Another look at the local coach
• Ocloo – Made a case for local coaches
Disciples of the domestic game in Ghana have been asking a plethora of questions as to whether securing the services of an expatriate coach is the solution to the success of club football.
This interrogation may have been triggered by a current event where an Assistant Coach of Hearts of Oak – David Ocloo, took charge of the club to beat a full-time Head Coach of rival side Asante Kotoko – Seydou Zerbo, in the betPawa Ghana Premier League (GPL) clash last Sunday in Accra.
There was a beguiling piece of drama ahead of the 1-0 victory over Kotoko.
Indeed, two days ahead of the blockbuster, specifically on Friday March 3, disgruntled fans of Hearts chased out the club’s head trainer – Coach Slavko Matic, from the club’s sports complex at Pobiman, in the north-western part of Greater Accra.
The Serbian coach arrived at the training ground, evidently, to prepare his boys ahead of the week-20 titanic clash against their sworn rivals only to realise that he was not going to be allowed in by a band of fuming Hearts supporters who, apparently, were unhappy by the club’s bad patch in the ongoing Ghana Premier League (GPL).
Hearts had lost their last two games at the Accra stadium against Aduana Stars and Great Olympics – results that threw the supporters into a fit of fury.
Noticeably, the Phobians looked to have cut a frustrated side heading into the game, with Matic, having had to watch the big game at home – the police having cautioned the Serbian trainer to stay away from the club until further notice.
The nit-picky situation compelled his assistant – Ocloo, to step into the ‘hot’ seat for his boss. Ocloo knew all-too well that he was confronted with a taxing task of upstaging Kotoko for the ‘double-do’ glory. Nevertheless, he took a ferocious dash of the challenge and knocked it off brilliantly – beating Kotoko for the maximum points – and swaggering away with the Presidential Cup as well.
It was generally agreed that Hearts’ performance on the day was magnificent as the team created an avalanche of opportunities that blew many people away.
One lesson learned was that we should not downplay the quality and talent of the local coach. True, it brings to the fore the braininess of local coaches – who for many years, have been looked down upon – as if they were a bundle of chaff.
Instead of treating our local coaches with disrespect and disparagement, let us rather put in place a strong system to ensure that their technical skill and know-how as well as their general appreciation of the game, is upgraded.
Once they are upgraded to the required internationally acceptable standards, they would be able to rub shoulders with their colleagues in the other parts of Africa and the world at large.
Our coaches, indeed, have demonstrated overtime that with a little push, they would mushroom into the best technical brains many clubs and national teams would want to scramble to have.
In all their continental conquests, Ghanaian clubs have always relied on the local sweat merchants for glory. No foreign coach was able to conjure the magic!
Kotoko’s first conquest of Africa in 1970 was spearheaded by a local coach – Edward Aggrey Fynn, a feat that was repeated 13 years later by Ibrahim Sunday.
Similarly, Coach Jones Cecil Attuquayefio led Hearts to its first continental feat – a CAF Champions League glory in 2000. Four years later, the same sweat merchant inspired the Phobians to CAF Confederation Cup success by upstaging rival side and compatriots – Kotoko, in the grand finale in Ghana.
The ball is now in our court – as to whether to continue relying on the expats or build on the competence of our own.
It is sad that we do not treat our own with reverence but are all-too prepared to make the expat coach very comfortable and yet they produce almost next to nothing.
The Kotoko coach takes home a US$3,000 monthly net salary plus other mouth-watering incentives. Hearts’ coach Matic is said to be pocketing something far more than his counterpart.
Juxtapose this with what our local coaches are taking home, and you would understand the picture being portrayed here.
King Faisal, Hearts, Kotoko, in the past seasons, have dashed for the signatures of foreign coaches who end up leaving with the same flight with which they dashed in – most often achieving next to nothing!
Is that the way to go?
By John Vigah