21.02.2004 Sports News

Land Mine For Local Coaches?

By Mirror
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In spite of the grandeur attached to the coaching job of Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, the terrain appears to be turning into a land mine for local coaches.

By a whirlpool of events they could hardly control, coaches have been cast out by the two big clubs in the past few years, although Kotoko's turnover makes that of Hearts look mild.

Compared with just the two coaches — Jones Attuquayefio and Herbert Addo — who have handled Hearts since 1999, Ibrahim Sunday, Abubakar Ouattara, Christopher Darkey, Ernst Middendorp, Ian Porterfield, Ralf Zumdick and Abdul Razak answer the roll-call of Kotoko.

In the case of Kotoko, it is interesting to note that Middendorp and Porterfield left in a blaze of controversy while Zumdick exited of his own volition.

Middendorp took exception to the setting up of the P.V. Obeng-led board during the Herbert Mensah administration, saying it was a system he wasn't prepared to work under.

This single act of irreverence spoke volumes about the man's mindset. The least said about how the walls of Jericho crumbled around Potterfield, the better. It is interesting to relate, however, that all the local coaches hired during the Herbert Mensah administration, starting with the high profile Ibrahim Sunday, were fired for non-performance.

The removal early this week of Herbert Addo by the Hearts board, palpably for non-performance, as well as the earlier exiting of Abdul Razak from the Kotoko technical bench on account of supporter revolt, so to speak, only amplify what high risk the coaching of the two big teams by locals entails.

It is difficult to understand why so many Ghanaian football fans seem to have developed a preference for expatriate coaches who are perceived to have the magic wand for achieving results.

This affinity certainly hasn't developed out of nothing. It is a feeling that has largely evolved out of a comparison between the performance of local coaches and their expatriate counterparts.

Although the engagement of expatriate coaches is not a new phenomenon, it is assuming a dimension that points to the possibility of expatriate coaches handling almost all Premier league clubs in the immediate future. Clubs which will not be without them will be so because they can't afford to pay them, but not because they will prefer local coaches to foreign ones.

In the past clubs like Kotoko, Goldfields and Hearts benefited from the services of foreign coaches, but Heart of Lions and King Faisal having joined the exclusive circle of expatriate coaches —hiring clubs, a new trend may have begun.

One wonders what will become of our local coaches if they continue to lose face among their own people simply because they can't measure up to great expectations. Honestly, I am always at a loss to understand why some of the finest coaches we have in the system like Kwasi Afranie, Sam Arday, Ibrahim Sunday and Herbert Addo have not enjoyed great stints with our local clubs.

Maybe only the biblical dictum that "no Prophet is accepted in his own country" can explain this. Or maybe what is happening is a reflection of the Ghanaian's taste for everything foreign. Since it won't be possible for our clubs to hire foreign coaches till the end of time, we will have no choice than to develop the needed confidence in our own people.

Of course that will have to go in tandem with good performance on the part of local coaches. The local coaches will have to avail themselves of opportunities to broaden their horizon through refresher courses from time to time.

Kotoko in 1970 and 1983 won the clubs championship trophy with local coaches, Goldfields got to the final of the maiden edition of the CAF Champions League in 1997 with a local coach and Hearts won it in 2000 with a local coach. In view of this, the picture need not be that gloomy about the home-brewed stuff.

Since the game today has gone scientific and it's all about results, local coaches would have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they are not to be swept away by a tidal wave that is propelled by a demand for foreign coaches.

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