THE management of Kumasi Asante Kotoko is not ready to capitulate to pressure by their supporters to replace Belgian coach Maurice Cooreman with former trainer Bashir Hayford.
“We are not going to change the coach. It is too early to say this coach is not good, and I think we have to give him the chance to perform”, Kwame Baah-Nuako, Communications Director of the club, told the Graphic Sports on phone yesterday.
With Kotoko's title defence under serious threat as a result of dwindling performance in the six-week-old Glo Premier League, the impatient supporters of the club are putting pressure on the management to act with dispatch on the coach whom they have accused of incompetence before the team is plunged into more difficulties.
What finally pushed the supporters to cry out against the coach was the team's unimpressive home outing against newly-promoted side, Bechem Chelsea, which saw the Porcupine Warriors struggling to earn a 1-1 draw, courtesy an 88th minute penalty equalizer.
They hurled insults on the coach, calling for his dismissal, but management is playing down any such decision on the coach whose contract is just some three months old, insisting that they have absolute confidence in him.
Kotoko have gained only a point out of the maximum six in the last two league matches and do not appear the fearsome side that kept the league on fire last season.
In spite of the huge purchases made this season the team appears to be struggling in the league, and their supporters put the blame squarely on the Belgian trainer who was signed from Nigerian side, Enyimba.
What has kept the temperature of the supporters boiling is the outcome of the last two matches which saw them performing abysmally against newly-promoted sides, St Mirrien and Bechem Chelsea.
At their Baba Yara Stadium fortress last Sunday, Kotoko struggled to draw with Chelsea, courtesy an 88th minute penalty equalizing goal by Francis Coffie, and the supporters went wild.
They hurled insults on the coach for poor selection and tactics and believed that management needed to act swiftly to bring back former coach Hayford.
Cooreman is on a two-year deal with Kotoko. His task is to qualify the team to at least the group stage of this year's CAF Champions League, as well as ensure that the team retains the league title.
But his competence to deliver on the set targets has come under attack by the Kotoko fans.
It took the intervention of the security personnel to prevent what could have been another nasty scene by Kotoko supporters.
But Baah-Nuako says the problem could not be put squarely at the doorstep of the coach if his explanation of the development was anything to come by.The communications director quoted the coach as explaining that his frustration emanated from two options.
According to Baah-Nuako, coach Cooreman insisted that either his assistant, Johnson Smith was not getting his (Cooreman's) message through to the players properly, or the players were simply not playing to instructions.
"Management met with the coach after last Sunday's match and he told us his frustrations and I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Until such a time that his message goes through to the players properly, the likelihood is that the team may come across some problems", Baah-Nuako said.
He also insisted that the team was undergoing some form of rebuilding, looking at the new players that were being introduced into the team.
While appreciating the concerns of the supporters, he prayed that the supporters would have patience with the coach.
By the 10th minute in last Sunday’s game, Chelsea were in control of the midfield and it became clear that Kotoko were going to face a tough match, and the supporters saw the coach as doing little to salvage the woes of their idol club.
Cooreman, who inherited a squad built by his predecessor, Bashir Hayford, had to be whisked away from the stadium last Sunday under tight security as the supporters charged and rained insults on him for the team’s inability to win the day.
Coach Hayford, whose contract was to expire this January, had hoped that his mandate would have been renewed after he had been able to win the league but decided to call it quits when he realized that dream had been dashed.
In 2003, the then head coach of Kotoko, Abdul Razak, won the league as head coach and the expectations were that he was going to be retained, but for reasons best known to management he was replaced.
In signing Cooreman on, the Kotoko management indicated that they were aware of the abilities of the coach and had tasked him to bring laurels to the team,with his first task being to build a formidable squad for the league.
Before Sunday’s match Kotoko were still struggling to come to terms with the shock 1-2 defeat at the hands of bottom club, Sporting Mirren, in Accra.
The supporters, therefore, had greatly hoped for Kotoko to use the Chelsea match to redeem their image since the team appeared to be the best in the league with their off-season acquisitions in the persons of Alex Asamoah, Fred Quayson, Agyemang Badu and Samuel Nzemaba, among others.