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Why Asante Kotoko’s gamble on Duncan seems to have backfired

The headline for this article could be termed misleading and indeed I run the risk of being called a mischief-maker, but I will explain why I chose this particular headline.

The background sounds simple but is anything but.

Mas-Ud Dramani had won two successive league trophies for Asante Kotoko and actually won the club’s first ever league and cup double last season.

The Porcupine Warriors began the season in indifferent form and all of a sudden, Dramani was being blamed for being stale, not getting the best out of his players and generally lowering his standards.

One would have thought that Dramani would have been given enough time to steady the ship, but the Asante Kotoko hierarchy thought otherwise and put him on gardening leave.

David Duncan was then brought in as the head coach.

Don’t get me wrong, but I rate David Duncan as a coach and I think he has been unlucky not to have won the Premier League title.

Indeed, he came very close with Ashanti Gold before losing out to Aduana Stars in 2010.

He has since presided over Asante Kotoko’s elimination from the CAF Champions League and decidedly poor form in the Premier League.

Perhaps the only saving grace is the fact that the club is still in the MTN FA Cup and Elite Cup competitions, but the highly expectant Kotoko fans will tell you that they expect to win the title every season.

At the moment, even though it is still mathematically possible, it does not look like it is happening.

The losses to Heart of Lions and New Edubiase United have proven particularly damaging and Asante Kotoko is in the bottom half; not a situation the club’s bigwigs would have envisaged with Duncan’s arrival.

For me, this just highlights the terrible decisions that have been taken in the club’s history.

For instance, when Abdul Razak won Asante Kotoko’s first league title in 10 years in 2003, he was fired at the end of that season and the club floundered.

The same occurred for Bashir Hayford after he led the club to the title in 2008. Again the club foundered and did not win the title again until Maxwell Konadu took over.

There had been relative stability until Dramani was pushed out.

I am reminded of Jurgen Klopp’s woes at Borussia Dortmund.

The club endured a horrific spell in the first half of the Bundesliga and were bottom by Christmas.

The Dortmund board refused to sack Klopp and instead backed him.

Klopp was able to bring the club back to seventh at the end of the season and defeated Bayern Munich on his way to the DFB Pokal final.

This was a man who had won two Bundesliga titles with the club and had taken them to the 2013 UEFA Champions League final.

So the club decided to stick with him and when he eventually announced that he was leaving the club after seven years, he was afforded a dignified farewell.

That is how it should be, but in Ghana, stability is becoming more and more of a foreign word, with club officials prone to take snap decisions that in the long run will not pay and that is what has happened to Asante Kotoko.

If the club does not retain the league title, then some serious questions would have to be asked as to whether it was the right decision to let Dramani go.

The same accusation could be leveled at Duncan for not getting the best out of the big names at the club.

Of course, if he is able to orchestrate a turn around, he will be commended, but one senses that failure to win the title would mean increasing pressure on the officials to bid him farewell.

Indeed, any more losses for the club, or failure to win could deepen the mini crisis within the club and for me, the move to sack Dramani and bring in Duncan may have backfired spectacularly.

It is the latest installment of an interesting soap opera, but the difference is that it could all end in tears, instead of joy.


By Christopher Opoku

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