For fans of Asante Kotoko, the unimaginable might just be around the corner.
Reports suggest that goalkeeper Felix Annan — a pillar of excellence
and stability in an institution that often finds itself wading in waters of
mediocrity and a state of flux — could be on his way out, with his contract
running out this month. Still, as confirmed by Chief Executive Officer George
Amoako, it is highly
impossible improbable that Kotoko would let its
skipper and best player depart so easily, especially at the dawn of a new
“Talks are far advanced with Felix Annan to extend his contract,” Amoako told Kumasi-based Fox FM this week. “He wanted to sign for one year and we [Kotoko] proposed two years. He has agreed; what is left is monetary issues, offer and acceptance. Everything is in place and, by the end of this week, he will sign the contract.”
Amoako’s promise would likely be honored sooner, if not later, but until then, there remains a window through which Annan could leave. In the [unlikely] event that he does, what might the future hold for club and player?
Annan has been so brilliant — and consistently, too — that it’s almost easy to believe that he is the only able goalkeeper on Kotoko’s roster. Kwame Baah is another, however, having impressed as a regular for fellow Premier League campaigners Inter Allies before joining Kotoko earlier this year. When he turned out for Ghana’s Black Meteors at last month’s Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt, Baah was one of the team’s few bright spots and hardly showed signs of rust that might have resulted from one game too many spent in Annan’s shadows and on the Kotoko bench. Alternatively, place either Muntari Tagoe or Osei Kwame — further evidence of Kotoko’s goalkeeping overstock — between the sticks and, on a good day, either man would deliver, too.
Further down the pecking order, but no less gifted, is Danlad Ibrahim, a 16-year-old prodigy who deputized for Baah at the aforementioned continental championship. Over a lack of opportunities at Kotoko, Danlad has been loaned to Berekum Chelsea, but a new four-year deal he signed just prior to departure resounds as an affirmation of the Porcupine Warriors’ enduring belief in his potential. For that to be fulfilled, though, the queue ahead of him ought to reduce considerably; the closer Annan is to the exit, the better Danlad’s odds would look.
In sum, Annan — who gets married early in the New Year; you’re invited — wouldn’t lack suitors any more than he would substitutes, and as long as Kotoko manage to will him clear of the clutches of a direct rival, there would be little — save the loss of a handsome transfer fee — to grumble about.
But, perhaps, nobody needs the move more than Annan himself. For all the affection he enjoys among Kotoko faithful, and for all the plaudits he receives game after game, those are not the blocks that would build Annan’s career to the height that truly matches his ability. Even in an era when the gospel is preached of keeping Ghana’s best footballers on the domestic scene, if anyone deserves that ‘upgrade’ of a big leap abroad, it is Annan.
One can’t help but feel that the only reason why he isn’t yet Ghana’s first-choice goalkeeper is a lack of experience playing abroad, and this could be Annan’s chance to fix that. At 25, it isn’t like Annan is running out of time — goalkeepers often have more of that commodity than outfielders, anyway — but if he wishes to take that next step now, ‘nothing spoil’.
Will he, though?
NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH