At full-time, the only thing that saved the players of Asante Kotoko from walking down the tunnel to a chorus of boos and jeers was the fact that their outstanding Ghana Premier League game against Accra Great Olympics was played behind closed doors.
Talk about a silver lining…
Even with that, the few fans that managed to sneak themselves into the Accra Sports Stadium made sure their anger didn’t go unnoticed. Irked, frustrated, and dejected after watching their Porcupine Warriors lose to underdogs, the soliloquies and murmurs from the stands painted the perfect picture.
Wait, did I just say perfect?
This performance from Kotoko was anything but — it was lifeless and listless, leaving head coach Maxwell Konadu with more questions than answers as the team prepares for a tough run of fixtures. The 48-year-old sparked fanfare with his return to the club a year ago but has so far failed to impress at the helm. It may be too early to make any judgement about this season’s fortunes, but Kotoko’s displays have left much to be desired.
A month into the campaign, the team still does not look fit. Even worse, there is no cohesion and no signs of improvement from previous games. Kotoko started the season with three successive draws — against Eleven Wonders, Berekum Chelsea, and FC Nouadhibou — in all competitions, with last week’s 1-0 win against Legon Cities the sole victory, despite wholesale additions made to the squad ahead of the start of the term. If there’s a single game that sums up Kotoko’s season so far, though, it’s the latest — the defeat dished out on Thursday by Olympics.
Kotoko rarely threatened the Dade Boys and were lucky to have ended the first half without conceding. While Gladson Awako, Michael Yeboah, and Michael Otu combined to great effect and were running riot at the other end, Kotoko’s own attacking trident of Emmanuel Gyamfi, William Opoku Mensah, and Kwame Poku had little impact.
And it was no surprise that Olympics’ goal was borne out of good link-up play between Otu and Awako, with the latter then skipping past four Kotoko players before finding Yeboah at the far post to head home what proved to be the winner. It was a well-worked goal worth replaying over and over again as a highlight reel. But the ease with which Awako danced his way through the Kotoko defence raises serious issues about the concentration levels of Konadu’s charges.
Kotoko’s forwards hardly acquitted themselves any better. Bar a low shot on target from Poku which was parried away by Olympics goalkeeper Said Salifu, and a wayward header from Kwame Adom Frimpong, the hosts offered very little upfront.
“The season is still young,” Konadu said during his post-match press conference. “It’s a marathon league and anything can happen. We can still bounce back.”
He does have a point, but a single win from their opening four league games is definitely not what Konadu envisaged before the season started. Meanwhile, the next nine days will be crucial to how Kotoko’s fortunes pan out and, indeed, whether Konadu has a future with the club.
Based on current form, Kotoko will go into their games in that period — at home to Al Hilal in the Caf Champions League on December 23, sandwiched by away league games at Dreams FC and Medeama SC — not as favourites, but very vulnerable opponents.