Blame Kotoko CEO for team's faults
"We want a new CEO! We want a new CEO!"
Those were from thousands of angry Kotoko fans screaming at the end of another disappointing foray into continental football this weekend. Journalist Godfred Akoto-Boafo of Citi FM writes that he cannot blame them much.
Kotoko’s 1-1 draw against a savvy JSM Bejaia team this past weekend at the Baba Yara Stadium meant elimination - and deserved in my opinion because the current team is simply not good enough.
This, despite the rhetoric the management of the club has been feeding its fans about the quality of players on the books of the Porcupine Warriors.
I sounded alarm bells even after the club’s impressive 8-1 aggregate win over Sony Ela Nguema in the first round.
The cracks were all too obvious even in the face of a naïve opponent who made far too many errors: the lack of cohesion, the inability to convert simple chances and a general lack of quality in personnel in vital areas of the pitch.
It meant Kotoko was always going to have problems in a second round full of good teams. Head coach Mashud Didi Dramani says a lack of concentration was to blame.
"We did our very best but at the end of the day it boiled down to a lack of concentration. Hard luck for us."
It's KK's fault!
Lack of concentration? More like a lack of planning, urgency, technical ability and focus. Masud’s position is a thankless one.
Fans have criticized his tinkering of the squad and his emphasis on complex technical talk and tactics. In my experience coaches start tinkering when they are not comfortable with the materials available or their response to coaching.
And this is where I think the club's chief executive, Dr. Kofi Kodua Sarpong needs to own up to the fans and admit his fire sale tendencies have failed.
"Mo nim bo a, yen nso ye nim hwe". Roughly translated from the Akan tongue: "If you know how to play we know how to watch."
That's been the motto, mantra and philosophy of the former Tema Oil Refinery boss on player policy since he took over administrative duties at Kotoko.
The C.E.O’s philosophy that every player is for sale is not a new one, neither is it a bad one. After all in this day of low gates and sponsors, how is one expected to run a football club?
His error came in not balancing the sale with the club’s ambition of re-establishing itself as a continental force and the foolhardy assumption that the champions league would be easy enough no matter who wore the famous red jersey.
Club captain and last season MVP Daniel Nii Adjei was sold. Yaw Frimpong, Baba Abdul Rahman, Nathaniel Asamoah, Awal Mohammed and Ben Acheampong were also sold.
This meant the club has systematically weakened itself over the past year and a half.
No disrespect to their replacements but most of them have simply not been good enough.
Even Rashid Sumaila has been disappointing, having been shorn off his trademark pace and physicality by a knee injury. Which of Dr. Sarpong's new recruits can he honestly say has improved the quality of this current squad?
Prosperity, yes. Domination, no
Dr. Sarpong has ushered in an era of some prosperity off the pitch but fans had long wanted a long run in Africa’s premier competition to signal their return to the fold of esteemed clubs.
For years they had been forced to watch as equals like TP Mazembe, Al Ahly and Esperance became superiors and even local rivals Berekum Chelsea had a run to be proud of last season.
Those dreams will have to wait another year and that is only if Kotoko win the league.
The fans better pray their erudite CEO doesn’t decide on another free market sale of the talent who have learnt harsh lessons this season.
They might be battle hardy next time around.
For now Dr. K.K Sarpong should quietly suffer the ire of his fans, most of whom have been disregarded during his tenure. This elimination is solely in his laps and no one else.
Fans deserve to make calls for a new CEO even if that wish will not come true anytime soon.