Tag: Africa cup of nations


A Ghanaian Footballing Pioneer: The Legend of CK Gyamfi

As summer 2015 began its first forays into autumn, one of the brightest Black Stars dimmed, fading away into the ages. Charles (Nana) Kumi Gyamfi, more popularly known as C.K. Gyamfi, passed on to glory on 2nd September 2015. In his wake, he leaves a legacy which still looms large over the landscape of Ghanaian football.

gfa_mourns_passing_of_legendary_coach_ck_gyamfi_975092106Born in Accra in 1929, Gyamfi began playing football at the age of 7 in junior school. His precocious talent was noticeable from the off, and he became an integral part of his School XI, playing against boys bigger and taller than him. Due to his special talent, he gained admission into the Accra Royal School in 1944, despite the School being closed to further admissions as they had no vacancies!

He started his senior professional career with Sailors Football Club in 1948. After a match against the Ebusua Dwarfs in which he excelled against the opposition, he was persuaded to join them for a brief time before commencing a 5 year run playing for the Asante Kotoko. Noted for being the pivot around which Kotoko’s attack rotated, Gyamfi earned the right to play for the Gold Coast team which toured the United Kingdom in 1951. The Gold Coast team stunned their opponents, playing barefoot on British shores and scoring a total of 25 goals, with CK Gyamfi scoring 11 of those goals!

On his return to Ghana, armed with his first pair of boots, he introduced football boots to the Ashanti and Southern Gold Coast playing circles, and is credited by some as leading the charge which led to every team in the nation adopting football boots. He formed the Kumasi Great Ashanti in 1954, following a big split in the Kotoko camp, leading them to many great victories. After 2 years, he left the Great Ashantis and joined the Hearts of Oak, helping them win their first Cleague title in 1956 as well as being the inaugural winners of the league title in a newly independent Ghana in 1958. His 4 year stint at Hearts ended in 1960, when he secured a transfer to Fortuna Düsseldorf – becoming the first African football to ply their trade in German football! He scored on his debut and was held in affection by the Düsseldorf faithful, nicknamed ‘Tunda Vita’ (meaning ‘Thunder Weather’) due to his powerful shots.

He then entered football management, becoming assistant coach in 1961 before taking full charge of the Ghana National Team in 1962 following the departure of the Hungarian Black Star head coach Joseph Ember. Winning the Uhuru Cup in Uganda, Ghana then went on to win the West African Gold Cup. Gyamfi then led Ghana to their first Africa Cup of Nations championship in 1963, before repeating the feat 2 years later in 1965. For those who may have considered that achievement a fluke, an anomaly achieved in the 1960s where football was a lesser standard, CK Gyamfi stuffed their opinions back down their throats as he returned to manage the Black Stars in 1982 and secured a record third Africa Cup of Nations crown! Even now, more than 30 years after becoming the first manager to win three Africa Cup of Nations championships, only one coach has managed to equal the feat, and none have been able to surpass it.

Such a figure simply could not be ignored, and Mr Gyamfi continued to be an important voice in Ghanaian football. Most significantly, towards the end of his life when asked about Ghana’s failures in international competition, he bemoaned a culture among today’s generation motivated by love of money rather than national pride. “The players that I worked with played for the love of the game and were totally committed to playing for their country,” said the man known in football circles by his initials, CK. He added: “Today’s players don’t know the value of the national jersey but my players were prepared to die for their country.”

CK-169x300He became a chief of Okorasi, a small town in the Eastern Region of Ghana, in 1999 when the stool of the town became vacant. He also received honours in the form of being named a ‘National Sports Hero’ and being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, as well as having the National Sports College in Winneba being named after him. The former captain of Accra Hearts of Oak & Ghana Black Stars, and the engineer of three of Ghana’s four Africa Cup of Nations triumphs, CK Gyamfi leaves behind his wife Madam Valerie Quartey Gyamfi (who was a former national tennis player herself) and eight sons.

By Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Ghanaian Celebrity: Michael Essien the Bison

So Michael Essien has finally announced his return to international football after a one year absence (felt longer actually). He will be available for the Black stars next game; the African nations qualifier against Congo on 06 June 2011. Essien said; I am fully ready to return to the Black Stars for our next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo in June,” he also added ; “I really want to help my country to qualify for the next year’s Africa Cup of Nations so I am ready to join my colleagues to help the country to qualify.”

This will be welcome news to many Ghanaians but I have to say the Black Stars have not exactly missed him (we reached the African nations final and World Cup quarter final without him) and emerging players such as Kwado Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu have shone in central midfield in his absence.

 Furthermore the reason for his hiatus was in order for him to regain his form and fitness following a series of injuries. However for me since he has returned from his most recent injury the midfielder nicknamed ‘the bison’ has looked anything but and in fact the name ‘the sheep’ might be more apt to sum up his recent performances.

Some of you may think I am being harsh; but such is the standard Michael Essien has set over the years seeing him play average games does not sit well with me.  I’m used to see him dominate midfield, make crunching tackles and driving runs into the opposition half and to be honest I haven’t seen much of this since his return.

There is a suggestion that he may not be able to simply walk straight back in the team and regain his place (as Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari found in the world cup). As I mentioned before other players have done well in his absence and Ghana have developed an effective system of playing without a him, it will be interesting to see how the coach accommodates him.

However his return can only be good for Ghana such is his pedigree and hopefully pulling on the Black stars will help him rediscover his form and produce the type performances that earnt him the nickname “the bison”

Ben JK Anim-Antwi