CHAN throws up unique challenges


Ghana’s 2-1 win over Niger ensured passage into the next round for a game against closest neighbours Togo who got a bye after Benin withdrew.

As LeRoy prepares for what should be a thrilling derby, he will discover there are many dissenting voices about his approach to the championships and what purpose it should serve. He, like of the rest of the country too will discover that there are practical difficulties to making this wonderful idea work.

Already there are questions about LeRoy’s insistence that he isn’t interested in players over 24 years given that he is using this team to build. It is a classical illustration of the conflict between long term plan and instant success in football.

Some of LeRoy’s youngsters have been easy on the eye, their passing game a delightful sight when they took on Niger at the Tamale Sports Stadium.

In a country where Hearts and Kotoko dominate everything, it was also refreshing that the star men were from clubs like Kpandu Heart of Lions and Wa All Stars. Already though, the opposition is mounting with increasing calls for the inclusion of Emmanuel Osei Kufour and others.

The Asante Kotoko man is a class act on his day but a lot of the calls for his inclusion is fuelled by his commitment to the local game even if that was forced on him by failure to make the all-important European breakthrough.

With crowd favourites Charles Taylor, Ishmael Addo and Kweku Essien due to return to action, LeRoy’s policy of giving an age cap to a competition open to all will face even more opposition especially if those players manage to turn on the style.

But that will be nothing compared to the other problem the competition has to live with. Every one of the players who played for Ghana over the two legs want to play their football in an environment where the money and facilities provide with a good chance of sporting success and financial security.

The domestic league in Ghana does not and in interview after the interviews, the players always drop that familiar line: every player dreams of playing in Europe so I hope I will get my chance one day.

There is every chance Eric Bekoe would be ineligible for the local Black Stars before the inaugural competition next year, John Boye’s quality in central defence will attract many clubs and Harrison Afful after his outstanding performance for the Black Stars against Mexico will have the option of a move at some point.

That provides LeRoy with a huge dilemma. The young players he is happy to rely on are happy to jump ship, aware that once you are home based, you are not financially stable and almost certainly an outsider when the regular national team is called up.

The CHAN will provide players who ply their trade the chance to catch the eye on a bigger more organized scale but it is almost certain to speed up the rate of departures from the poorer leagues like the Ghana one.