That is the picture of Kumasi Asante Kotoko now, and the question that has come to mind is whether the 2015/16 Premier League season will end with the double as their former coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani achieved?
Many have all the plaudits for Kotoko’s Managing Director and former striker, Opoku Nti, whose boot found that unforgettable single goal that won his beloved club their last continental honour in 1983. Opoku Nti is said to have the lenses to see what is beyond the clouds and his counteractions have always been right and beyond the purview of his detractors.
The decision by the Kotoko management to call on Coach David Duncan to step aside for his assistant, Michael Osei, to act as caretaker coach has paid-off at least for now. Opoku Nti had sleepless nights thinking of the downturn of his club after their first four matches of the current season, and while under pressure, he had to come to the conclusion that Duncan could not escape blame for the quick nosedive of Kotoko to the bottom of the league table after March Day 4.
Indeed, Opoku Nti’s position was being monitored and discussed at the Manhyia Palace, and it was for him to act swiftly, while the caretaker coach must have had the magic wand to turn things round. What would have been the fate of Opoku Nti and his team, including Edmund Ackah, who felt strongly that, looking at the calibre of players at Kotoko, there was nothing to stop them from proclaiming themselves the league champions after Match Day 10. He enven dared to predict that Kotoko would annex the MTN FA Cup.
The present situation where the Fabulous club has climbed from the relegation zone to the third position at the end of the first round of the season speaks volumes about what lies ahead for them. The doubting Thomases are asking whether it is going to be another glorious year for Opoku Nti and the club he manages at the behest of the owner and the spiritual head of the club, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene.
So far on the MTN FA Cup front, the only Premier League clubs left for the quarter-final stage are Liberty Professionals, WAFA, Wa All Stars, Bechem United and Kumasi Asante Kotoko. There is also Okwawu United, Elmina Sharks and Wa Rockets who are in the lower divisions, and looking into the crystal ball, one cannot rule out the possibility of Kotoko picking the top prize after dismissing opponents like A.K Shion, Tumu Real 24 Hours and Storm Academy.
Really, if the winning mentality in the Fabulous club now is anything to judge the favourites for the FA Cup, one cannot begrudge those who think the Porcupine Warriors can be trusted to march to the final and claim the title this season, in spite of the fact that FA cups all over the world have always been unpredictable.
It is interesting to note that the excitement in the current football season is getting more fascinating with the first round ending last Sunday with Kotoko beating Techiman City 4 – 2 in Kumasi and Hearts of Oak drawing 1 – 1 with Dreams FC at Dawu.
And with Wa All Stars jumping to the top of the league table with 28 points, followed by three potential challengers – Aduana Stars, Kotoko and Hearts – with two points adrift, and also Bechem United, Ebusua Dwarfs and New Edubiasi United languish at the bottom, there is no doubt that the second round will see greater fireworks. We have 15 more incredible matches to encounter, and who knows how others in the middle zone like Liberty, Dreams, WAFA and Chelsea would react.
However, the possibility of readjusting the second round with 15 clubs and thereby disrupting the season’s calendar with the threats by New Edubiase to withdraw from the premiership due to financial problems can dislocate the programme.
New Edubiase’s bank-roller and President, Abdul-Salam Yakubu, has made a credible request for their re-location of their centre back home at Bekwai, and I think he has a case. In the present economic conditions in the country, who can convince me that one can play at a venue far from home and make for the economic imbalance. He has said that the only consideration for their rescinding their decision to quit the league would be the return to their traditional home ground at Bekwai.
I think the FA who took that decision to relocate New Edubiase to the Len Clay Stadium at Obuasi had their reasons for that decision, but then in what way has the association to which the Edubiase club belong helped by way of improving their venue to meet the criteria approved by international standards. Was it not at the same park that they qualified for the premiership and how far away are they in making it to the required standard? In order not to disrupt the smooth running of the league, it is obvious there is the need to find a quick solution to the problem, even if it will require putting up a task force to work all day, all night to rehabilitate the Bekwai Park.
To me, it will be ideal to keep to the 16 club league at all cost but can somebody tell me Wa All Stars or Aduana Stars cannot win the current Premier League if they mean business? And will Hearts and Kotoko in their hunger for honours sit back and watch on without a deadly fight?
As I said in a recent contribution, the race is not always to the swift, the first can be the last, and all will depend on the outcome of the second round. Kotoko are now in a devastating form, and if they keep the pace, no one would be surprised if they make it to Africa, a tournament they have yearned for in the past few years.