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Why Hearts of Oak’s choice of coach belies the club’s big name status

There was a time on Sunday afternoon when I was thinking to myself that one of Ghana’s biggest clubs, Hearts of Oak could and should be doing better that taking such a decision.

I refer to the club’s decision to appoint little known Japanese American Kenichi Yatsuhashi as the new head coach on a two year contract.

In fact, to say that I was shocked would be an understatement.

One of the first questions I was asking myself was whether there were no more indigenous coaches with the requisite experience that could do the job.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t know Yatsuhashi well enough to even judge him, but that is the whole point.

No one knows much about him and that is worrying.

My thinking is that if a Ghanaian club has to go out of the country to look for a coach, then they should get a coach with enough experience on the African continent at the very least.

But what do we have here?

According to the information we have, he has previous stints with the Aspire Academy and holds many licenses and certifications including a USSF A and National Youth coaching license, a CONCACAF International Coaching license, an NSCAA Goalkeeping diploma, and a KNBV Advanced diploma.

He is also said to be a qualified referee.

I don’t know what informed the club’s decision to hire him and perhaps the club has seen what we all don’t. In fact we are told, although it is yet to be confirmed that the new coach will earn something in the region of $1800 a month.

As we all know, David Duncan was doing a good job at the club the season before last before he was surprisingly sacked.

Mohammed Polo was brought in and that was where the club really began to retrogress.

By the time Herbert Addo took over, it seemed too late to reverse the club’s sinking fortunes and he was ultimately sacked.

Can Vanli was brought in to do a fire fighting job, as well as supervising Edward Ansah’s work as acting coach.

What beats my mind is why Vanli was not retained after the season ended.

Wherever Hearts of Oak finished on the league log, with reference to the various Disciplinary and Appeals Committee, the club avoided relegation and so I was thinking that the club would retain his services. That was not to be.

Yusif Abubakar has coached Hearts of Oak before and even though he was unable to prevent Heart of Lions from being relegated, I think he would have been a good fit for the job.

It was not surprising that the club wanted to sign Tom Strand after the young Swede took Medeama SC to FA Cup glory, but the Yellow and Mauves refused to release him.

After such a development, I would have thought that some of the other promising coaches on the local scene would have been given a look in. The name Tony Lokko readily springs to mind.

There are other coaches who are doing well locally and could have been approached.

The hiring of Yatsuhashi seems shrouded in mystery and I can only hope that the club knows what it is doing.

I wish him well, but he has to bear in mind that he is in for a huge culture shock.

What I believe though is that this hiring doesn’t fit in with Hearts of Oak’s profile as a big club but rather a seeming indication of the club’s gradual fall into mid table obscurity.

Only time will tell if I am proved wrong and honestly I hope that turns out to be the case. Otherwise this could turn out to be an embarrassing installment in a growing mess at the club.


By Christopher Opoku

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