AS the commencement of the 2010-20111 premier league edges closer, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, who have sworn to get back to winning ways are to take their pre-season training to Togo and the Republic of Benin.
“Our target is to win the league next season, and as part of the measures, we are moving to camp on July 16, and after some local games, the foreign trips will follow in due course,” newly-appointed coach, Ebo Mends told the Daily Graphic in Kumasi last Saturday.
With the World Cup over, national attention surely is shifting to the upcoming local season and Asante Kotoko want to make the most out of the pre-season.
Speaking on a wide-range of issues, Ebo said he was getting all the necessary support from the board and promised a “massive change” in the output of the team this season.
The club’s ultra-modern training pitch at Adako-Jachie in Kumasi which was inaugurated last week, has been a hive of activity, with expectant supporters pouring in the hope of seeing which new players were joining the club.
Even though no new players have appeared yet, coach Mends says the recruitment process was on track and that only the best would join Kotoko this season.
Two weeks into his appointment, Ebo Mends appeared to have settled down to serious business with the target to winning the premier league next season, and he believes the team needed the right materials to execute the task.
According to him, the next few days could see the axing of eight players from the current squad of Asante Kotoko and the recruitment of seven others to prepare the team for the upcoming season.
The 48-year-old coach would not mention the names of the players involved but said supporters would be happy when the names come out this week.
According to him, the seven players the club had settled on for recruitment were selected from a list of 18 players picked from the various clubs in the last premier league.
The coach said he was back to Kotoko to prove a point. “I was here in 1999 and left within a season, Now is the time to prove a point and I’m ready for that,” he said.
Ebo Mends stated that he would do with 30 players this season, saying too many players “tend to destroy the soup”. Out of the number, five would be promoted players from the Kotoko Under-20 side.
He insisted that the club would not undertake any justify-your-inclusion this season because time was not on the side of the club.
The coach said the welfare of the players was paramount in building a winsome side and indicated that the board had given the assurance to tackle it with all seriousness.
“I’m happy about the players’ response to training, and from all indications, the competition for positions would be very keen,” he said.
But, he said, much more needs to be done on player commitment to duty. “What prevails in the team now is a departure from the past when we played for the club with so much commitment, and we have to work to change the situation”.
Ebo Mends said many of the club’s supporters had lost confidence in the team “ and we have to work to get them back to the stadium”.
The coach stressed the need for Kotoko to take youth development with all seriousness as a way of feeding the senior team with the right materials.
He expressed regret that these days, it is difficult to see Kotoko players in national teams, and gave the assurance to work hard to change the situation.