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Sports News of Monday, 10 December 2018

Source: primenewsghana.com

C.K Akonnor: From a fantastic footballer to a genius on the touchline

Ex-Ghana captain Charles Kwablan Akonnor born on 12 March 1974 in Accra is the head coach of Asante Kotoko and will be making his debut in African Club Competition as a coach on Saturday when his side takes on Kariobangi Sharks of Kenya.
There have been high and lows for C.K Akonnor as Primenewsghana.com profiles the journey so far for the Asante Kotoko gaffer.

Club Career:

Akonnor started his football career in Ghana with a Tema based side, Young Hearts of Tema between 1985 to 1987 before joining Former Ghana Premier League giants, Okwahu United in the 1988 league season to 1990 before joining Obuasi Ashanti Gold the then Obuasi Goldfields from 1990 to 1992.

Akonnor then went to Germany in 1992, along with friend and national teammate Samuel Kuffour who played for Bayern Munchen those days, Having played for six years with Fortuna Köln (all in the second division), he switched in 1998 to VfL Wolfsburg.

At Wolfsburg, the 41-year old quickly developed as a resourceful player and one of the teams' most important elements and, in 2001–02, was given team captaincy. However, at the start of the following season he was injured (a knee problem which required an operation in 2003), prompting a January 2004 move to SpVgg Unterhaching, in a second-level return.

In 2005 Akonnor moved to Denmark to play with AC Horsens, playing an important part in the team's consolidation in the Danish first division, where they had just arrived in the previous season.

The skilful winger played one final season in Cyprus' top flight, with Alki Larnaca FC. In Summer 2008 he left Cyprus and moved to Germany based club SC Langenhagen in the Oberliga Niedersachenliga-West. He played there until 18 February 2009 when he announced the end of his career.

International Career:

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A holder of 41 international caps, Akonnor was named the captain of the Black Stars following Abedi Pele's retirement and scored 12 goals for Black Stars. However, he would never be recalled again after applying for (and receiving) German citizenship.

Coaching Career

The former Wolfsburg skipper have already managed clubs like Sekondi Eleven Wise, Accra Hearts of Oak, Dreams FC and recently Obuasi Ashanti Gold before joining Asante Kotoko.

He joined capital giants Hearts Of Oak halfway into the 2012 season and steered them to a 3rd place finish in the top-flight, it was believed he had finally emerged from his cocoon and was ready to take on the world. Just 5 matches into the 2013 campaign, Akonnor was fired with the club a miserable 13th on the league table, boasting a solitary win from five games. It was a new low for ‘Slim Macho’, a dream curtailed even before it had begun.

Retreating from the limelight, Akonnor took up a low-pressure job at Right to Dream Academy that prioritized nurturing young talent over winning silverware. For a man of his ambition, though, it was only a matter of time before he returned to the dug-out with a competitive club. Dreams FC – then in Ghana’s Division One League – came calling in 2015 and he accepted the challenge. Akonnor’s brief was simple: get the club promoted to the Premier League.

He delivered, followed it up with a good season’s stint in the Premier League, only for the club to get demoted in the end despite a respectable mid-table finish – through no fault of his, let the records show.

Akonnor led another promotion charge for the Dawu outfit before quitting to join boyhood club Ashantigold with the nearly impossible task of guiding the 2015 champions to safety. Ashgold had suffered a shambolic start to the term that had seen them victorious in just two of their first 12 games, a run that culminated in the resignation of gaffer Bashir Hayford.

Ashantigold eventually survived relegation – miraculously, some argued, but that was all Akonnor’s work and later joined Asante Kotoko.

Kotoko are running rampant since he joined on the local scene is not the only testament to the virtues of hard-earned empiricism and the benefits of providing very decent players with a platform to revive ailing fortunes, but also to Akonnor’s shrewdness, a trait steadily built from a career of ill-fated decisions and what-ifs.

That said, Akonnor’s dreams are bigger than Asante Kotoko. He is in pursuit of greatness and, if Asante Kotoko would be patient with him, Akonnor’s ‘macho’ will mature in no time.

Akonnor now has the opportunity to officially begin his duties with the Kumasi-based side on Saturday, December 15, 2018, for the first time in his managerial career in African Club Competition and after the hype that surrounded his appointment, he is generally expected to do better than his predecessor.

British trainer Steven Polack was in charge of the Asante Kotoko side who got eliminated by DR. Congo’s CARA Brazzaville in the preliminary round of the 2018 Confederation Cup.

But for this season’s campaign the Porcupine Warriors are going with an indigenous coach – Charles Kwablan Akonnor – who wants his team to dominate possession in the First Round first leg away contest again Kenya’s Kariobangi Sharks – destroyed Djibouti’s Arta Sola7 by 9-1 on aggregate in the previous round.

"We’ve seen some videos of the Kenyan team and the best way to go against them is to have the ball" bold Akonnor said.

"We need to keep the ball more against them and I thinks that will be the approach,” Akonnor said after his team’s 3-0 win over Inter Allies.

Asante Kotoko have scored 8 times in their last four high profile friendly games against Medeama, WAFA, Inter Allies and the Ghana U-23 men’s team – all coming under the tenure of Akonnor.

Match : Kariobangi Sharks FC v Asante Kotoko SC

Venue : Moi International sports stadium

Date: 15 December 2018

Competition: 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup First round.