Aftermath :Kotoko crash out of CAF Confederations Cup
So this is how it ends. Kotoko’s 2-1(agg) loss to Sam Pedro puts an end to their quest to make it to two consecutive group stage appearances at the CAF Confederations Cup. As disapointing as this might sound, it was rather expected.
Truth be told, this isn’t as bad as past defeats to Eulma and CARA Brazaville-where Kotoko missed all of 3 penalties in Kumasi- but yet still, the feeling of hurt, anguish and a general sense of disappointment is hardly different.
For now, the post-moterm is going to be done on the various sports platforms, especially the ones in Kumasi. The fans are also not going tospare the management and the technical team, they will make sure their feelings are known to all involved and at fault.
In such instances, the manager ultimately pays the price. Sometimes, fairly, but other times, the blame needs to be shared. The former is more applicable in this case.
Coach Kjetil Zachariassen , having been recognised as a much needed upgrade to his predecessor, CK Akunnor, was appointed as Kotoko boss and dubbed the man to take Kotoko to their first CAF Champions League group stage berth since 2006.
His Ashgold side defeated Kotoko in the semi final of the Tier 2 Normalisation Committee Special Competition. A competition they went on to win and qualify for the Confederations Cup.
With this resume, he was expected to guide a new look Kotoko, without key figures like Amos Frimpong, Kwame ‘Conte’ Bonsu and Abdul Fatawu Safiu back to the top tier of football on the continent.
To put it bluntly, he failed.
Zachariassen was presented as the one to bring a unique brand of beautiful football to Kotoko, one that according to the manager was missing from CK’s reign. Instead, what we saw a coach whose in game management was as poor as his tactical nous.
When push got to shove and Kotoko needed their coach to earn his salary, Zacchariasen’s unwillingness to be pragmatic and rather ignorant approach left his team helpless.
The early signs of trouble came in the first qualifying round where Kotoko after some goof fight back found themselves 2-1 up against Kano Pillars in Nigeria.
With a little over 30 minutes to go, it was a no brainer for every coach to close the game and see out a very important away win. Instead, Kotoko remained open and were caught out at the back. They eventually conceded 2 more goals and lost the game 3-2.
Even though a 3-2 away result was always going to favor Kotoko in the end, the performance had thrown a pebble in the pond, and there were to be rippling effects.
This continued in the next round as Kotoko surrendered a 2-0 first leg to lose 3-0 away to Etoile du Sahel. Conceding twice in the last 12 minutes.
At San Pedro, Zachariassen went from bad to worse as this time, he did not only fail to defend the lead, but made matters worse when he sent out a weird starting 11, dropping key regulars Gyamfi,Yacouba, Baby Keita and Augustine Okrah.
The result, Kotoko produced a very dispirited display to lose the tie.
So on the coaching front, lessons are clear, you either go for a significant upgrade in a much experienced, seen it all character or better still, you hold your horses and hope continuity will bring a good result.
In an ideal world, some of those in management will also take responsibility for their actions. The handling of the technical team to the wholesale recruitment are wrongs that cannot go unpunished.
Overall, Valuable lessons should have been learned in the last 3 months and we can expect Kotoko to bounce back. Maybe the upcoming Ghana Premier league season has arrived at the right time to shift their focus.
The coming months are key and only the right decisions are going to take Kotoko to the height they want to reach on the continent.
Inter not backing down.
The Nerrazuri’s exceptional start to the season continues as they sit second on the league log, losing just one game all season to Juventus.
Inter’s solid defence has led to them concede only 11 goals all season, a tally bettered by only Juventus and Hellas Verona.
In attack, their 24 goal tally for the season is only bettered by Atalanta’s 30, with Lukaku and Martinez forming a brilliant partnership upfront. The two have scored 9 and 6 goals respectively.
Kovac resigns after 5-1 loss to Frankfurt.
It is no surprise that Bayern’s injury woes have come back to hit them hard and after being forced to once again field a back 4 with Alaba at CB and Alphonse Davies at LB, the worst was feared.
However, Kovac’s issues with Bayern run deeper than a poor run of results that has left them 4th on the Bundesliga log. Eventually, someone had to take the blame and as usual, it was the manager.
In another bizarre incident, Mario Balotelli walked off the pitch after being subjected to racial abuse by Hellos Verona fans.
He was then convinced by both sets of players to return to the pitch, after which he scored in the 85th minute in Brescia’s 2-1 loss to Verona.
The last time a similar thing happened 2 months ago, the FA failed to punish the culprits.
General captain of the Ghana Black Stars and all time topscorer, Asamoah Gyan was on the scoresheet again for Indian side North East United. At age 34, Baby Jet seems to be settling well into life in India.