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Inside FutbolInside Futbol


Ghana Hope for More Magic Under Goran Stevanovic

Amos Annan

As the international break beckons, there is no doubt that in Africa there will be many scrutinising eyes on new Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic. Having been appointed not long after the New Year, following an arduous process played out by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) which involved sifting through countless applications for the job when former coach Milovan Rajevac quit, Stevanovic officially began work this month. Ghana’s match against Togo this week is likely to be important for the Serbian to win over the country’s faithful and to prove to all that he is indeed the most capable coach to take over the Black Stars.

Stevanovic’s appointment was greeted with some bewilderment in Ghana and questions were instantly asked as to who this Serbian is, and whether he has the credentials to deserve the job of coaching the Black Stars. Was it really worth overlooking the likes of World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, experienced local coach Herbert Addo and former Tunisia and Portugal coach Humberto Coelho in favour of the relatively unknown Stevanovic? The answer, or at least the beginnings of an answer, may be obtained from the friendly result.


The 44-year-old "Plavi", as he is also known, spent his playing career as a midfielder with various European clubs, notable among them being Partizan Belgrade and Osasuna. Having started his playing career in 1983, Stevanovic eventually hung up his boots playing for Panelefsiniakos in 1999, then slipped into coaching, currently holding a UEFA Pro License. His coaching career has been a relatively short one, having spent some time at Serbian club Cukaricki, then earning the chance to work as assistant coach from 2003 to 2006 for the Serbia and Montenegro national side.

Things started to look up for the former midfielder upon his appointment as assistant coach for former club Partizan Belgrade from 2007 to 2009, when the Serb helped his side win back-to-back league and cup doubles. Stevanovic impressed in his time as a number two at Partizan, eventually earning promotion and taking over as the coach proper of the Serbian giants. However, his reign was a short-lived one, with the 44-year-old choosing to resign towards the end of the season after increasing pressure from the fans and the board due to a poor run of form.

With Stevanovic taking over as Ghana boss, his name plucked out of over 100 applications for the job, the successor to Milovan Rajevac has been found, albeit in the form of another Serb at that. Once again, the GFA opted for a relative unknown despite Desailly (who eventually pulled out of the running) and local tactician Addo being top of the fans’ wish lists. That notwithstanding, Stevanovic’s comments at his official unveiling after sealing the two-year deal worth $30,000 a month were sure to have most Ghanaians excited. If this coach has one thing, it is confidence, and he made the solemn promise to deliver trophies for the Black Stars. And not only that, but to do so playing some exciting attacking football into the bargain; not the dour but nonetheless productive style that was the hallmark of the Rajevac era.

Another plus for "Plavi" is that, unlike former coach Rajevac, he speaks English well and as such communication should not pose a problem when it comes to getting his ideas across to the players. The Serb also speaks other European languages such as Spanish, Greek and Portuguese, which could be an added advantage when communicating with the coaches of his players’ clubs.

The objectives for Stevanovic are thus set, and will include qualification for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournaments to be held in 2012 in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and in 2013 in Libya. A successful World Cup qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil would put him on a par with his Serbian predecessors, while making it to the semi-finals in the showpiece event would surely cement his place in the hearts of all Ghanaians.

Stevanovic’s main task is therefore to set a precedent against Togo and then demonstrate his mettle in an away qualifier against Congo on 26th March; next the Serb can look forward to a mouth-watering friendly against England on the 29th. The new coach has already named his side for the Togo match, welcoming back controversial midfielder Sulley Muntari, as well as naming young talent such as striker Dominic Adiyiah. And with hitman Asamoah Gyan declaring the players’ support for their new coach and whichever system he may bring, there is little doubt that there is a wave of expectation around Stevanovic’s reign. All Ghana waits to see whether the Serb can fulfil his promise of "building champions."


Published: Tuesday, 8th Feb 2011