer enthusiasts appear frustrated over the lack of
cordial working relations between the two institutions.
While Ghana’s opponents for the World Cup qualifiers like
Egypt and Uganda are busily fine tuning ahead of the qualifiers
next month, the Black Stars officials are yet to come out with
concrete programs for the west African country to put a seal on
Another critical bone of contention is that while some
believe the Sports Minister has the right to take certain
decisions in relation to the management of the national team,
others think this will amount to an interference which is
frowned upon by world football governing body, FIFA.
The feud between the Sports Minister and GFA President Kwesi
Nyantakyi has taken an absurd turn in the last couple of days,
with both men trading insults at each other.
Soccer enthusiasts fear the disagreements, which are mostly
about the management of FIFA and other cash that come to the GFA,
could weigh down the Black Stars’ quest to qualify for their
fourth straight World Cup appearance.
Enoch Teye Mensah, a former sports minister, called for a
very good collaboration between the two bodies to resolve the
challenges that have come to exist between them.
A Ghanaian legislator, Kwadwo Baah Agyemang, has therefore
called for a truce, saying the petty issues may have a general
effect on Ghana’s football and chances of qualifying for the
World Cup in Russia.
Presently, the Ghana premier league is without a sponsor, a
situation that has partly been blamed on the tension between the
GFA and the sports ministry.
The above issues may have to be resolved sooner or later to
ensure Ghana’s qualification to the next World Cup tournament in
Germany: Still one of the
By OLIVER TRUST BERLIN Germany
(Xinhua) -- Despite the retirement of
five key-figures in the last two years, Germany is still one of
the big guns in international football and the big favorite for
the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
German head coach Joachim Loew will have to start the
qualification campaign against Norway in Oslo this Sunday
evening without Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United) and
Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray Istanbul) but can still rely on a
squad that exudes outstanding quality.
Schweinsteiger and Podolski have retired from international
duty as have Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker
(Arsenal) and Miroslav Klose (Lazio). But Loew and the 2014
world champion are far from having to make fundamental changes.
Looking at Loew’s decision as to who will follow
Schweinsteiger and his predecessor Lahm as captain, it is proof
of Germany’s inexhaustible reservoir of talented and experienced
No less a player than probably the world’s best goalkeeper,
Manuel Neuer, will lead the German team alongside the highly
experienced players like Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Thomas
Mueller (all Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut
Oezil (Arsenal) and Sami Khedira (Juventus Turin) who are backed
up by the promising youngsters Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Max
Meyer (FC Schalke 04) and Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich).
The new German team seems to be full of confidence after the
changes in the squad but still has to prove their determination
in a rather easy qualification group with smaller football
nations like Northern Ireland, Czech, Azerbaijan, San Marino and
The new leader Neuer expressed the his team’s intention to
successfully defend the 2014 World Cup title by demanding "full
speed ahead" for the upcoming qualification campaign for Russia.
"We have to and we want to be more dominant in qualifying
than we were for Euro 2016 in France," said Neuer when demanding
four victories in the four games up until the end 2016.
After the Germans encountered greater problems than they had
bargained for after the 2014 World Cup, Loew seems determined to
open a new chapter in German football history.
The 56-year-old expressed his intention to defend his World
Cup title - a feat only achieved twice in World Cup history. In
1938 Italy successfully defended the title they won in 1934 and
Brazil won two successive titles in 1958 and 1962.
"It’s our intention to defend the World Cup title has never
been done before by a German team," Loew said.
"We have a clear plan for the route to Russia.
"Of course we want to qualify with a good performance.
"In 2017 we want to use the Confederations Cup as a stage for
our younger players.
"We’ll give some of the experienced ones a break to
"Three tournaments in a row are too much looking at the many
games some players have with their clubs," continued Loew.
By expressing his concern regarding the country’s club
football, Loew is trying to ease the rising tension between the
German association and the major clubs like Bayern Munich and
Oliver Bierhoff, general manager of the national team, has
replied to the attacks made by Bayern Munich’s chairman
Karlheinz Rummenigge and Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim
Watzke who accused the German association of using their players
to gain attention and money.
Rummenigge and Watzke both said that the many international
games would prove to be a disadvantage for the bigger clubs.
"We pay the players a huge amount of money and we see they
are burdened with many games in the national team and can’t
recover properly," Rummenigge said.
On top Rummenigge and Watzke threatened to cut the number of
players that will be released by the clubs for the national
"Our biggest rival in sponsoring is not Borussia Dortmund but
the German national team," Rummenigge said.
"During the France tournament our players had to do many
sponsoring activities with Mercedes whilst our sponsor partner
Audi played no role. There has to be changes in the future."
Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said the club has
the power to stop such situations and may well use it.
"We have to reduce the enormous amount of sponsoring
activities by the national team," Watzke said.
Both Rummenigge and Watzke were counter attacked by national
team manager Oliver Bierhoff, who said:
"The popularity of the players is growing with every game in
the national team. Players become famous all over the world by
playing for their national team and not through overseas tours
for their clubs in the pre season."
While the arguments are ongoing, German head coach Joachim
Loew is trying to find the best possible squad for the start of
his World Cup campaign.
As striker Mario Gomez (VfL Wolfsburg) and defender Jerome
Boateng (Bayern Munich) are both out injured as are Ilkay
Guedogan (Manchester City) and Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund),
the head coach might start with Manuel Neuer in goal and a
four-man defense (Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Benedikt
Hoewedes (FC Schalke 04) and Cologne’s Jonas Hector. Sami
Khedira and Toni Kroos are expected to form the midfield
partnership with Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg), Mesut Oezil,
Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze up front.
Schweinsteiger’s tear an
indication of Germany’s future
By Oliver Trust BERLIN Germany
(Xinhua) -- Germany’s 2-0 win over
Finland was nothing football fans would call a festival. But
nevertheless it was a memorable game.
The country’s past met its future as a player like midfielder
Bastian Schweinsteiger bid farewell in his 121 international
appearance while 20-year-old defender Niklas Suele made his
debut alongside several other youngsters that will from now on
secure their nation’s football future.
Football fans witnessed emotional moments as Schweinsteiger
could not hold back his tears before kick-off in his last game
in a German shirt.
The crowd gave the midfielder a standing ovation and
applauded him whenever he touched the ball.
Before the game, Schweinsteiger talked in an emotional press
conference about his 13-year career in the German national team
that culminated in winning the 2014 World Cup final against
Argentina by 1-0.
It perhaps fitted the script that 20-year-old Max Meyer of
Schalke 04 put Germany 1-0 up by the time Schweinsteiger was
substituted in the 67th minute by 20-year-old midfielder Julian
Weigl from Borussia Dortmund.
Meyer and Weigl are two of the German youngsters that will be
a vital part of the German team in the future.
Mesut Oezil of Arsenal scored the second German goal.
Loew has to be aware that he will have to change not only his
team’s game style but his squad too.
Two years after the World Cup 2014, the 56-year-old rewarded
his world champion players with the guarantee that they would be
a part of the German squad or even the starting eleven.
But Euro 2016 has shown the 2014 World Cup title is history
and titles in football are history as soon as they have been
Loew will have to develop the courage to invest more trust in
Leroy Sane who recently joined Manchester City from Schalke
for almost 50 million euro did not play a big role during the
tournament in France.
Now Loew seems to have heeded the warning signs indicating
the need for an update.
The tournament in France made two things obvious.
The Germans were too strict in following the keep-ball and
total game control dogma.
It was coupled with the problems changing gear after losing
or gaining the ball. Loew named them by saying, "we have to be
quicker, when we gain the ball", meaning the German game will
have to be more vertical and direct instead of control
Added to the problem was another which Loew called, "the
missing effectiveness in the last third of the pitch." He meant
a lack of inventiveness to create enough chances in front of the
And when they did they were not effective enough in turning
the chances into goals.
Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski have read the signs and
have decided to retire from the national team.
Now it will be Loew’s job to fill the gap with new names, new
ideas and new passion.
Next to Schweinsteiger’s farewell appearance, the new German
generation Meyer, Julian Brandt, Niklas Suele were all part of
the German Olympic team that won the silver medal in Rio. Kevin
Volland stands for the new German generation Loew will have to
Jonathan Tah, Leon Goretzka, Lukas Klostermann and Jeremy
Toljan are among the many German talents emerging on the
Loew will have a tough job on the road to the 2018 World Cup
He will have to find a way to make experienced players like
Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller work well together
with the youngsters and new faces of German football.
Right after Euro 2016 and the defeat in the semifinal against
hosts France, it took Loew some days to make up his mind if he
wanted to continue in charge for the next two years.
The 56-year-old thought about the personal motivation he will
have to invest. Loew and his advisors realized they had to make
radical changes in the squad.
A change Loew was not willing to make before the European
Championships despite many pundits demanding quicker changes.
This Sunday, Loew’s new team will face their first challenge
when facing Norway in their first qualifier on the road to
Then the German head coach will have to announce his decision
as to who will follow Bastian Schweinsteiger as captain.
According to rumors it won’t be one of his youngsters but
30-year-old keeper Manuel Neuer.
Schweinsteiger by the way left the pitch with a broad smile
on his face.
Next to the German bench, Joachim Loew was waiting giving him
a big hug, knowing at the same time that a new chapter in German
football had just started.
Schweinsteiger’s last dance for Germany
By Oliver Trust BERLIN (Xinhua) --
Germany’s friendly-game against
Finland this Wednesday evening most likely won’t be a thrilling
experience for football fans.
For 32-year-old Bastian Schweinsteiger though it will be an
unforgettable game as it will be his last for Germany.
A few days ago, the Manchester United midfielder announced
his retirement from the German national team after 120 games and
over 12 years.
After Schweinsteiger conquered football’s peak by winning the
2014 World Cup in Brazil, his career has nosedived.
The Finland game will now be his last dance on the
Schweinsteiger’s last appearance in a German shirt is
accompanied by the question whether it will be his last concert
in professional football as his future at his club doesn’t look
bright to say the least.
ManU coach Jose Mourinho announced his intention to sideline
Schweinsteiger who joined United when Louis van Gaal was in
"It’ ll be extremely hard for him to come back," Mourinho
The German has to train with Manchester’s reserve team.
While Mourinho was criticized by Schweinsteiger’s former club
Bayern Munich and former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld,
the Portuguese is obviously convinced Schweinsteiger’s career is
on the wane.
Hitzfeld called Mourinho’s decision "disrespectful", saying:
"Bastian Schweinsteiger is a personality in football and one
that deserves a different kind of treatment," when interviewed
by the Berlin-based newspaper "Die Welt".
Hitzfeld continued, "Bastian knows how quick things change in
"I’m sure he is still capable of being a key figure for a big
Hitzfeld additionally expects Schweinsteiger to fight back
and regain a place in a top team’s squad, either at his present
club or elsewhere.
Recently Schweinsteiger announced his intention to finish his
career in Manchester and rejected a move to another European
Juventus Turin was said to be interested in Schweinsteiger.
Now rumors are growing that Schweinsteiger could join Major
League Soccer in the USA or the Chinese Super League next
Schweinsteiger himself talked about "respectful talks" with
"I know his point of view and his goals," Schweinsteiger
"I won’t stop playing football, no matter what happens to me
The midfielder pointed out that he will most possibly make a
decision to leave Manchester in winter.
"For now I want to see how things develop.
"My dream is to help Manchester to achieve their goals.
"I want to show the ManU fans what I can deliver,"
"I feel well at the moment and as I said, I won’t join
another club in Europe."
Meaning only the USA or China are an option should he decide
to leave Manchester.
While Hitzfeld attacked Mourinho, German head-coach Joachim
Loew called Schweinsteiger’s decision to retire from the German
national team a "good decision" at the "right" time.
He indicated Schweinsteiger made this decision in order to
concentrate at his club at the age of 32.
"We want to say good bye to Bastian and thank him for all he
has done for German football and the national team."
Loew knows exactly about his captain’s injury problems.
During Euro 2016 in France, Schweinsteiger lost his place in
Germany’s starting eleven precisely because he wasn’t fully fit.
After returning to Manchester, for the most part he could not
attend the training sessions due to his knee problems.
A year before Schweinsteiger left his club Bayern Munich
after 13 years, Pundits said it was because he had lost his
place in Bayern’s midfield and was threatened with the bench.
After Schweinsteiger’s farewell, Loew though will have to
announce a new captain.
Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, currently out of the
game with a minor injury, and Bayern Munich keeper Manuel Neuer
are the two favorites to lead the German team on its way to the
2018 World Cup in Russia.
Loew indicated that his decision has been made already but
that he will wait until after the Finland friendly to announce
the new leader as the spotlight should be on Schweinsteiger in
his last match.
Schweinsteiger made his international debut in a match
against Hungary on June 6, 2004.
"I was sent onto the pitch well into the game.
"Since then I’ve had many beautiful moments in my career.
"I just love this sport, but at a certain point it’s time to
step back and ask the younger ones to take over," Schweinsteiger
"I’m happy about every single game my country’s shirt.
"I still feel passion for football and it will be a very
emotional moment for me when I play my last game for Germany,"