Dwomoh: Make Kotoko great again, Pollack
Grinding out results, gradually getting back to their very best – as witnessed in the first half against Hearts of Oak on Sunday in the President’s Cup – players demonstrating a desire to win, and fans seemingly pulling in the direction of rooting for the players from the first minute to the final blast of the referee’s whistle. Add the role of key management members and you have got to say these are exciting times for the Porcupine Warriors. This was a side that looked lost on the pitch anytime they stepped up to play. How the players had forgotten to win was as mysterious as the stories of Snow White, Rapunzel, and Rumpelstiltskin. Remember those books? Kotoko were worse. Crap was an understatement. The buzz was gone. The stands for a Kotoko game with regards to the numbers were not any different from a kick about in my local neighbourhood. So, what exactly has changed?
By virtue of my role as host of the Ghana Premier League franchise on Ghana Television, I have had the opportunity to see quite a number of games in all competitions. I have already written a lot about the poor and misguided sacking of Croat Lugarosic and the decision to hire club great Frimpong Manso. That’s in the past, though. It is amazing how Brit Pollack, with virtually the same squad, seems to be gradually getting the very best out of them. That’s what a gaffer is paid to do, though.
The decision to give almost every squad member the opportunity to demonstrate their talent seems to be paying off. It is understandable that after spending huge sums of money on new signings ahead of the season, these players were naturally going to be first choice when it came to player selection. No club spends that kind of money and leaves his signings on the bench. Truth, though, is that Kotoko is notoriously known for too many ludicrous signings over the years. The worst part being that a lot of these players are either given little or no time to up their game or they have simply failed to live up to the massive standards of a club as demanding as Kotoko. Small club mentality one might say, but how on earth do you sign over ten new players every season and get them to play as well as you want with such little time for pre-season? Awudu Nafiu was solid at Ashgold, just as Abeiku Ainooson, Kwame Boahene, Baba Mahama, and Abass Mohammed for their respective clubs. It is fair to say though that inasmuch as these players were given the opportunity to impress by previous managers, a player like Baba Mahama has really stepped up and has been brilliant when given the opportunity.
Many a manager has created a siege mentality and the spirit of competition to get the best out their players and Pollack seems to have done just that. Felix Annan has been first choice, not just for his goalkeeping prowess but his ability to lead from the back: vocal, ball-playing goalie, leader, and a very good organiser of his defense. Now that is what you want from a goalkeeper who wants to play at a high level. Amos Frimpong, the versatile skipper, has been used across the back, defensive midfield and as wing back and has delivered on all counts. Donkor, Adams, Quao, Brenya, Osei Agyemang, Nafiu have contributed their quota, but the competition seems to intensify by the day. Who would want to miss out on winning bonuses and a look in into the local Black Stars at the moment? The gaffer seems to be spoilt for choice in the middle of the pitch with about 10 players pushing hard for the limited spots available. Have a look that: Frank Sarfo Gyamfi, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Jackson Owusu, Ollenu Ashitey, Isaac Quansah, Prince Acquah, Michael Akuffo, Seth Opare, and Kwame Boahene.
Kotoko may be getting the results now but the striking prowess still has to improve and significantly. Obed Owusu, Kwame Boateng (out on loan), Abass Mohammed, Baba Mahama, and Yakubu Mohammed have together scored less than 10 goals all season. The goal ratio of the club, great as it is in the last few weeks, is relegation form, to be honest. That Kotoko have only scored twice in a massive 25 games should get Pollack worried. Winning is great but doing it with some finesse and panache would get the belief levels of the players going notches higher. It is obvious that the manager has had to work hard to instil a winning mentality into the mindset of the players as this bodes well for the players’ confidence going forward.
A sense of cautious optimism is creeping up with a section of the fans even talking up the team’s chances of doing the double this season. There is no point getting ahead of themselves. It should be one game at a time and winning as many games as possible. There are still 30 more points up for grabs in the final 10 games and a huge possibility of annexing the FA Cup. It was great to hear Pollack say he was in for the long haul. If he sticks to his word and the team continues to improve under his watch, there is every chance he could make Kotoko great again. It has been one too many disappointing moments locally and on the continent.
Pollack, you have to make Kotoko great again.
Thanks for reading this piece.
Fabulous, the greatest.