Ghana assistant coach Kwesi Appiah admits the coaching staff has to work hard at keeping Black Stars players focused on their Nations Cup qualifier against Congo as the hype around the friendly international against England dominates the front pages.Appiah will travel with coach Goran Stevanovic and the rest of the technical team to Nairobi on Sunday for training with the players ahead of their Group I Nations Cup qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville on March 27th.And Appiah is in no doubt what the priority will be. “The public talk may be that of the friendly, but it is our job as the technical team to keep reminding the players during the training period that the three points are far more crucial than anything.“We will be building team spirit and working on our approach for the Congo game but reminding them of how important it is will be a part of it.”Appiah knows that Brazzaville game has major implications for the Ghana and is delighted with the form of many key players in the build up to that.“It is important that Tagoe is scoring goals, and many of the players are in good form so it bodes well for us.” He is also pleased with the inclusion of young players like David Addy, Daniel Opare and Nathaniel Asamoah and says the competition their presence brings in the national team is good.“The coach is keen to give as many players as possible the opportunity and I think calling up Opare and Asamoah proves that. Asamoah’s case shows that if you do well, you can get your chance at the high level.“Sometimes you don’t call players to necessarily play them but you call players to give them a feel of what it is like to be in that sort of environment and being there will benefit all of them massively.”Source: Michael Oti Adjei/Kickoff.com
Still, there seems to be some sort of reluctance on New York’s part to go all-in on free agency now. While the team should have eyes toward the future and wanting to keep its core around — Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, Gleyber Torres are the big three who have yet to be paid big bucks — the window to win a title is now.If Gerrit Cole gets the Photoshop and dinner treatment, then the team shouldn’t let him leave the restaurant without signing a contract. At 29 years old, even an eight-year deal shouldn’t scare the Yankees away. The same can be said about any of the starting pitchers on the market, including Strasburg and Wheeler. If the Yanks are serious about winning like they once were, then payroll flexibility and the excuse of future contracts shouldn’t get in the way.Cashman at the GM meetings said, yes, he will be talking to Scott Boras this winter about Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. But he also mentioned the heavy payroll commitments for next season and opportunities that could become available via the trade market. Very, very early…— Erik Boland (@eboland11) November 12, 2019Starting pitching wasn’t the reason they lost in the ALCS, but when you’re throwing together a bullpen day in an elimination game on the road, maybe it should be a priority. The Yankees have “checked in” regarding Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler so far, among others, GM Brian Cashman said.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) November 14, 2019While the Yankees’ starting pitching wasn’t the reason they were ousted in the ALCS, starting pitching has been something of an unsolvable equation for the Yankees in prior seasons. The franchise has seemed more preoccupied with finding controllable starters on cheap deals over the past three or four seasons (Sonny Gray, James Paxton).The recruitment of Cole begin with now-former Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia, who said on his podcast that he and Cole have talked extensively about pitching in New York.”If you offer that motherf—er enough money, he’s gonna want to come here (to New York),” Sabathia said with a laugh. “I’m speaking from experience.”Rapid reaction: “Checking in” shouldn’t be good enough for the Yankees — or their fans.While the Yankees used to go big-game hunting, recent years have revealed the Bombers and their front office have been more willing to go the “creative” route than the big-money route. The last few times the Yankees opened up the checkbook for a free-agent starting pitcher, it worked out pretty well — CC Sabathia helped bring the Yankees their 28th championship ring, while Masahiro Tanaka has been one of the best postseason pitchers they’ve had, despite being up and down during the regular season.MORE: How the Yankees need to attack their offseason The Yankees are going big-game hunting. Maybe.General manager Brian Cashman reportedly says the Yankees have “checked in” on free agent starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and Stephen Strasburg.