The fate of David Duncan at Kumasi Asante Kotoko should give Hearts of Oak’s head coach cause for worry
By: Sammie Frimpong
It usually doesn’t take very long for anyone to understand how difficult coaching Ghana’s two traditionally biggest clubs, Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, could be.
For Japanese-American Kenichi Yatsuhashi, appointed late in October 2015 to head the latter’s technical bench, that fact has taken six Premier League games to surface. And, when it finally came, it did sting hard. After recording four wins and a draw in its first five outings, Hearts’ top-of-the-table clash with Wa All Stars was to be the fixture that strengthened the Phobians’ grip at the top. It turned out to be that which saw them relinquish their spot atop the log.
The fans couldn’t have been foolish to think this was going to be another ‘cool chop’. Hearts have looked refreshed this term, almost invincible at times, and seem set to recover from the depressing fortunes of recent years. Yatsuhashi’s team has even performed ‘miracles’ sides from the club’s glorious past would have been proud of, nicking a rare league win in faraway Tarkwa and rousing themselves from two goals down to overcome Inter Allies 3-2 on the road.
But All Stars hadn’t come all the way from northern Ghana to lounge on the beach. The lead was taken in the 18th minute through Kweku Asuandzie, albeit controversially, before being doubled minutes later. Hearts threatened a coup, pulling one back through Ibrahim Musa (he who catalyzed that famous comeback in Tema weeks ago) but, this time, there wouldn’t be enough goals to stage another glorious resurrection, as All Stars went on to grab a third to put the result beyond the hosts. Hearts fans, of course, opted to slam the poor match officials for a first loss of the 2016 league season, rather than see Yatsuhashi as the saint who’d finally fallen some way short of his own lofty standards.
Not that Yatsuhashi would cling to that thread of goodwill, though, instead choosing to take the blame for the humiliation and even going a step further to condemn the supporters’ ill behaviour.
“It was my fault that we did not win the game,” Yatsuhashi apologized on his Facebook page. “We will go back on the training grounds and we will work hard again.”
Mildly chastising the abusive spectators on another platform, Yatsuhashi said: “I understand their frustrations, but I don’t think we should have done that.”
It’s only appropriate Yatsuhashi readily admits results like these simply aren’t good enough for a club like Hearts, regardless of the fact that wallowing in such depths had somewhat become the norm in the not-too-distant past. Now that Yatsuhashi has all branches of the withering Oak tree bristling again with life, any drop would be only too obvious and, should it persist longer than is tolerable, the 46-year-old will pay for it — in much the same fashion David Duncan currently is in the camp of archenemies Asante Kotoko, after the latest wrong turn in the Porcupine Warriors’ nightmare of a league campaign.
Hearts, if things get that bad, would likely dispose of Yatsuhashi in the manner Kotoko have failed to handle Duncan’s exit, that is, with far more ruthlessness and less indecision. Kotoko and Hearts clash on Matchday 10, before which the capital outfit have three tricky ties — against ambitious new entrants Techiman City, a WAFA side that could certainly pull off the odd shocker, and faltering defending champions Ashantigold — during which to get back on their feet.
For all his good work thus far, Yatsuhashi could pray — and indeed expect — he’s granted a considerable margin of error. Should he inexorably fail and thus revive all those intense pre-season doubts that appear to have faded, the axe would come swinging hard and, as in Duncan’s case, with very little warning.