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Sports News
Make Or Break ... As Meteors Battle Nigeria 7/10/2011
Samuel Inkoom’s negotiation with his Russian club, Dnipro, to forgo half of this month’s salary in order to be allowed to join the Black Meteors for Sunday’s make or break All Africa Games final qualifier against Nigeria’s Dream Team 5 remains the main motivation for his colleagues.

And even without the Ayew brothers — Dede and Jordan — Daniel Opare of Belgium side Standard Liege and Rabiu Mohammed of newly promoted French Ligue 1 side, Evian Thonon Gaillard, the boys appeared fired up and more determined to salvage their image, as well as the country’s current failed international assignments.

Indeed, news about key defender, Jonathan Mensah’s inability to make it to Ghana was what nearly shook the squad, but the management team quickly had to fly Liberty Professional’s Alfred Nelson to Kumasi to soothe the players.

A new breeze seems to be blowing among the players, even without some key players, and that zeal was demonstrated in last Wednesday’s 4-0 drubbing of local Division One side Deportivo at the Baba Yara Stadium.

Team Manager, Shabahn Quaye, is particularly elated that Ghana will be presenting 11 committed and gallant players who are set to overturn a first leg 1-3 loss to traditional rivals, Nigeria, in Lagos a fortnight ago.

Ghana took the lead in that game but failed to hold onto the thin lead and surrendered the match to Nigeria who, reports say were aided by the referee.

The Meteors team has undergone some turbulent season in recent times, just as the other national teams. Apart from the Black Princesses who booked their ticket for the Games slated for Maputo, Mozambique in September, all the others have failed in their missions.

The under-17 team were booted out from the assembly of World Cup candidates, the under-20 failed to defend their tittle they won in Egypt, while the Black Queen missed out on making it to the women’s World Cup.

The Meteors themselves had failed in their first mission of picking a ticket to the London 2012 Olympics under Coach David Duncan and now have Nigeria to beat to salvage their image of making it to the All Africa Games.

But while the players appear a bit relaxed, Coach Kwasi Appiah seems tense because his image and credibility hang in a balance.

He has a huge task of making a strong statement for local coaches after their image appears to have been dented in recent times.

Appiah himself had blown a first opportunity when he was put in acting capacity of the Black Stars coaching job. He could only manage a 0-0 draw in an Africa Nations Cup qualifier against The Sudan in Kumasi.

This may just be the former captain of the Black Stars and Kumasi Asante Kotoko’s last chance to prove to the authorities that he has what it takes to handle big boys.

Certainly it will not come cheap because Coach Austin Eguavoen of Nigeria’s Dream Team 5 knows too well that a failure in Kumasi could end his job with the Nigerian Football Association (NFA). And that could be Appiah’s challenge.

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