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Sports Features of Friday, 25 August 2017

Source: Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang

Feature: Konadu, the brutally vilified assistant coach

Maxwell Konadu Maxwell Konadu

You have got to feel for Maxwell Konadu at this moment. He has been the most vilified and lampooned person in the Ghanaian football space over the last few days following Ghana’s failure to qualify for a second successive CHAN tournament.

For a man who is only the assistant coach, one wonders why the vitriolic comments in his direction is not as incessant as the ones directed at the Head of the technical team, James Akwasi Appiah. I had the opportunity to speak to the Management Committee Chair of the team, Nene Komiete Doku, on my programme last Monday (Grandstand) on Class91.3FM and he was more than emphatic on the role of Konadu. Hear him: “As far as I’m aware, as the head of the management team, Maxwell is only the assistant coach of the team. He has never been the head coach of the team at least since I was handed the reigns of management.” Question thus arises over why gaffer Appiah has rarely been mentioned in this discourse and why the loud calls for his assistant to be fired or forced to resigned.

In truth, Konadu has been around for a while, serving with Avram Grant and twice under Appiah. For his loud critics, he is solely to blame for the Rwandan fiasco of 2016 by choosing to travel for an inconsequential friendly tie in North America. That he chose the niceties of that trip over a more important game against the Ivorians clearly showed where his allegiances lay as far as the fortunes of the nation is concerned. In this particularly case though, the myriad of allegations seem multifaceted.

Firstly, though technically the first assistant to coach Appiah for the B team, he has virtually been in charge of the team from call ups to training programmes in the absence of his boss who has been in the United States of America and other parts of the world monitoring a large pool of payers to be considered for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Congo in just under a fortnite. He obviously knows the lads on the local scene a lot better with his boss barely in the country the last three years.

My understanding from the little I have personally monitored and from my conversations with some key personnel is that the head coach, though has oversight responsibility, was keen on his assistant taking on a lot more responsibility per his familiarity with the local lads and only advise on a few tactical dispositions. His critics believe Konadu failed to take advantage of this.

The argument about his call ups would ramble on just like in any football space. Not everyone can be happy with national team call ups anywhere in the world. The worry though was the very loud noises from especially the camp of the Phobians who were upset with his decision to ignore the exploits of some of their players. They simply cannot comprehend why the likes of Akrofi, Atinga and Abbey were ignored on match days.

Indeed, Abbey was only introduced when the side was down last Sunday and a more physical Atinga they believe could have effectively dealt with the Burkina attack than Ahmed Adam and Nuhu. Some of these fans have even suggested that the manager has deliberately called up Kotoko players by virtue of his past association with the team and is also serving as an intermediary agent for some of these boys. For them, it was unthinkable to have even allowed the Chairman of Kotoko Kwame Kyei that much access especially in Burkina Faso which only showed his biases for the Reds.

Furthermore, his tactical acumen, which have been questioned by many who only believe his roles are due to his relationship with some big shots was further brought to the fore with his decision to play Twum to complement Saddick Adams in the return leg. Twum has barely played as a deep offensive player not to talk of playing directly behind the lead striker. Adams barely scores from open play and was out of sorts on Sunday. The decision to play Waja and Cobbinah in front of the back four even with variations has also been criticised as both barely provided any protection for the back four last Sunday.

I may disagree with some of the assertions above especially the bit with the quality in the league. I’m not too sure if the fans were making these same statements after the first leg. The quality in the league in my opinion can be better but it is definitely not that bad. Managers are paid to take decisions at the national level and it is up to them to call up the best available materials on match days. They could get it horribly wrong with their selection which does not then make the league that poor overnight.

Konadu has vowed to stay on the job and has discarded the thought of resigning from the technical space but he will be the first to admit that failing to meet the KPI’s of your employers could be tantamount to a dismissal or being forced to resign. These are very difficult times for the assistant gaffer and the coming days and weeks would definitely tell what the next line of action would be from the man himself or the football association. The pressure is now on for the group to make a strong impression at the WAFU tournament.

I do not know what he has to do to win over these critics. For them, he has been there long enough and has failed to make any laudable impression. I feel for him to be honest.

Thanks for reading this piece.

The writer is Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang, Sports Editor at Class 91.3, Accra. You can reach on via twitter @DwomohKwame1 and on Facebook at Kwame Dwomoh Agyemang.You can also reach him by phone on 0244-623166.