Maroc! Maroc!

That was the jubilation chant: Maroc! Maroc! It was the football victors chanting sometime in the 1970s after their Atlas Lions had overcome our Black Stars in a penalty shootout. They called their motherland that, Maroc (in French).What we call Morocco is supposed to be the people of Angle land’s version. I learnt the Spanish called the place Marruecos.

There is supposed to have been a Tuscan one too, Marrocco, which is said to have metamorphosed into the Italian Marocco. Boney M, German band of diaspora Africans in their song ‘Ride to Agadir’ sing Mohammed and Morocco in the lyrics. Guitar band singer King Onyina, on his part, has in the lyrics of his ‘Destiny of Africa’ 1958 song of calypso beat ‘M, in members, stands for Morocco.’

So one motherland country, too many, a quintuple of names; as many as five. It’s something people not of a motherland or a certain land, choose to call her by their motherland names. So you have Winneba not Simpa, Saltpond not Akyemfo, Cape Coast not Oguaa, and so on. For years, we were made to write Peking not Beijing and Bombay not Mumbai by those whose languages we have chosen to impose on ourselves instead of using our own.

Maroc, Maroc, though, takes us back to a before Africa Cup of Nations match time. It was the days of great players such as Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Polo, the dribbling magician, and ‘scorer of important goals,’ too, if I remember rightly. In spite of an array of that caliber of players, the Black Stars lost to the Atlas Lions 5-6 after a tense 5-5 in a penalty shootout. Morocco had scored the sixth while the Ghana kicker had sent the ball over the bar.

In all, the football statisticians say going into the Monday, January 10, 2022 game, three times the two teams had played against each other for continental honours. Results had been perfect balance, one win each and one draw. It could, thus, be any team’s win or a draw. After the Monday game, the balance has now tilted towards Morocco which has won two, lost one and drawn one.

So why, how and for what should one be beefing over this too? It’s simple; because one of the greatest endowments of this motherland has been football talent out which she has built soft power and capital over the years. At independence and during the early republican years, she made a name for herself with football. And even today, many know about her existence because of football. So every international football game played matters. It could add or subtract from the reputation earned.

Going into a game in which you and your opponents are balanced, one would have thought preparation would be strenuous; determination and resolve high along with every bit of seriousness. One expects your best team, including the fittest set of players.

Unexpectedly, a team was fielded that had at least one less than fit player. That unfit player happened to be the one to lead the others in the example of playing one’s heart out. It’s hard to understand how a less than fit player can play his heart out to the effect of inspiring others.

How merit came to be abandoned sounds weirder. The coach who was touted so much by a GFA claiming superiority over its predecessor says so much pressure was brought to bear on the selection he couldn’t unselect the one who was not fit. Woaw! You are meeting an opponent who has proven as strong as you are and you want to concede a handicap? I believe he wouldn’t have agreed with that if he were coaching his motherland team.

June 14, 1974, team Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) lost 0-9 in a World Cup match to team Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavian spokesperson was reported to have said ‘if we can’t beat Zaire we had better pack our bags and go home.’ Zaire was being coached by a Yugoslavian!!

I didn’t believe anyone when people, who to me, for their own selfish objectives, were saying foreign coaches get less influenced by GFA and, maybe, even government officials, than their local counterparts. Check out pervading inferiority complex and the ampɛbrɛ attitude of seeking to achieve results without hard work and total commitment to the cause.

People want the best results within the shortest possible time; sort of my favourite maxim: ‘minimum effort for maximum comfort.’  Kwame Nkrumah said ‘self-government now,’ because the fight for self-government had been going on long enough, including the effort of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society the 19th century before.

Those expecting quick trophies may rather pick his ‘black man is capable of handling his own affairs.’ Since the affair of football also concerns women, if the men are out of ideas or care too much about their pockets to resort to quick fixes, they should turn over football administration to the women.

R & D (research and development) works in all ventures in all spheres of life. GFA cannot disconnect itself from developing coaching talent. Charles Kumi Gyamfi, who coached the Black Stars to continental trophy winning conquests, was deliberately sponsored to train as a coach by GAFA (Ghana Amateur Football Association).

The prevailing hackneyed idea of a team might as well prove me wrong by winning the ongoing championship to justify the obsession with foreign coaches. Otherwise, instead, GFA should be building a matriotic team of coaches and players of discipline with real love for, and dedication towards playing to win for the motherland.

A national obsession with the foreign as superior to win trophies, hasn’t worked since 1979 (for 42 years). Players don’t play for free. They get paid separately to appear to play, for scoring a goal and for winning a match. They should earn their pay by playing their hearts out. My compatriots and I want to chant ‘Ghana! Ghana!’ after matches with Morocco.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh