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Sports Features of Sunday, 21 July 2013

Source: The Mirror

Why blame the coach?

The ritual of fans angrily pointing accusing fingers at coaches in the aftermath of unfavourable results assumed centre stage one more time this week.

After weeks of hype, capturing the desire of Asante Kotoko to win the FA Cup to make it double to signify their strength in the season, all was set for the moment of coronation. However, when it mattered most and the occasion called for the showing of championship stuff, Kotoko floundered and fell flat on their face at the feet of Medeama SC.

The 0-1 defeat handed the Porcupine Warriors by the Tarkwa-based club was predictably to give discontented fans of Kotoko more mud to fling at coach Mas-ud-Dramani. It was the perfect chance to rekindle the chorus for his removal.

But for kotoko’s triumph in the 2012/2013 Glo Premier League, I doubt whether Dramani would have been around to lead the club in the battle against Medeama. The answer is no, given the intensity of the campaign against him.

Victory in the FA Cup final would have been the greatest opportunity for him to silence his critics and, probably, keep his job. What happens next to Dramani is now a matter of conjecture.

From the bottom of my heart, I’m convinced that it’s unfair for anyone to call for the sack of the coach simply because Kotoko lost the FA cup to Medeama. The truth of the matter is that on the day in question, Kotoko’s game went to pieces as opposed to a side tactically superior in its approach and more hungry for conquest.

Kotoko started the match well and could have taken a two-goal lead mid-way in the first half had their attackers utilised their chances. They played as if there was nothing at stake. Arguably, the only real chance Medeama had was what fetched them victory on the day.

True, maybe Dramani should have found an answer to the uninspiring performance of his team, especially when the players appeared to be at sea for a greater part of the match.

That notwithstanding, it will be unfair to heap all the blame on the poor head of Dramani. If anything, the players should be blamed more for the mediocre stuff they exhibited.

For a club going to Africa in search of a third continental trophy, Kotoko, as a matter of urgency, must be seen to be producing a master act that is indicative of their readiness to take the continent by storm.

Maybe the truth has to be told again and again that winning the CAF Champions League now is no child’s play. It takes years of preparation and hard work to do that.

Al-Ahly, Zamalek, Esperance and T. P. Mazembe have been the front runners all these years because of sound planning and not simply because of sheer determination.

Again, let it be said in the clearest language that Kotoko can’t continue to sell its finest players season in, season out and yet hope to capture the commanding heights of continental football like they did in 1971 and 1983.

Things don’t work out like that in the world of serious football business today.

Buying players and selling them cheaply in no time to clubs in South Africa and Congo DR for the sake of coping with dire straits should not be seen as the best way to manage clubs. Other options steeped in modern marketing should be explored all the time.

The essence of keeping a squad for an appreciable period of time should not be lost on our clubs. If for nothing at all, they can’t discount how that impacts on them in terms of consistency, quality play and how it can draw the fans to matches.

At least, there is one thing I always remember. At a time when Kotoko were suffering from a crippling kind of low patronage, the coming of Eric Bekoe changed everything and how it drew crowds in their thousands to Kotoko matches.

The same magic worked earlier when Joe Debrah and the late Shamo Quaye played for Kotoko and Hearts of Oak. It can work today if we can avoid the tendency of selling half-baked stars to the exodus bandwagon.

Despite all the talk of satellite television having impacted negatively on our local league, I can confidently say that once we get our act together, by ensuring glamour and profound excitement in it, things can change dramatically.

It’s a pity that when Ghanaian clubs are expected to take to the sky in all majesty and take their place among the best on the continent, they feel content hovering around the periphery of glory.

It’s time they started thinking big to ameliorate their circumstances.