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Sports Features of Wednesday, 6 January 2016


5 things from the Kotoko friendly with FK Jagodina

After Kumasi Asante Kotoko’s 5-0 outshining of European side FK Jagodina, a lot have been written and said about the opposition the Fabulous family met last Sunday.

Many are those who lambasted the Porcupine Family for disgracing the Red jersey as well as the flag of Ghana whilst others insist that the organizers must rather take the swipe.

Well, I have a different opinion. I am not sparking controversy but I must admit I made some notes before, during and after the game. I think the organizers did well but certain things simply did not go right.

Below are five things I saw with regards to organization, the standard of the game and the game itself.

The resilience of the match organizers: I must commend the match organizers for doing everything possible to ensure that the match is staged at all cost. I think readers will remember that the long-awaited international friendly started with Sevilla and Athletico Madrid of Spain before trickling down to Romania for FC Petrolul and Veria FC of Greece respectively, which also failed before landing the ‘saviour’ FK Jagodina. Kudos to the organizers for relentlessly making sure that the anniversary game was played beyond all reasonable doubts. At least I commend them for that consistency. It means that Kotoko have a sponsor that has links with European clubs and any little better planning will see a top European side next time in Ghana to play the Porcupine Warriors. But …! I know you have been waiting for the ‘but’. But the fact that the match must be played at all cost did not mean that any side at all must come to Ghana and play our ‘local’ champion. I am tempted to believe that the organizers begged Jagodina to fly down to Ghana to honour the game. It beats my imagination as to why a professional European side should travel to Ghana with only 11 players and two backroom staff, whose names are not even found on the official staff list of Jagodina. How is this possible? So regardless of the fact that I tap the organizers on the shoulder for not cancelling the long awaited 80th Anniversary Cup match, I think the preparation of the opponents for the Porcupine Warriors was not up to the scratch. Going forward, I think the organizers must take into consideration the Kotoko brand and the fact that football is the passion of the nation to get a better opposition.
The disrespect of FK Jagodina: I commend journalists in the football industry for pointing out to the organizers and to Asante Kotoko that Jagodina had disrespected Ghana as a country for presenting only 10 outfield players and one goalkeeper for the game. The question I have been asking myself is; will FK Jagodina present only 11 players if they were supposed to play against another side in Europe or South America or even Asia. This is total disrespect to Ghana football and the organizers must be blamed for that. What did they tell Jagodina before they came to Ghana? What did Jagodina know about Asante Kotoko? … and what did they know about Ghana football. Granted that Ghana is ‘so small’ a country that Jagodina did not know about, at least they know we met at the World Cup in South Africa and they also know that Milovan Rajevac and Ratomir Dujkovic have once been our coaches. So for them to have travelled all the way from Serbia to Ghana with only 11 players and no recognized technical staff member of the club, is a great disrespect to Ghana football. To worsen the situation, Jagodina hired the services of Asante Kotoko famous supporter B.A Yahaya as the assistant team manager as well as Akwesi Stephen as their assistant coach whose names were found on their team sheet. They again hired six local players Abubakar Awudu, Brooklyn Kusi, Razak Adams, Moses Pernor, Osman Faisal and Ebenezer Agyapong from Ghana’s second tier sides to beef their squad for the game. If this is what Jagodina had in mind for Kotoko, then it would have been better if Kotoko had played Asokwa Deportivo or Kotoko Supporters XI in the game. Wait till your father gets 80 years and you will see how it feels when someone disrespects him.
Suspicion of betting: Of all the comments that I have read, it seems to me most strange that none is pointing out the issue of match fixing and betting for the benefit of the organizers. Former Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. O.B Amoah said in an interview that the match must be investigated by the Ghana Football Association for its unusual nature. An European side travels to Ghana and is beaten by 5-0 and that ends it? I don’t believe this. If you care to know, the organizers of the match are a soccer betting company that is sponsoring Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Superbet is the main organizer of the game and even before Jagodina came down to play Kumasi Asante Kotoko, the Porcupine Warriors had taken half of their appearance fees. Could that be the reason why the organizers had to manage to bring ‘any’ team to honour the game because of the personal benefits? If that is not the case, then someone should please tell me why a team from Serbia to play a game in Ghana can travel without boots and jerseys? My goodness!!! I strongly suspect that the betting company stands to gain from the score line of the game and might have influenced it in a way by just bringing Jagodina with such a depleted side. I think the powers that be, that is the Ghana Football Association must take a closer look at events again and investigate this game. Ghana cannot take this embarrassment. We deserve better and Kotoko deserves better.
History has been made: Yes history has been made. Asante Kotoko is the first Ghanaian club to have succeeded in playing an European club in the country climaxing it with an excellent result. History has been made. I now understand why football journalists in Serbia are seriously angry with Jagodina for embarrassing their country by losing with such a huge margin. Well they can say whatever they want, Kotoko has made history and Ghana has made history.
Kotoko fans and their management: Time and again, the Opoku Nti-led management has taken all the swipe for the way and manner they are handling the club by a section of the media and some of the club’s own fans. The fans over the years, especially from last year’s CAF Champions League game with MC El Eulma at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, have lost the love and desire they had for the club. They needed something to change their perceptions about the club and win their loves back. But when the Porcupine turned around to strike, it was just a mere rat. I think the love and perceptions of the fans have been jeopardized completely. The fans deserved better. Ghana deserved better. Krobea Asante deserved better. It is however good that the Communications Manager of the club Kwaku Ahenkorah has openly apologised to the entire supporters of the club for the way things went.
In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.

Maybe we can better the wrongs next time. Faabu, the best!!!