The Ghanaian Football Association on Friday named a new president more than a year after a corruption scandal forced a major shake-up of the game in the West African nation.
Kurt Okraku — chief executive of local Premier League club Dreams FC — filled the position left vacant since Kwesi Nyantakyi stepped down after an undercover documentary showed him soliciting kickbacks worth millions of dollars.
Okraku got the nod from the 120 delegates after beating former FA vice president George Afriyie at a second round of voting.
The expose by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas rocked football in Ghana and led to the creation of a “normalisation committee” to lead reforms in the FA before a new president could be chosen.
Ghana’s government said the revelations in 2018 had exposed “gross malfunctioning… characterised by widespread fraud, corruption and bribery” at the country’s FA.
Nyantakyi was banned from football for life by the sport’s world governing body FIFA last October after being found guilty of bribery and corruption.
The sting also saw a string of referees banned for life in Ghana and football officials in a number of other African countries sanctioned.
According to the minister, Nigeria, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), respects the rules of the regional body.
He gave assurance that free movement of persons and goods would continue, stressing that the border closure was targeted at criminal activities and not countries.
Onyeama also informed the Ghanaian ministers that the Nigerian government would ensure that issues raised by their country would be looked into and addressed as soon as possible.
Read the tweets by the minister below:
Met with H.E. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration and H.E. @Alankyerematen, Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry. I assured that after the meeting between the Ministers and relevant stakeholders, the challenge of ease of trade… pic.twitter.com/DTQPnbdYkJ
He assured the public that “state security agencies remain vigilant, and will work to safeguard national security and public safety”.
Ghana is viewed as a bulwark of stability in a region characterised by insecurity and turbulence.
The West African nation has been run by democratically elected governments since 1992 and is gearing to hold fresh polls late next year.
Incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo looks set to face a challenge from former leader John Mahama for the top job.
The statement on the alleged plot sparked further questions in the country.
Security analyst Festus Aboagyehe called for more information and warned that the authorities appeared too quick to conclude the suspects were plotting to destabilise the government.
“I cannot put words in the mouth of government but the agencies involved are expected to be professional enough to explain exactly what this group was about,” the retired army officer told local media.
“I do not exactly understand what targeting the presidency means,” he added.
Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen apologised Tuesday for his furious reaction to being substituted ahead of a penalty shootout against Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Hassen, 24, was replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha right at the end of extra time in Monday’s last 16 clash that Tunisia won 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Ismailia.
“I want to come back on yesterday’s incident and I will start first of all by offering an apology to the coach, my teammates as well as the supporters of the national team,” Hassen tweeted, putting his “regrettable reaction” down to the “pressure of the match”.
Tunisia defeated Ghana 5-4 on penalties Monday with Ferjani Sassi converting the decisive spot-kick to end a 54-year Africa Cup of Nations losing streak against the Black Stars.
After a 1-1 draw following extra time in Ismailia, Tunisia scored from all five penalties while Ghana substitute Caleb Ekusan had his attempt saved by Farouk Ben Mustapha, who came off the bench especially for the shootout.
Victory was sweet for Tunisia as they had lost six times to Ghana in the African football showcase from 1965 after drawing the first meeting between the nations two years earlier.
On Thursday, the Carthage Eagles play giantkillers, Madagascar in a quarter-final in Cairo with the winners meeting Senegal or Benin for a place in the July 19 final.
Losing on penalties ended a Ghana run of six consecutive top-four finishes in the Cup of Nations and puts the future of coach Kwesi Appiah in doubt.
Four-time former champions Ghana changed two of the team that began a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau that enabled them to pip Cameroon for top spot in Group F on goals scored.
Both alterations were on the left side of a 4-3-3 formation with defender Nuhu Kasim and midfielder Afriyie Acquah replacing Joseph Aidoo and Owusu Kwabena.
Tunisia coach and 1980s France star Alain Giresse reacted to an embarrassing 0-0 draw with minnows Mauritania in their previous match by dropping four of the team.
A big surprise was the exclusion of forward Wahbi Khazri, who had been the outstanding Tunisian attacker in the group phase and scored one of their two goals.
Bassem Srarfi, Naim Sliti and Karim Aouadhi were also relegated to the bench with Ghaylen Chaalali, Ferjani Sassi, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Anice Badri promoted.
After early yellow cards for Ghanaian John Boye, the first player to be red-carded in the group phase, and Tunisian Dylan Bronn, the first half became a cagey, even affair.
Ghana came close to scoring on 16 minutes when a Kasim header struck the post and Andre Ayew fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper Hassen Mouez.
Andre Ayew was convinced he had put the Black Stars ahead on 41 minutes when he backheeled a cross into the net, but the referee ruled that Thomas Partey handled in the build-up.
Replays showed the ball touching the chin of the Atletico Madrid midfielder rather than a hand and the disallowed goal infuriated the Ghanaians.
Midway through the second half Giresse had second thoughts about the composition of his attack, which was making little impression, and sent on Khazri in place of Badri.
Khazri needed just five minutes to make an impact with his brilliant backheel creating space for Wajdi Kechrida to cross and Khenissi scored with a shot that went in off the near post.
The woodwork foiled Ghana a second time when a Mubarak Wakaso shot from outside the box struck the far post 10 minutes from the end of regular time with Mouez beaten.
In the first minute of stoppage time, the Blacks Stars drew level with an attempted headed clearance by Bedoui looped over Mouez, who had strayed off his line.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa has condemned the attack on Nigerians in Kumasi, Ghana, describing it as a xenophobic attack.
Speaking at a meeting with the Consular-General of the Ghanaian high commissioner in Nigeria, Dabiri-Erewa called for the protection of the rights of Nigerians in the country.
“We need your assurances from Nigerian traders particularly in Ghana of their protection. We are here to appeal to you to protect Nigerians in Ghana, especially the traders, and to ensure that such an incident will not happen anymore,” he said.
The presidential aide, however, commended the Ghanaian government for the prompt response through the intervention of the country’s police chief.
Speaking on investments, Dabiri-Erewa noted that Nigerians have contributed immensely to the growth and development of Ghana’s economy.
“We have a lot of investments in Ghana in education, banking, real estate and all that, that is helping the Ghanaian economy.
“So we are here to complain about what happened yesterday and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again so that Nigerians living legally in Ghana will be protected,” she said.
On his part, the Consular-General, James Nyasembi, said some persons have been arrested and will soon be charged to court.
According to him, the Ghanaian authorities will ensure that the rights of all Nigerians living in their country is protected.
“The President of Ghana has directed the Inspector General of Police, the Minister for National Security and all the security agencies to be on top of the issue.
“As we speak now, the shops have been reopened. The Nigerians who are operating their shops in Kumasi have been assured of their security, they have been asked to go back to their duties without fear of being molested or harassed by any person in the region.
“Some Ghanaians who have been involved in this act have been arrested and they have been placed before the court because it is a matter that the President of Ghana will not allow to happen to dampen the spate of excellent relations that exist between Ghana and Nigeria,” he said.
Ghana national team captain Asamoah Gyan on Wednesday reversed his decision to retire from international football, just weeks before the Africa Cup of Nations.
The striker said Monday he was quitting the national team after he was angered by coach Kwasi Appiah’s plan to strip him of the captaincy for next month’s finals in Egypt.
But President Nana Akufo-Addo intervened on Tuesday by telephoning the Turkey-based player, urging him to make himself available for selection.
Gyan in a statement said he has accepted the president’s request and was ready for the tournament.
“A presidential request is one that cannot be disregarded… I have taken the request of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in good faith, and will make myself available for selection by coach Kwasi Appiah,” the 33-year-old forward said in a statement.
Ghana national team captain on Monday announced his retirement from international football just weeks before the Africa Nations Cup.
Gyan said his decision had been taken as a way to protest a plan by coach Kwesi Appiah to deny him the opportunity of captaining the Black Stars in next month’s Africa Nations Cup in Egypt.
“Upon consultation with my family and team… if the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team for the tournament, I wish to recuse myself from the tournament,” the 33-year-old player said in a statement.