THE management of Kumasi Asante Kotoko appears to have demonstrated tremendous faith in coach Johnson Smith just days after taking over from his boss, Paa Kwesi Fabin who, in the typical Ghanaian political parlance, was asked to proceed on leave last Wednesday.
A management member, Alhaji Ali Maradona, typified management’s admiration of the technical capabilities of Smith, saying there is a vast difference between his coaching style and that of Paa Kwesi Fabin.
This was after Smith had led Asante Kotoko to a significant victory over Real Tamale United in Tamale last Sunday in a match in which the Porcupine Warriors accused the home fans of rowdy behaviour.
And for now it appears Paa Kwesi’s days with Kotoko have ended after he led the team to a near-collapsed form.
Giving plaudits to the coach for guiding the team to that victory, Alhaji Maradona told the Graphic Sports in Kumasi yesterday that “Johnson Smith knows what to do to psyche the players, both on and off the field, and this showed clearly on Sunday when he led his charges to the 1-0 victory over RTU”.
“Unlike Paa Kwesi, Johnson Smith does not shout at his players. He rather encourages them to go in for the kill, and this gave them the confidence to overpower RTU,” he added.
He dismissed a suggestion of sabotage on the part of the players against Paa Kwesi.
Although Kotoko made some big signings this season, the results had been negative and management believed the coach was a factor.
Asante Kotoko, historically the most successful Ghanaian club, had had a nosedive in its delivery this season and are currently lying 8th on the premier league table.
It would have been disastrous if the team had lost on Sunday. Indeed reports had it that Otumfuo Asantehene would have sacked the management.
The Kotoko management last Wednesday asked coach Paa Kwesi to proceed on leave after the team played a 1-1 draw game with Heart of Lions in a Glo Premier match at the Baba Yara Stadium.
For a coach whose arrival at Kotoko at the beginning of the season was touted as one of the best things to happen to the club, a litany of poor team performance was too much for the supporters to bear.
Paa Kwesi was lambasted for playing without the killer punch Kotoko was noted for.
The final days of his tenure attracted the disdain of the supporters who launched verbal assaults on the embattled coach.
Right after the managements decision asking him to proceed on leave was communicated to him, Paa Kwesi made it clear that he was not sure of returning to the club again.
He insisted that the club owed him some money and expressed the hope that they would pay him so that he would leave in peace.
Commenting on the match against RTU, Alhaji Maradona said the Kotoko team was held hostage on the field for about 20 minutes after the game.
“It was unbelievable the way the home supporters misbehaved and we believe the GFA and PLB will take action against RTU,” he said.
A photojournalist with the Kotoko Express, a club newspaper, David Kyei, also stated that some RTU supporters took his camera from him and the lens were destroyed before security men retrieved it.