He might have been ditched by Kumasi Asante Kotoko earlier this year but new Black Stars assistant coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor is already proving to be an asset for the senior national team.
Known affectionately as “C.K”, Akonnor was already guaranteed respect when he walked into the Black Stars dressing room, given his great experience and his successes as both player and coach.
His time at Kumasi Asante Kotoko – his last coaching job before joining Kwesi Appiah’s technical team – was a short but ultimately successful one as he helmed the club’s success in the NC Special Competition.
His exit from the Kumasi club was controversial as he was replaced by Kjetil Zachariassen as coach before being offered a Technical Director job at the club, a position he rejected.
Black Stars assistant coaches have usually borne the brunt of the criticism for some of the team’s poor performances over the years given their hands-on work with the players, with Maxwell Konadu and Ibrahim Tanko being moved on to the local Black Stars and the Black Meteors respectively.
However, Akonnor appears to have started in some style in his new role.
A little more active than most assistant coaches on the touchline last night, Akonnor barked out instructions to the subs as they warmed up and was constantly in the ear of Kwesi Appiah, offering nuggets of wisdom to the head coach.
In the second half, with Ghana 1-0 up and searching for a second goal, CK approached Kwesi Appiah after observing play for a while.
Appiah was standing by the touchline giving some instructions to passing players when CK got his attention and spoke to him.
Having apparently got the coach’s approval, he returned to the technical area and approached the players who were warming up, including Kudus Mohammed.
He singled out the 19-year-old and spent a few minutes grilling him, obviously prepping him to come on and personally saw him through the rest of his warm-up.
After a few more words to the player, Kudus came in for Alfred Duncan and made his mark almost immediately, picking up the ball in midfield, striding forward, cutting onto his right foot and firing into the top corner.
Talk about making an instant impact!
After the game, Kwesi Appiah had some praise for Akonnor.
“For me, it’s the assistant coach that does most of the work. As a head coach sometimes your mind is all over the place. This is where you need the assistant to assess the game because he knows your gameplan.”
Thursday night was a night of the debutants but it appears that it was an experienced head that brought it all together.
For Kudus, Kwesi Appiah, CK Akonnor and the Black Stars, this could be the start of something very special.