Ben Koufie: The man behind Ghanian football success at the World Cup

Koufie came to Zimbabwe as the Technical Advisor to ZIFA between 1981 and 82.

The Zimbabwe Warriors qualified for the finals of the 2004 African Nations Cup in Tunisia for the first time and for those of a superstitious disposition, it meant Ghanaian Ben Koufie’s alleged curse had finally been broken!

Over the years many fans began to believe that the team was under a curse, remembering the words of then coach Ben Koufie in 1991.

Angry at the Zimbabwe Football Association’s lack of planning, an angry Koufie suggested that not even a coach from the moon would help the national team to qualify for any major tournament under those circumstances.

Indeed, many different coaches tried and failed to take Zimbabwe to the promised land.

They include the German Reinhard Fabisch, Dutchman Clemens Westerhof and England’s Iain Porterfield.

Incredibly, against all expectations, it was a local coach, Sunday Marimo, who broke new ground. 

Koufie came back to Zimbabwe where he assumed the role of Director of Coaching in October 1988 until January 1992 and under his leadership Zimbabwe’s under-23 national team qualified for the All African Games held in Egypt in 1991, the first continental tournament Zimbabwe participated in at the national level, at the time.

He was later haunted by rogue Sports journalists at State newspaper, The Herald.

During his stay in Zimbabwe, he produced 957 qualified coaches through courses in Preliminary, Intermediate and Advance levels.

In February 1992, he left Zimbabwe for Botswana to become their FA Technical Director and remained in that position until January 2001.

Mr Koufie has conducted high level coaching courses on behalf of CAF in many African countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho, Kenya and Uganda and served as a member of the CAF Technical Study Group during the Under-20 African Youth championship hosted by Ghana in 1999.

He was appointed a FIFA Instructor in January 2000 and served on the FIFA Technical Study Group for the FIFA Confederations Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

Mr Koufie was awarded a silver medal by CAF for his meritorious service to the development of football on the continent at their general assembly in Accra in January 2000.

In February 2002 Mr Ben Koufie, as chairman of the Ghana Football Association, said Ghana football could only be redeemed and lifted to the dizzy heights it attained in the past if discipline is instilled in all stakeholders.

Speaking to the Ghanian media in an interview at the 26 March 2002 at the Stadium in Bamako at the 23rd edition of the African Cup of Nations, Mr Koufie said players could only achieve their full potentials if they subject themselves to strict discipline, on and off the field.

He said football administrators must also operate under an umbrella of truth and adhere to the rules and conventions of fairness in order to influence their players to behave properly.

The GFA chairman said in order to rescue Ghana football there must be total commitment on the part of players and the only way to achieve this is to tell them the truth when they err and subject them to a penalty commensurate with their misconduct.

Mr Koufie advised Ghanaians to stop unnecessary praise singing, which in his opinion, make some players think that they are super stars and therefore above the rules and regulations of their administrators.

When Ben Koufie, a retired footballer and coach became chairman of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), after Abedi Ayew Pele, had stepped down from the chellenge.

Abedi said in a post-elections interview that he had stepped down because he wanted to understudy and tap the rich experience of the 69 year-old Koufie.

After his election as GFA Ben Koufie said the new GFA would develop football at the grassroots through to the senior level, adding that a development programme embracing all competitions would be put in place to feature only players between the ages of 17 to 24 years and that is the current Ghanian programme that has carried the nation at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Mr Koufie touched on various other plans including sponsorship and marketing departments, which he assigned to Abedi Pele.

"I equally have my connections but Pele is a gem which has been internationally recognised in recent times."

He promised the media of either a weekly or bi-weekly meet-the press series to showcase transparency.

Born on June 5, 1932, Ben Koufie was a member of the Black Stars between 1957 to 1958 and later coached the team from 1964 to the early 70s.

He also led Kumasi Asante Kotoko to win the Africa Club Championship in Zaire in 1971 and later became the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the GFA between 1979-1980.

He is currently a CAF technical instructor and a member of the FIFA technical study group.

Mr Koufie was born on June 5, 1932 and started playing football during his school days.

After schooling, he played for local clubs including Cape Coast Dwarfs, until he was called to play for the Black Stars in 1957.

Mr Koufie attended a coaching course in the former Czechoslovakia from March to June 1961 and the former West Germany later in the same year.

He obtained a First Class Diploma in coaching from the former East Germany in 1964, where he won the gold medal as the best student.

Mr Koufie obtained an English Football Association Coaching Certificate in 1970 and was attached to Chelsea Football Club under Dave Sexton.

Locally he was appointed a Regional Coach in 1961 and subsequently the

Deputy National Coach in December 1964 and was on the technical bench when the

Stars won the 1965 African Nations’ Cup in Tunis.

He was also part of the team that came second in the 1968 tournament in Addis Ababa and was the Senior Coach for the 1970 edition in Sudan, where Ghana again won the silver.

On the local scene Mr Koufie partnered Mr Aggrey-Fynn as a coach to win the African Club Championship with Kumasi Asante Kotoko and took Accra Great Olympics to the semi finals of the same competition in 1972.

Mr Koufie coached African Sports of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for three years before returning to the country to handle Akosombo Akotex, then a first division side of Akosombo Textiles Limited from 1979-1980.