David Duncan’s concluded exit should clear the path for his former assistant’s lasting step-up
By: Sammie Frimpong
If any club were seeking a new coach at present, I’d be surprised it would be Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The Porcupine Warriors would, in fact, be crazy to continue with their hunt for a new technical head. They wouldn’t have been three months ago, of course. Back then, Kotoko were all over the place, 16th on the table and so many points off the path to a successful league campaign. Outspoken boss David Duncan lost his job as a consequence (a decision finalised only days ago), and Kotoko eagerly set about finding his replacement. It’s a search that hasn’t yielded anything concrete yet — at least we’ve heard nothing official on the subject — but one that really has to end, if there’s any justice in the world. Kotoko, it seems, have been looking too far, too hard, for an answer that’s right within their ranks.
The man crying for such justice, albeit in a manner as muted as possible, is stand-in guy Michael Osei. Since Duncan’s exit, Osei has more than stood in, though, going further to stake a claim for a substantive role. He’s added 22 points — in just ten games — to the five Duncan had amassed by the time of his exit, leaving Kotoko only two behind leaders Wa All Stars heading into the league’s second round. He also had Kotoko cruising in the FA Cup [until the recent quarter-final exit at the hands of Bechem United], and the chances of winning some silverware this season brightens a bit more with the prospect of a date versus archrivals Hearts of Oak in July 1’s President’s Cup waiting.
Osei’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed, of course, and among those who’ve showered the 43-year-old with praise is former Kotoko skipper and stalwart defender Joseph Hendricks.
“I think he needs time to put few things together because he has shown that he can do the job,” Hendricks recently said to Goal.com about Osei.
‘Oreba’ couldn’t have put it better.
There indeed could be few candidates better qualified to lead Kotoko’s bench than ‘Ember’. The results he has produced over the last few months — and the renaissance that’s triggered those — speak volumes, but he’s got an extra string to his bow that stands him in better stead than most who could have a look-in for the position, a fact Hendricks highlights as well.
“Many come and learn the culture and practices of [Kotoko] but he had the privilege to join as a player and went through the ranks to become the captain, assistant coach and now caretaker coach,” adding that Osei thus “knows everything concerning the club.”
Sometimes, that’s crucial: the success stories of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane at Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid respectively attest to that much. Having thorough knowledge of a club and actually being part of its fabric through prior association isn’t a guarantee of a trophy-laden managerial gig, but it never hurts. For a man who’s already won two titles in a caretaker’s role when calling the shots in the temporary absences of the men he’s deputised for in the last few years — and at a club that’s never feared believing in its own — Osei has a lot going for him.
And, as Hendricks points out, offering Osei the office shouldn’t be the tactician’s reward for winning the league (though certainly not because he can’t prove equal to the task); the former should only be motivation for the latter.
He’s earned it, really.