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Soccer News of Friday, 14 February 2003

Source: Graphic Sports

Lions part ways with Afranie

THE long romance that has existed between Coach E. K. Afranie and sensational first division campaigners, Kpando Heart of Lions, has ended.

The end came late last month with the appointment of ex-Goldfields expatriate coach, Dutch Hans Van der Pluym, to the job to take Heart of Lions through the ongoing special first division league and beyond.

Heart of Lions Chief Executive and bank roller, Victor Ahiakpor, said he took the swift and firm decision after realising that Afranie had too much on his plate and could hardly concentrate on Heart of Lions.

But what perhaps precipitated Afranie's exit from the Lions job was the Coach-hene's alleged attempt to conceal his contractual obligation with the Kpando Club while in charge as caretaker coach of the national soccer team, Black Stars, and the U-23 Black Meteors.

He was reported to have said in an F.M. Radio programme recently that his “relationship with Heart of Lions was temporary and I have no written agreement with them.”

To this, Mr. Victor Ahiakpor felt Afranie was being economical with the truth as he claimed Heart of Lions had a contract with the Coach-hene whom they paid a good salary regularly with other fringe benefits, including a luxurious landcruiser vehicle.

"We have treated Coach Afranie very well, and as a gesture of goodwill we even replaced his damaged personal 'Opel Omega car'which was beyond repairs after his recent accident.

But after the unfortunate utterances he made on air, there was the need for us to take a firm decision on the future of our club and coach Afranie," the Hearts of Lions boss said.

It will be recalled that Coach Afranie was working as coach of Heart of Lion when he was invited to handle the Black Stars after the sudden exit of Yugoslav Milan Zivadinovic.

Afranie had since tried to handle both jobs at the national team and at Kpando Heart of Lions with the fringe benefits at both teams to boot.

When contacted, coach Afranie expressed shock at the decision since no such information had been communicated to him yet by the management of the club.

He was, however, happy that the decision to dispense with his services was due to his commitment to a national cause other than anything negative on his part.

He noted that though nobody gave him notice of what was to come, certain events which occurred prior to it were enough signal of what was to come.

Coach Afranie explained that though he stayed for almost a year with the team as the technical director until two days to kick-off for the Division One League, he was denied access to the team's dressing room during the opening league match with Mighty Royals.

"And only last Thursday at the Accra Stadium when I sought to have a word with the players during recess of the Heart of Lions - Khalid match, I was again refused by the Dutch coach", he stressed.

He revealed that when he was appointed interim coach of the Black Stars, he was mandated by the Chief Executive of the club to look for a head coach to hold the fort in his absence. "But unfortunately, I could not get any, but still believed that assistant coach Archibald Lamptey could hold the fort".

According to him, all he heard next was that Van der Plym had been appointed as the head coach of the club.

Coach Afranie was, however, proud to have built a formidable team out of nothing within such a short period of time and wished the team well to qualify for the premiership as was his dream as the technical director of the side.

He spoke highly of Mr. Ahiakpor and thanked him for his support during his stay with the club.