“MY heart is bleeding over mistreatment by management and I want Otumfuo to step in to put things right”.
This was the statement that poured out from Asante Kotoko coach, Bashir Hayford, when the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, invited him to “say something” at the presentation of the four trophies the team won last season to him at the Manhyia Palace last Friday.
Even though Hayford failed to give details of the type of maltreatment being meted to him by the management, preferring to meet Otumfuo in private to spill out the beans, he left the good number of people at the palace to believe allegations that he had no formal contract with the club since he took charge of the technical bench about a year-and-half ago.
Again people were left with the belief that there could be some truth in rumours making the rounds in Kumasi that the management planned to sack him.
The Chief Executive Officer of the club, Sylvester Asare Owusu, had persistently denied any such plan to sack Hayford.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu himself gave hints of hearing the alleged plan to sack the coach and implored the management to be transparent with the coach in all dealings rather than hiding things from him.
He then asked the Akyempimhene, Oheneba Adusei Poku, to meet with the parties (coach and management) and try to find ways of ironing out any differences.
The four trophies presented to Otumfuo were those of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG), One Touch Premier League, President’s Cup and Top Four.
While commending management, technical bench and players for winning the four trophies, Otumfuo advised the team to improve their performance in order to make a positive impact in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Referring to the 2-0 defeat Kotoko suffered at the hands of Etoile du Sahel in the first group match in Sousse, the Asantehene said “I hear they played better than you but try and win your next matches”.
He, however, told the supporters to bear with the team when the going got tough, stressing that it was impossible for the team to win every match they play.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said he had decided to avoid the rampant change of management in order to ensure consistency in the running of the club.
Notwithstanding that, he felt that the management had a lot to do to bring Kotoko to the expected standards.
For instance, he questioned why Kotoko lacked a simple facility like training pitch when a new club like Kessben F/C had its own stadium.
“No matter what people say about Kessben, they cannot take away that credit of acquiring their own stadium,” Otumfuo said.
The Asantehene charged the management to draw up a five-year plan, which would change the fortunes of the club.
He also asked the management to make the welfare of the players a major priority because the players were central to the progress of the club.
But, the Asantehene also had some advice for the players, telling them to be committed to the club and that anyone who had no love for the club could leave.
The club CEO told the Asantehene that management had taken a lot of measures to improve the welfare of the players since Otumfuo appointed them a year and a half ago.
He said Kotoko were doing their home work well to win the remaining matches in the CAF Confederation competition.