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 By Colin Udoh

Kwesi Appiah must assert authority in leading Ghana

Building better team chemistry will be key for Kwesi Appiah, who this week was given another chance to lead Ghana's national team.

Early this week, Ghana's FA re-appointed Kwesi Appiah as coach of the senior men's national team. Appiah, who left the job by mutual consent, is now back to replace Avram Grant, the man who was appointed to replace him. There is no doubt that as he gets set to return to the job he left barely three years ago, Appiah will be haunted by the mistakes of his last stint.

Here are three things he could do differently this time

1. Stamp his authority on team

The first thing Kwesi Appiah needs to do is show that he has learnt from the mistakes that guillotined him the last go-around. That means he has to let go of his perceived meekness and stamp his authority on the team.

Appiah presided over one of the most embarrassing episodes in Ghanaian football history, when state officials flew millions of dollars in cash to Brazil to placate players.

Part of the reasons for that fiasco was his decision to pick strong but barely fit characters like Michael Essien and Kevin Prince Boateng. Neither player was in a physically ready position to contribute to games from the start, but the exclusion from the starting team led to a toxic atmosphere in the dressing room which, combined with mistrust of the FA's willingness to settle allowances, led to that global disgrace.

In selecting his squad this time, Appiah needs to focus on picking not only the best, and most in-form Ghanaian players, but will also have to look out for the egotists who could poison his dressing room.

The Black Stars are in serious need of a purge. Appiah, whose gentle mien is said to mask a hard streak that earned him the nickname of "Silent Killer" must jettison the gentleman in him and play hardball.

That means deciding which players have served their time with Ghana, telling them thank you and bidding them adieu. One of the coach's strengths is his ability to identify and blood new talent. He did it with success in his previous stint, providing his successor-predecessor with plenty of young players to form the core of a new Black Stars team. Now, he must do it all over again.

2. Resolve captainship issue

Speaking about poisonous dressing rooms, reports have swirled for months, and especially during the African Nations Cup in Gabon, of a captaincy tussle between Asamoah Gyan and Andrew Ayew.

The GFA and coach Avram Grant went to great pains to dispel the reports in Gabon, but Grant seemed almost powerless to deal with the issue.

Appiah must act with immediacy and conviction as soon as he officially takes the reins on May 1. He must either confirm Gyan without any equivocation, or advise and encourage him to retire and confirm Ayew as the substantive replacement.

Allowing the situation to fester is guaranteed to ground his ship before it even leaves the harbour.

3. Show better tactical acumen

One of the biggest complaints against Appiah (next to his supposedly meek attitude) was his tactical limitations. His substitutions were almost always like for like, and one quote of him saying he wanted the opposition (the United States) to tire out before making substitutions had Ghanaian fans and media scratching their heads in some perplexed disbelief.

It must also surely have cost him respect in the dressing room.

Since leaving the Black Stars, however, Appiah has enhanced his reputation, going over to Sudan with Al Khartoum. While he did not exactly light up the Sudanese league, he did win coach of the year despite only guiding the club to a fifth-place finish in 2015.

That will not be good enough for Ghana. Their World Cup hopes are in jeopardy after a disjointed first two games, and a major miracle will be required to turn things around. Appiah will be expected to provide that magic.

To do so, he must fashion out the tactics to win every game going forward, while trying to rebuild a team, fractured by egos, disputes and age.

Colin Udoh is a Nigeria football correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ColinUdoh.


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