PREPARING FOR AFRICA
Kojo Addae Mensah
Posted on: Thu Jul 12, 2012
Ghana’s most successful club. That is the tag we have held onto for a while now and for a long time.
We used to laugh at our perennial rivals that they called themselves continental club masters yet they had nothing to show for it. Today the tables have turned and we are the ones being laughed at that all we can show are colonial trophies and nothing in the modern era.
We have never won the new format; CAF champion’s league and these days it is killing me more and more. We must do something about it and K.K Sarpong is on the right track. However, what about the rest of us. Are we all doing what we’ve got to do to ensure that we have everything right to enable us make the impact we want to make next year?
Last weekend, we had the privilege of seeing Berekum Chelsea battle it out with our old foes Zamalek and this time round they proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they are a side to watch.
Some people used to say that they are hiding in Berekum and intimidating their opponents to win their matches but last week they proved all of us very wrong that the Berekum side is very good.
It shows that we need to improve a bit more to ensure that we defend our league title and also silence them next season because I think the rivalry is even shifting more to Berekum than what we traditionally have against Hearts.
To come back twice against Zamalek and win is no easy feat and I was sitting there and wondering if the Kotoko side that will go into Africa next year will have the mental fortitude and the belief that is required to conquer sides like Zamalek when they have taken the lead twice.
That was remarkable and for me, no matter what happens to Chelsea in the champion’s league this season; I will doff my hat to them and acknowledge that they have really prepared for the tournament.
At first we thought the Raja victory was a fluke and would not have happened if the game had been played in Accra or Kumasi but now we have all seen that it was no fluke and that the team is gelling and improving with every game.
So back to my question. Does Kotoko have the team with the right quality, belief and mental fortitude to win Africa next year? I don’t know the answer for now and I hope my question will continue to remind the authorities that the time to prepare and plan is now.
I know a committee has been set up and they have had a couple of meetings but I am hoping that some action is going on to ensure that we get it right the first time and do not falter along the way.
Zamalek punished Chelsea when they made just a few lapses in defense but they managed to come back. For Kotoko, I was worried at the last display I saw of our defensive pair and we need to ensure that whatever the issue, we resolve it and get them prepared for the battle ahead.
In the midfield, I again hope that Akuffu was having an off day because he is far better than what I last saw and in Africa; he will need to be as combative as he has ever been.
What will you gain as a player if you grumble and do not make a name in Africa and only become a local champion? I think the players and technical team should see this as an opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities to the whole world and raise their own profiles.
I have said that to go into Africa and succeed, we will need to sharpen our attacking machinery. Ben and Kofi Nti may be okay but they need to raise the level of their game if we are to be able to beat the like of TP Mazembe and Ahly.
These are very good sides who have been in the Africa modern terrain for a long time. Maybe K.K’s Africa committee should take a trip to Congo or Cote D’Ivoire to take some lessons from the likes of Asec and TP.
Now to our coaching problem. Just as I was about to send my article to the press, I heard that coach Max had been appointed as head coach of the U-20. And then I told myself that I think painful as it may be, K.K should take the bold decision of completely severing any technical work with Coach Max.
I have said that Kotoko is no small team and the part timing will not be of help at all. We can go to Coach Max, just as we go to any other coach like Sam Arday for advice but to make him a technical head of some sort will not work.
The man is now assistant to the Black Stars and head coach of the Satellites. I think that is enough work on his hands to handle. If it is Dramani we are going to appoint as head coach then so be it.
I love Coach Max very much and he knows it and I was one of those who tried to convince him not to go and stay with Kotoko for the Africa platform but of course the national team is always a very attractive option so he left.
I was just beginning to accept that maybe he can combine the Black Stars assistant job to the technical director role in Kotoko but now that the nation has added the U-20, I think it is okay. We should move on. Very painful but we should move on and start giving Dramani a very free role to prepare the team for next season in general and Africa in particular.
I will not mind if we lift Africa next season and not even win the league. Africa for me is priority one!
I remain your true red fabulous aficionado.
Kotoko Beku Me.
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