By Samuel Owusu-Ansah

“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning moments. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It’s about laying the groundwork for others’ success and then standing back and letting them shine.” Chris Hadfield.

We have been here before, a cynical situation that encapsulates a lack of spark, dynamism and disposition. The manner in which issues unfold in the sold-called big clubs in Ghana is demystifying. The natural stimulus that convoys them has hit its lowest ebb. Nothing is working out, from managerial astuteness through player recruitment to launching an indefatigable assault on trophies.

Quite bizarrely, no Ghanaian club has been able to qualify into the Group Stage christened ‘Money Zone’ of the CAF Champions League well over a decade. Conversely, the last time Kotoko and Hearts of Oak qualified for the CAF Confederations Cup brought good tidings. They went all the way with Hearts winning the ultimate in Kumasi at Kotoko’s expense.

Inexplicably, minnows Barrack Young Controllers in the preliminary round humiliated Asante Kotoko by knocking them out. Who would have thought a Liberian club founded in 1997 and playing at mere 2,500 capacity venue could carve such a niche? Yet, somehow, Kotoko managed to lose by playing some of the abysmal football the club had ever seen.

The most recent one is the capitulation at the hands of CARA of Congo Brazzaville. The pairing seemed innocuous, but the result was flattering. At the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Kotoko conspicuously squandered three penalties out of a possible four.

Eventually, the referee awarded five penalties in that game. A record only shared with Crystal Palace vs. Brighton & Hove Albion on 27 March 1989. Within 27mins, Referee Kelvin Morton had awarded five penalties during the Crystal Palace vs. Brighton & Hove Albion match. Crystal Palace missed three of their four penalties, while Brighton and Hove Albion scored from their only penalty. Palace eventually won the match 2-1.

Kotoko lost the return leg by a goal to nil before succumbing to 6-7on penalties. Notably though, they wasted four more via the spot in this tie making it seven penalty misses in 180 minutes of football. Bravura!

Hearts of Oak lady fan enjoying the game with her rainbow coloured shades - PHOTO by Images Image
Hearts of Oak lady fan enjoying the game with her rainbow coloured shades – PHOTO by Images Image
Hearts of Oak have had their share of the spoils. The self-acclaimed ‘Continental Club Masters’ dispatched teams en route to the 2000 CAF Champions League before annihilating Esperance de Tunis in the finals.
The third time a club from Ghana after Kotoko’s honours in 1970 and 1982.

The team boasted the heralded ’64 Battalion’ including the-tormentor-in-chief Ismael Addo, Dada Don Bortey, Charles ‘The Terror’ Taylor and ‘The General’ OseiKuffour. On their day, they were virtually unplayable, unmatchable and untouchable.

Fast-forward 2017 and the picture look dark and gloomy. No style! No swagger! No guise! I’m befuddled. Hearts produced some of the best players in the country, but enigmatically four of them left for pastures new for free. Winful Kobina, Kwame Kizito, Thomas Abbey have left. Vincent Atinga and Razak are wandering for new challenges.

Their coach, Frank Nuttal is said to have been the catalyst for the mass exodus of players from the club. Meanwhile, the club knew from the onset what they wished for. This is a coach who has connections with a Football Agency and instead of Hearts utilizing the opportunities; he rather exploited Hearts of Oak and capitalized on the loopholes.

Plausibly, Hearts have summarily dismissed their coach for unsavoury comportment. This behavior cannot be tolerated in any professional setting. In other dispensations, the coach would have faced the full rigours of the law. How fortunate?

Kotoko on the other hand, made a sacrificial lamb out of Steve Polack and showed him the exit for not qualifying Kotoko into the ‘Money Zone’. It is very unfortunate to put him in front of the death row to hide the problems in the club. The least said, the better.

If that is not a travesty of justice, then someone has to explain to the vociferous supporters how the misfiring strikers have been left off the hook at the expense of a highly committed and dedicated coach. The cracks in the team are entrenched and cannot be placed at the doorsteps of an individual.

The clubs are not short of extrinsic motivation yet performance and results have been lacklustre. These clubs are bigger than any individual. The only thing that can conciliate the teeming supporters is to bring the winning mentality and annex laurels unceremoniously.

Having played seven CAF Champions League finals, Kotoko was officially named ‘African Club of the Century’ by the International Football Federation of History and Statistics (IFFHS) in 2010 and quite rightly so. Nothing more, nothing less.

Evidently, Kotoko has been wallowing in mediocrity and priding themselves and patting their backs with a meager two wins while Al Ahly, Zamalek and TP Mazembe continuously dictate the pace in Africa. They have 8, 5 and 5 wins respectively.

The leadership of the two biggest clubs in Ghana needs to wake up from their slumber. Time is at premium. The stakes are so high and the demands are daunting. History is on their side to turn things around. It is a matter of how not when.

“Wo kum apem a, apem beba”. “Never say die, until the bones are rotten” are popular maxims that should energize these clubs to find their form and class. Management might have to change. Players must be sold and replaced.Principles and discipline must be installed.

Paa Kwesi Fabian is back to the fold of Kotoko after an eight years hiatus, a self-proclaimed sabbatical leave. Hearts of Oak would have to find an astute technical team. Sacrifices would have to be made to remove the peccadillo in the air. Something got to give.Need I say anything more?

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