Former Asante Kotoko and Ghana Internationals, Issah Ahmed and Yusif Chibsah have called on local clubs to encourage the inclusion of experience players in their teams as their knowledge and experience of the game would be a valuable asset for the young stars.
The two ex-stars lamented how constantly old players are shunned by clubs and fans and described as “old duod3” to wit old cassava discounting how their guidance and inspiration can help navigate the careers of the young ones.
Speaking from his base in the United States on GTV’s Time with the Legends on Sunday, ex-Kotoko strongman, Ahmed said Ghanaian clubs were quick to retire players once they were beyond their youthful days, a practice he said was a contributing factor to the decline in performance of Ghanaian clubs.
Ahmed, adored by Kotoko fans for his robust, tough-tackling play during his playing days, narrated an experience in Ghana when he was retired but still active with training.
“When I was in Ghana some years back , I had an encounter with Daniel Nii Adjei, then a young and promising star with Kotoko in Kumasi after a Monday Stars match. After the game he walked up to me and said “Senior watching you closely we could use your services back at Kotoko, we’ll have a lot to learn from you but I told him they had retired us.”
Ahmed, who was instrumental in Kotoko’s 2005 team and at a point captained the side, was also critical of the media for their role in discouraging old players to return to the game on the local scene.
“We can get a lot of them to return if the media stop being so critical and labeling them as old players who have passed their prime and can’t deliver. The media is always quick to forgive young players when they make mistakes during games but when an old player makes a mistake he is harshly and at times unjustifiably critiqued and not forgiven.”
On his part, Yusif Chibsah, also a former captain and respected figure in the Kotoko fraternity pointed out the dangers of alienating veterans from the game, saying that the practice deprived most young stars the opportunity of learning from the old stars.
“Most of these old stars I can confidently say have a lot of energy and football in their legs, yet we are quick to cast them aside and shut the door on them.”
Chibsah, said in his days what made them exceptional was the perfect blend of the old stars and the young stars, a model he said most clubs must consciously re-institute.
“I can’t begin to list the values we learnt from the old Stars on and off the field; playing with greats such as Emmanuel Ampiah, Joe Debrah and later Godwin Ablordey was valuable to our careers – their guidance, discipline and counsel is largely missing today and this is a matter of grave concern.”
He added that to build a formidable and competitive side, the right blend of experience and youth was required.
He recounted the experience of how former Asante Kotoko and Ghana International, Hamza Mohammed rescinded a decision to return to the GPL after an unpleasant experience when he was labeled an ‘old horse’ during a Heart vs. Olympics game , dissuading him from pursuing a return to the GPL as planned.
Currently in the GPL, top sides Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak have an average squad age between 18- 29 years with no known veterans currently attached to both sides.
Veterans currently active in the league include Berekum Chelsea’s duo Jordan Opoku (38 years) and Richard Kissi Boateng (32 years), Legon Cities goalkeeper Fatau Dauda (35 years), Liberty’s Ernest Papa Arko (36 years), Medeama midfielder Odoom Meshack (31 years) and Aduana forward Yahaya Mohammed (32 years).
Others such as Olympics pair, striker Emmanuel Clottey (32 years) and Goalkeeper Ernest Sowah (32 years) and King Faisal’s Daniel Nii Adjei (31 years) have recently been laid off by their respective sides.
In recent times, former Hearts players Wisdom Abbey and Eric Nyarko have declared a desire to return, but have cited disinterest from clubs and their labeling as old players as reasons for staying away.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO