Dramani under pressure
They are only four points from the top, but despite losing only once in the 13 game old league season, Kotoko fans are already showing signs a loss of confidence in their manager, Mas-Ud Didi Dramani, according to Fiifi Anaman.
Kotoko go into match day 14 of the Glo Premier League in fourth, with 22 points. Their only loss was against league leaders Berekum Chelsea at the Golden City Park, where two goals not only ended Kotoko’s unbeaten run, but also scrapped off the remnants of the sugar coating that the unbeaten run had formed over their deep lying problems.
Their problems have come in the form of goal scoring crises, resulting in draws which have in turn caused them to drop fourteen points alone this season.
Coach Dramani only took over in medias res , two games into the season due to national team duties.
He has since gone on to win five games, whilst drawing five and losing once. That would normally not be a bad record, but fans expectations, which rose, and continues to rise astronomically due to Kotoko’s title winning campaign last season. Simply put, it means that this record could cost him his job.
Making a case
Against RTU in midweek - a game they won 3-2 - the reds started the game poorly, finding it difficult to hold on to the ball and find their rhythm.
They got into the game later on in the first half, with a reward coming in the form of a Richard Mpong strike. They however lost their concentration, conceding an equalizer which only went on to aggravate the fans’ fears.
At a point in the game, the fans were convinced, as per Kotoko’s lackluster showing, that another draw was on the cards. Coach Dramani could be seen barking orders amidst passionate gesticulations on the touchline, trying desperately to mobilize his charges to avoid yet another draw.
His classic Barca-style 4-3-3 seemed to be failing due to Kotoko’s conspicuous hesitation with the ball. Lots of misplaced passes characterized the showing, with the few that made breakthroughs ending up wasted in front of goal - Nti Boakye shockingly missed a one-on-one.
Fans would have at least been comfortable if the game had ended 3-1, but it rather ended amidst nervy moments. RTU pulled a goal back through a Hassan Mohamed free header – a hit that exposed a rare moment of weakness in the Ohene Brenya - Rashid Sumaila partnership.
RTU looked like they could actually get an equalizer, until the referee blew his final whistle.
Fans left the stadium in a mixture of relief and insecurity, as one who spoke proved: "I’m glad we were able to win after last week’s disappointment in Berekum but honestly, this team is not in good shape. I think our coach is not good. Tell me, what significant achievement does he have on his cv? I’m beginning to doubt his competence!"
That fan was apparently not alone. On Thursday, there were rife reports that some fans in the top brass of the club’s supporters union (the Circles) had lobbied the board to call an emergency meeting to discuss Coach Dramani’s performance.
News broke that the majority of the fans wanted him out, which as expected became a talking point in the local media. “How many games has he (Didi Dramani) lost since taking over? Just one. He hasn’t done anything to merit the sack,” Alhaji Karim Gruzah, owner and bankroller of Kotoko’s city rivals King Faisal, whom they play on Sunday, told Accra based Happy FM.
The argument about the track record though, is flawed, especially given that coach Maxwell Konadu similarly had no major achievement before taking over the helm at Kotoko - he went on to win them the league.
Coach Dramani, whose only major achievement is winning bronze at the FIFA Under 17 Women’s championship, was selected by the Kotoko board as a relatively unknown candidate to succeed Konadu. “We are confident he will deliver. We therefore call on our teeming fans to give him the needed support as was accorded Maxwell [Konadu],”Kotoko Public relations officer Listowel Bukardson had told the press after his appointment.
Clearly, this decision was thought through, and by their words at least, the management of the Porcupine warriors had complete confidence in the former Guan United gaffer.
Back to the background
Kotoko were in a delicate situation, which was that they had to deal with a potentially compromising transition right after a successful season. The new coach coming in was going to have to deal with juggling building a new side as well as meeting expectations of a league title defense and a decent Champions League run.
Ex-coach Maxwell Konadu chose to take on the role of assistant coach of the national team permanently, thus leaving the champions managerless. The CAF Champions League -which has been a priority of the board and fans for a long time – beckoned, and Kotoko had very little time to find a new coach.
The 46-year old Didi Dramani came in highly recommended, despite not exactly being as accomplished. He is a hub of immense football theoretical knowledge, having pursued countless courses and certificates in coaching, including the highly coveted UEFA license A).
In fact, he worked with the Ghana Football Association, despite being relatively young and inexperienced, as a coaching instructor, with some of his students all being current coaches of many Premier League clubs. Perhaps, Kotoko were eager to explore how his knowledge would translate practically, after seeing encouraging glimpses via his exploits with the women’s Under 17 team. Kotoko is his first major test at a top club, after coaching Guan United (a division 1 club he helped found) and Right to Dream Academy.
"I think people really do not know Dramani well and that is why some may be right in raising questions,” Francis Oti Akenteng, technical director of the GFA, said after he was appointed, amidst fears he was not tried and tested.
"Believe me, he is one of the finest young coaches in the country. He is tactically good and knows the job very well. He has gradually emerged as a semi-instructor for the FA and anyone who has sat in his class will tell you about his ability and technical know-how of the game."
It remains to be seen if the board will kowtow to the fans’ rather hasty demands. From all indications, Mas-Ud Dramani has not even started yet at Kotoko, and per what he has achieved despite the situation he finds himself, as well as his untapped rich potential, it’s fair to point out that he deserves every bit of the benefit of the doubt.