Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
KUMASI Asante Kotoko Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Sylvester Asare-Owusu, has released what appears to trigger debate in football circles in the days ahead, claiming that the club pays the biggest salaries to players in the country.
On the face value, the statement, which he made in an interview with the Graphic Nsempa, appeared debatable, but the two-time club boss insisted that he was stating a fact that could not be denied by anybody.
“That is why we are the most attractive club in the country today”, Mr Asare-Owusu told the Graphic Nsempa in an interview.
He did not give specific figures to support his claim but said his administration had reviewed salaries upward by fifty percent, which has brought the figure far ahead of ant other club in the country.
Unvestigations made by the Graphic Nsempa , however, revealed that the lowest paid player in Kotoko takes home not less than ¢1 million a month
Mr Asare-Owusu indicated that, during his first coming as chairman of the club, his management made a significant upward review of salaries which contributed in a long way in motivating the players to win the league for the first time after a ten-year drought.
Asare-Owusu who spoke to this paper on the preparations the club had made towards the league, which kicked off over the weekend, said manageent had done everything to bring the club to shape and ready to do battle in the season.
“Motivation has been very high. I think that we have done enough to ginger the players to bring smiles to the face of the teeming supporters“, he said.
The build-up to the premier league saw Kotoko engaging in perhaps the biggest ever pre-season training programme ever witnessed by any club in the country.
They were in Germany for close to two weeks, toured Sudan and played a match in Cote D’Ivoire to fine-tune for the season.
Some critics of Kotoko and specifically the present management argued that the clubs they competed with in Germany were mediocre sides whose pedigree could were not enough to bring the best out of the training programme.
But officials of Kotoko rebutted such arguments saying the training programme was not a competition where the club had to play strong sides. They were only meant to prepare the team for the upcoming season by using the matches to correct the rough edges in the team.
“It was the first time that a team has undertaken such a massive training programme in Ghana and we have to reap the benefits”, he said.
What benefits? Winning the league in the first place and going ahead to annex the CAF Confederations Cup, after deciding finally to participate in the African Competition.
Kotoko had not seen any continental silverware since they last won the then Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in 1983. The last twelve years had also seen them winning the national league just once, that was during the first period of Sylvester’s administration.
The fans are therefore very thirsty of continental honours and this season presents them with the opportunity to restore their continental image.
Kotoko are relying on a blend of old and new faces to do battle in the season. Old faithful like Arhin Duah, Francis Akwaffo, Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor, Kwame Obeng Darko, Ofosu Amoah and goalkeeper Isaac Amoako have joined forces with fresh faces including Kwabena Yaro, Kwadwo Poku, come-back midfielder Stepehn Oduro, Francis Coffie, Prince Amponsah and Kwadwo Poku.
Attempts to bring on board former international Baba Adamu “Amando” seemed to have hit a snag after the GFA Status Committee ruled that he could not be registered because Kotoko failed to advance reasons as to why he should be registered after the close of the first phase of the player rehistration exercise.
Kotoko have appealed against the decision and wereawaiting the outcome, which they believed would rescind the earlier decision.
What Kotoko is calling for is fair officiating to ensure that the league is won on merit. “We expect our referees to be fair to all because our league must grow”, the CEO said.