Finally, Asante Kotoko have their man.
On Monday, following weeks and months — even years — of speculation, it was announced that Maxwell Konadu has been re-appointed head coach of the Porcupine Warriors.
Kotoko fans are usually glad to see the back of a trainer, but Konadu’s exit in 2012 didn’t have nearly the same effect; far from it, Kumasi never really warmed up to the loss of a man who had loyally served the club as player and coach with brilliance.
In the seven years since the end of Konadu’s first tenure, Kotoko have been through 10 coaches (caretakers inclusive), and while some of those left good memories and silverware, perhaps only Charles Akonnor — who departed only five months ago but already has Konadu as second in a line of successors — is spoken of with similar fondness among Kotoko faithful.
You could understand why.
Kotoko had gone three seasons without winning the Ghana Premier League title — an anomaly, for the division’s most successful team — and Konadu rectified it in his debut campaign, 2011/12, securing the title with the flourish of a 14-point margin and some delightful football; it would prove only the first of three straight conquests. Konadu wouldn’t take direct credit for the other two, however, as he responded favorably to the senior national team’s offer of an opportunity to assist Kwesi Appiah, a former teammate at Kotoko and with whom he had won gold a year prior at the African Games in Maputo.
Along with that experience, Konadu had spells with the Black Stars B team, the national U-20s, U-23s, and even an interim stint at the helm of the main Stars set-up, to varying degrees of success. Yet not once in that time did the faith of those he’d left behind in the Garden City waver regarding the prospect of Konadu returning. Now he has, five days after he turned 47, and expectations are quite high after his immediate predecessor — the hugely unpopular Kjetil Zachariassen — left Kotoko low.
“I will do my best but will ask the supporters to exercise patience as we are trying to improve the team,” Konadu told Kotoko Express App.
Ordinarily, patience isn’t a commodity in abundant supply at Kotoko but, with all the goodwill he enjoys, Konadu can expect a
generous fair dose of it. He inherits a side broken in spirit after successive elimination from the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup, but one that retains enough talent to strengthen its position of supremacy in the land when the new league season commences later this month. And in Johnson Smith, a recently appointed assistant coach poached from Karela United and another highly esteemed for past services rendered to Kotoko, Konadu has a strong technical ally.
Against archrivals Hearts of Oak in the 2019 President’s Cup clash next Sunday, Konadu’s job starts — hardly on the lightest of notes. It was at home to Hearts in 2012, though, that Konadu enjoyed arguably his finest hour as Kotoko coach, most memorable for that last-gasp Michael Akuffo bolt that fastened shut those Phobian lips which cheered what, only moments earlier, had seemed a late leveler.
How’s that for inspiration?
Kow Frimpong — Daily Mail GH