Stevanovic Oozes Confidence as He Meets Ghanaian Media

Affectionately called

The obvious story line coming from the press conference with Goran ‘Plavi’ Stevanovic is his quote, “It is now time for trophies…it is time to be first again” Stevanovic then added, “I am here to be a champion.” Talk about piling pressure on yourself buddy. Then again, coming from a man with a confident air, it was unsurprising.

It was not quite the level of Jose Mourinho’s “I am the special one” but by the drab standards  set by Milovan Rajevac and Ratomir Djukovic in press conferences, this was pretty bold. And it is one that Ghanaian journalists will remind him of every single time the team encounters difficulties. 

And maybe in a sign of things to come, a couple of journalists went as far as to state that he was not a good coach and should not have become the coach. Talk about preparing to say “I told you so.”

But there was more to this press conference than this ambitious statement and I will discuss my impressions of the coach. From his ambition for the team to his preferred tactics and the football philosophy he ascribes to there was plenty for everyone. The event lasted for close to an hour and a half.  

The 44-year-old is going to earn 30,000 Euros a month (same as Milovan Rajevac earned) and will begin working on February 1 for an initial two-year period. He will be accompanied by an ‘analyst’ who holds a UEFA License A certificate . The primary responsibilities of this analyst is to prepare dossiers on opponents but perhaps most importantly be the physical condition coach. The coach indicated that he had spoken to Akwasi Appiah already and is looking forward to working with him. 

Clearly impressed with the performance of the Black Stars in the past(he says he watched seven matches), he paid tribute to his immediate predecessor Milovan Rajevac for “laying a solid foundation.”

“My biggest challenge is to motivate the players to believe that they can do better and this is very challenging because they have achieved so much,” Stevanovic said.

Saying he has dealt with pressure in the past Stevanovic said, “if you lose everybody talks bad about you, if you win you’re the king.” 

In order to be regarded as a king, Stevanovic said he would like the team to play a 4-1-4-1 because that is the most effective system. But expanding on his philosophy, Stevanovic revealed that he would like for the team “to handle the ball better, to be more calm when we have possession of the ball, to dominate the midfield and not to rush.” 

As for the players he will be relying on to fulfill the potential he has identified, he says his door is open. “All the players from the problems from the past will not affect my decision to give a chance to some player who was part of the problem,” Stevanovic emphasized. He also indicated that he was ready to give the best local players a chance. To that end, he is keen to see the quality of players that Ghana sends to the CHAN tournament this year.


“I am not here to better my CV.” 

“If you play good in your team, in your club, it’s ok. If your behavior good, no problem. If you want to disrupt our spirit or we have some problem, you’re not good in our family. FINISHED. Quality and Discipline.” 

“If I not repeat or one step further, I am loser. I come here to be champions. I am champion with Partizan three times… I am champion and want to be champion.”

“It is difficult talking about myself. I am very ambitious, self-confident, open for talking. I always have good relations with the players. 

“Coaches are sweet talkers but fortunately our deeds speak for us and I am eager to start working.”

“I have a motivation in myself and I am sure that transmit for the players.”

On links to Virtus International

“My manager was my CV. Now my manager is the FA. I am not managed. My manager is the Federation, the FA.”

In short, my Impressions of Goran Stevanovic are as follows:

1. He’s confident

2. His English should satisfy the Ghanaian journalists/Ghanaians obsessed with Milovan Rajevac’s use of an interpreter. 

3. He is clearly familiar with the team and has followed them. As a result he articulated his plan for how the team should play clearly. Of course, he wouldn’t dwell on the players he would use but you have to figure the core of Milovan Rajevac’s will remain. Even though he did not discuss it, I predict that he will be looking to see who can play in the left back role and is likely to experiment there.

4. He will be no nonsense. Much like his Serbian predecessors, he stressed discipline. At one stage he said, he would invite players based on merit and discipline. He looked like he meant it. Especially the discipline part.

5. He seems to have a good sense of humor which he may need. 

Goran Stevanovic is married and has two children. He has an 18 year-old daughter and a 15 year-old son. There was no word on whether his family would move to Ghana with him.

…And it was down to UNO

Goran Stevanovic has a tough task continuing Ghana's winning ways

Goran Stevanovic is the new Black Stars coach. Ghana’s love affair with Serbian coaches continues and who can blame the members of the GFA? Our last two Serbian coaches have performed well and some of Ghana’s best results have come under them. First time participation in the World Cup followed by quarter-finalists in the subsequent one. 

But the success his compatriot predecessors have established is double edged. The familiarity with Serbians may have given Stevanovic an edge in the eyes of the search committee. Yet, it may be the thing he has to worry most about. The high bar Ratomir Djukovic and Milovan Rajevac have set may be the thing that kills him.

He steps in at a point where Ghanaians’ thirst for an African Cup is at its highest. And who can blame the fans. 28 years and counting. So, as the GFA officials hand him the baton, they have probably whispered into his ear, “African Cup of Nations.” His task getting to that elusive fifth title will not be easy. His first competitive game will be away to Congo Brazzaville and unlike Rajevac there is not much room for experimentation and error. So far, Sudan has proven an able foe with their goalless draw in Kumasi an example. Congo, if their 2010 African Cup of Nations campaign is any indication, will not be easy to play at home.

Oh and did I mention that a few days after the important qualifier against Congo, Ghana has a high-profile friendly? That is if you can call Ghana vs England a friendly. The Ghanaian fans will desperately want to win against our former colonial masters and teach them a footballing lesson. 

So, Goran, meet baptism. Of FIRE! The Wednesday press conference where the usual ritual of doubting who you and what credentials you bring will seem tame. No. That press conference will be child’s play. The pressure to continue winning matches in the short term and championships in the long-term may suffocate you.

But then again, he may have seen it all already. When the shortlist of five coaches was released, I was intrigued by Stevanovic’s inclusion and I did a search on the internet. What struck me was that he had accumulated varied experience. Unlike Marcel Desailly, the hot favorite at the time, he had been an assistant coach at the national team level (Serbia and Montenegro) and at club level (Partizan Belgrade). He subsequently rose to the head coaching position of Partizan Belgrade and resigned after a  short stint as the main man.

He will be under pressure to deliver immediately. There is no guinea pig phase for him and that is what I worry about the most.