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Friday, Sep 26, 2014

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Football: Black Stars 'counted cash' before Portugal tie - Appiah

AFP | Friday, Sep 26, 2014

Former Ghana football coach Kwesi Appiah.

ACCRA - Former Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has lifted the lid on his side's torrid World Cup campaign, revealing that players were counting thousands of dollars in cash just hours before their final match.

The Black Stars' time in Brazil was overshadowed by indiscipline and a row over unpaid appearance fees, which led to Ghana's cash-strapped government chartering a jet to fly more than $3 million (S$3.8 million) in cash to South America.

Appiah told an official hearing probing the under-par showing that the money came through on the eve of their game against Portugal, which could have seen them qualify for the knock-out stage.

"Most of the players had their $100,000 in their backpacks... Some of the boys counted their money deep into the night," he told the commission, set up by President John Dramani Mahama.

"The money was given to them at about 9:00 pm and we had the match against Portugal at about 1:00 pm the following day." Portugal won the match 2-1.

The row over unpaid appearance fees and the response to it caused a scandal in Ghana, which is reeling from a depreciating currency and high public sector debt that is squeezing the economy.

Appiah was sacked by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) on September 12 in the wake of the World Cup exit and his decision to suspend two key players, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, during the tournament.

The former coach said the GFA had promised to resolve the payment issue before the squad left its Miami training camp for Brazil but despite repeated assurances, nothing was finalised.

Players repeatedly brought up the subject at team meetings during the tournament until word came through that the money had finally been sent, he said.

"After the pronouncement, the players started jumping and they were very happy, so the morale went up," he added.

Inter Milan's Muntari was suspended for attacking a team official while Boateng was punished for abusing Appiah.

Appiah said the Schalke midfielder used "foul words such as the F-word" against him and several of his technical staff in training.

"He did it in front of all the players and I kept quiet over it because that was a day before the game against Germany," he added.

"After the Germany game, he did the same thing after which I expelled him from the training pitch.

"My intention was to let him know that it is not acceptable to use such words in front of everyone.

"For me, if it was between just the two of us, I would have ignored it but repeatedly doing the same things in front of the young ones was something we could not tolerate."

Ghana lost their first match to the United States 2-1 and drew with eventual champions Germany 1-1.

The team's preparations were also tainted by allegations by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that a GFA official had agreed for the national team to play in a game organised by match-fixers.

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