The management of Kumasi Asante Kotoko has suspended Coach Bashir Hayford ahead of the club's last CAF Confederation Cup group match against El-Merreikh in Khartoum this weekend, fuelling speculations that the coach is on his way out of the club.
Director of Communications, Kwame Baah-Nuako, told the Graphic Sports that the decision was taken as a result of gross indiscipline on the part of the coach.
He explained that after the 2-2 draw game against Etoile Sportive du Sahel in Kumasi last week, Hayford left unceremoniously for Tema to spend some days without informing management. On his return, Baah-Nuako said, management queried him but he was yet to respond to the query.
"Having left the team, management thought that it was not important to let the coach lead the team to Sudan", the communications director said.
Hayford has had a stormy relationship with management, manifesting in contract wrangles and other off-the-pitch accusations and counter accusations.
At the last meeting between management and the owner of the club, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace, Otumfuo charged management to find ways of settling all differences with the coach, but recent developments point to deepening strained relations.
Mr Baah-Nuako would not delve into whether the coach would be sacked, preferring only to say that at the end of the season (that is, after this weekend's match), management would sit down to review the technical direction of the club.
According to him, Kotoko would be entering the more competitive CAF Champions League next season and would have to organise themselves properly for the task ahead.
Mr Baah-Nuako said apart from the technical direction, management would also look into the playing body, as well as management's own direction, to put Kotoko in a better shape for the Champions League.
In the absence of Hayford, his assistant, Johnson Smith, leads Kotoko to Khartoum as they attempt to restore at least a bit of their pride.
The head-to-head rule puts Kotoko in a tight corner and they can only appease their fans with a win. But Kotoko need to carry a lot of firepower to The Sudan if they are to end the run of away defeats in the Confederation Cup.
Technically Asante Kotoko have been outwitted in their away matches, leaving their supporters wondering how the challenge could be overcome.
The Porcupine Warriors blew away a good chance of getting to the finals by drawing with Etoile in Kumasi in the penultimate match. And having paid the price for taking their foot off the pedal, only a victory over El-Merreikh could bring some smiles to the faces of the supporters.
In the first leg in Kumasi, Kotoko went through a torrid time before subduing the Sudanese champions 1-0. The Sudanase would surely seek revenge over Kotoko and a good match is expected on the day.
Kotoko would have the luxury of a full squad to fight for glory. On that score expect Samuel Inkoom, Godfred Yeboah, Osei Kwame and Ofosu Appiah to provide the needed cover for Soulama Abdoulai, in post.
An attack of Eric Bekoe, Kwabena Yaro and Osei Kuffuor should be strong enough to get the goals for Kotoko.
Story by Kwame Asare Boadu