After a single season, Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum has reportedly left his post as Asante Kotoko head coach in what, with the rumours swirling in his wake, looks like a proper red mist that isn’t clearing up anytime soon.
There is still a lot of conjecture about what informed Wednesday’s seemingly sudden exit – and there will be for a while, at least before some form of clarity arrives – but one thing is certain even at this very early stage: Ogum will be missed.
His first season at Kotoko was as good as — maybe much better than — his bosses and the club’s fans had imagined it would be.
Impressive as the results were, the football itself was often delightful, even if there were games that Kotoko needed to dig in a little to win. It was that style which Ogum had successfully implemented at the West African Football Academy (WAFA) the previous campaign, earning him promotion to the Kotoko role.
And even in the fierce intensity of Kumasi, where the passion for football quickly reaches boiling point, Ogum still managed to put together a team capable of playing out his ideals on the first attempt. Quite a few of those players were new, a good number of them relatively unknown quantities, but Ogum forged them into a side that dared everyone and feared no-one.
They won games with some ease, even at grounds Kotoko had never returned from with victory, eventually reducing the title race to a stroll enjoyed at their own pace. Beloved by his charges and popular with the fanbase, Ogum had sent a message, a sign of even better things to come as he entered the second half of his two-year deal.
Kotoko had a title to defend, but, just before that, the start of a CAF Champions League run was going to test Ogum’s ability to mix it with the continent’s best. Now, though, he’s walked away from all that, laying down his tools and quitting his dream job mid-week for reasons that are still anyone’s guess.
It comes a little over a month after Kotoko’s coronation, when the mood in the Garden City couldn’t have been more different.
The exhilaration and excitement experienced by the supporters on that joyous occasion is now replaced by doubt and despair. Even at a club like Kotoko, where the unexpected has a tendency of striking rather regularly and randomly, many would struggle to come to terms with this development and – perhaps more worryingly – its timing.
Ogum might have an idea or two about where he goes next – he claimed, not too long ago, that he’s fielded inquiries from abroad, while Accra Hearts of Oak, Kotoko’s archrivals, whose own technical affairs need some sorting, may ponder a move – but it’s not too clear where Kotoko themselves go from here.
Their departing boss has an impending international assignment with the Black Galaxies to distract him, buying enough time to plot his next move (if he hasn’t already), but Kotoko can afford no such luxury. The club’s response must be swift, decisive, and reassuring. Considering what Ogum accomplished in his short stint, and where he has left Kotoko, that’s going to take some effort.