Former Ghana star Laryea won’t hold Serbian coach Dujkovic responsible for World Cup woes

    The 39-year-old looks back on his failure to play at the global football showpiece

    Former Ghana international Laryea Kingston has refused to single out then Black Stars coach Ratomir Dujkovic for his controversial exclusion from the final squad for the 2006 World Cup campaign.

    One of the key men when the West Africans secured a place at the global gathering for s historic first time, the midfielder saw nothing but disappointment when the tournament in Germany came around.

    A three-match ban copped while playing at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) five months to the World Cup meant the attacker would have sat out Ghana’s first two games should he have made the squad for the big championship.

    Ghana’s Serbian coach at the time, Dujkovic, consequently made a bold call to leave out Kingston as impending group fixtures against Italy, the Czech Republic and Serbia projected a likely first-round exit for the Black Stars, a situation which could see the winger featuring in only one out of three matches.

    “I don’t think the problem was from Dujkovic,” Kingston, who was again controversially left out of Ghana’s squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, told Goal.

    “Of course he is the coach, so people will put blame and everything on him. Sometimes he doesn’t take all the decisions. Definitely, like coaches do, they seek advice and plan all sessions and selections with their backroom staff, so I don’t think he took that decision solely. We had people around him that he would confide in taking such a decision.

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    “I don’t want to put blame on him or any other person. They should have done better but it was a collective thing. Because he is the coach, people will say he has to pick his players. But I don’t think Dujkovic decided on my going out of the team alone. It was a group of people who did that so I can’t put blame on anybody.”

    At Afcon in Egypt, Kingston was sent off in Ghana’s second group game against Senegal for simulation after a challenge with Habib Beye.

    He was later handed a three-game ban, consequently missing the last group fixture against Zimbabwe. Ghana’s unfortunate group stage elimination at the tournament meant the suspension had to be carried on to the next official games, which incidentally happened to be the World Cup in Germany.  

    “The incident that happened – has happened a lot in football. Sometimes referees can take decisions and later on be like ‘wow, I was too harsh’,” the former Hearts of Oak and Heart of Midlothian man, said.

    “I realised what transpired between me and Habib Beye is nothing for which we should be sent off and banned for like three or four games. So immediately after the game, I confronted the management and told them to get the tape and watch.

    “Frankly, I did not watch it until [last March] when someone called me and told me it is being shown on GTV and that was the first time I saw that moment. But whatever happened is still fresh in my memory. [Back in 2006 after the game] I asked them [management] to get the tape, try to watch and appeal the decision to at least cut down the ban.

    “They did not follow up so for me I was very disappointed. They did not act fairly. If they had followed up and added a little effort, they could have reduced the ban.”

    Four years on after the 2006 episode, Kingston suffered another heartbreak, even more than the first as he would later reveal, as he was dropped when the preliminary squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was whittled down to 23.

    “The lowest point of my career will be when I was excluded from the national team, especially for the 2010 World Cup,” he said.

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    “Ahead of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, I was one of the players who played almost every game to qualify the country to the tournaments. In 2010, on the final day to move to the tournament in South Africa, I was asked to go home.

    “For me, it was a very big blow and up to today when I think about it or people talk about it, it weighs me down a lot. I think that would be the worst moment of my career.”

    Kingston represented Ghana at the 2008 Afcon, and helped the Black Stars claim bronze.

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