Duncan faces a bleak future as life at Kotoko ebbs away, and his dull past offers him little hope

By: Sammie Frimpong

The jury has announced its verdict on David Duncan’s coaching career, and it’s as loud as the man it indicts: Duncan is — to borrow Arsene Wenger’s esteemed title — ‘a specialist in failure’.

Coach David Duncan

For the most part of a 16-year period, Duncan has had his pick of Ghana’s traditional giants: Great Olympics, Sekondi Hasaacas, Ashantigold (two separate spells), Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.

And what’s he got to show for it?

As many trophies as could be counted on a hand, none of which he had to play more than a few games for.* At nearly all of those stations, especially the last three of the aforementioned heavyweights, Duncan spurned good chances to improve his silverware count quantity- and quality-wise. He’s finished runner-up in the league four times and, only last season, lost a string of cup finals — major and minor — while at the helm of Kotoko.

For a coach who prides himself as being among the cream on the domestic front, such a record is plainly embarrassing. Others who lay claim to lesser stature have succeeded where Duncan has flopped, and it seems unlikely that any big fish — and there are none bigger on the Ghanaian scene than those Duncan has struggled at, mind — would be too eager to gamble on a man who’s thoroughly failed to prop his words up with action. He’s already underwhelmed with two Ghanaian national teams, the U17s and U23s, and the Black Stars job is still way beyond his reach.

Duncan, make no mistake, is no fraud. Tactically, he sparkles among the home-bred lot, so bright that he even once stole a brief stint in South Africa’s prestigious Premier Soccer League. And he’s also credited with grooming some of the classy footballers who’ve graced
Ghana’s pitches and national colours, among them past and present Black Stars’ regulars Anthony Annan, Jonathan Mensah and Mubarak Wakaso.

Black Stars midfielder Wakaso Mubarak remains one of his most prized inventions

Laudable as reputations for excelling in those areas are, a coach’s worth is ultimately measured per the singular metric of titles. And that’s where Duncan, for all he’s actually/supposedly good at, falls short, with his inglorious exit from Ghana’s most successful club mere weeks into the ongoing Premier League campaign the latest punctuation certifying that very fact.

*Though Duncan was officially head coach when Kotoko won the inaugural GHALCA G6 tournament earlier this year, his assistant Michael Osei actually led Kotoko’s charge as Duncan and the first team were out on pre-season business.


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