The club denies it, but the speculation is widely-held now that Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum has communicated his decision to resign from his position as head coach of Asante Kotoko.
The fallout – what is being rumoured, anyway – suggests he leaves behind a house crumbling and in disrepair, almost ruined. At this point, the media would have you believe that the Kotoko family is full of factions, competing interests, and conflicting egos.
And maybe there is some truth in those claims – the extent of which is up to you to decide, depending on what you’ve heard, and from whom – as the waters of Kotoko’s ‘Red Sea’ are never really still, in any case.
What is just as true, though, is that not all has gone awry at the club.
In fact, there is plenty to keep fans excited beyond the Ogum era, and on which his successor could build. The squad is largely unchanged and remains more than decent – they won the league, at a canter, only recently.
Inevitable departures would demand reinforcement, but expect Kotoko to conduct that process with the sort of shrewdness that characterised their last recruitment session. Yet even among the existing stock, Ogum’s substantive replacement would find layers of quality and consistency still unearthed.
There are players who, for varying reasons, failed to meet expectations last season but are looking to explode when football returns, including young Isaac Oppong, ravaged by injury almost as soon as he started to blossom; midfielder Justice Blay, still getting his feet sorted after his own lengthy layoff; and Stephen Amankonah, who served far less brilliance upfront than he is capable of.
And for those who feared the brilliant pair of Cameroonian forwards, Franck Etouga and Georges Mfegue, might not return from holidaying in their homeland, well, both are back in town (though, especially in Etouga’s case, it may not be for very long) to begin pre-season work.
It would make sense – for a smoother transition, at least – to hire a coach whose template is close to Ogum’s, ensuring the team doesn’t veer far from the ideals that have served them so well; there wouldn’t be much time to tinker and tweak, anyway, with a CAF Champions League campaign kicking off in a matter of weeks.
Off the pitch, too, there is reason for good cheer.
Kotoko’s long-awaited academy project launches soon, and the man earmarked to take the leading role, Abdulai Gazale – who has spent time studying English club Southampton’s brilliant youth system at close quarters, and is currently enjoying success at the helm of one of Ashanti’s best-performing high-school teams – is raring to go.
There would be no ‘GHALCA Top 6’ participation to look forward to, and while no specific explanation has been given for Kotoko’s decision to be excused from this highly-anticipated off-season exercise, it’s probably for the better.
Besides, why be disappointed over missing a domestic six-team competition (and, please, I say this without disrespecting those who deem it a big deal), when you have far more glamorous adventures coming up on the continental front?
Wherever you look, really, there are ingredients for a bright future – and, quite possibly, still others that may be, as they say, in the pipeline – with genuine signs of good times ahead; you just have to filter, if you can (or are, indeed, willing to), the overwhelming negativity that presently saturates news about Kotoko.
It’s not all – oh, what’s with me and these well-worn clichés, Lord? – doom and gloom.
Yaw Frimpong – Ink & Kicks