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Hearts of Crisis: Ghana’s oldest football club is in a mess



Imagine going to school and meeting different sets of teachers each week because the school keeps sacking them or the teachers resign after days of lecturing you? Now stop imagining because that’s the reality at Ghana’s oldest football club.

They have barely managed to keep a coach for a whole season for the last decade and over. In the world of football, it is not unusual as the firing and hiring of coaches is an undeniable feature of the game.

The life of a football coach at any job is fleeting and the case of Frank Lampard at Chelsea is a perfect illustration of how a coach’s hosanna praise could metamorphose into “crucify him” calls within a twinkle of an eye.

The Afede-era and an uninspiring trophy record

Since Togbe Afede took over the reins of the club in 2011 – as the largest single shareholder, Hearts of Oak have hired and fired a staggering twenty-two coaches, add Nii Noi, the interim manager and you have twenty-three hired managers.

The sum total of trophies under these coaches is zero.

More worrying are the reasons most of these coaches were fired or chose to resign. More often than not it has been off the pitch issues that determine these situations.

It’s either a case of the coaches resigning due to undue interference or the club’s de-facto owner feeling disrespected by the conduct of the coach as evidenced in the case of Kenichi Yatsuhashi and David Duncan.

The reason for the sacking of these two coaches was not performance-related and fans had to watch on with rage as the club fell to the whims and caprices of just one person.

Messy last few days

That a coach could be fired by a club is no news. Home and abroad, history is replete with coaches being fired. It however becomes an issue of concern if the management of your club tends to be trigger happy and fire and hire without recourse to a proper long-term plan.

In the case of a traditional club as Accra Hearts of Oak, the club lost three technical men in a space of four days. The last few days at the club have been downright messy.

It degenerates into a realm of absurdity when the name of your celebrated team manager pops in the news media as allegedly being hounded out of the club.

That is the situation with the experienced Nii Sabahn Quaye rumoured to be on his way out, few days after coaches Kosta Papic, Asare Bediako and Ben Owu all downed their tools.

Messier departure accounts and in-house chaos

Whereas the official statement cites ‘personal reasons’ for these departures, rife reports paint a disturbing picture of in-fighting and clashes among the erstwhile technical team and the board of the club which has Togbe Afede presiding.

Elements within the club have been clashing heads over which player deserves to play or not which is a usurpation of the powers of the coach and to an extent his technical team.

As Papic pointed out in the interview with Angel FM, he decided to back down after consistent attempts to influence his selection.

Now he is gone and Hearts are ninth on the league table and for many enthusiasts of the game, any glimmer of hope the Phobians had of winning a first major trophy in over a decade seems to be effectively over even before the season reaches the midway point.

The situation is not any better in the boardroom too. It was expected that structures befitting of a modern-day corporate entity will take dominance at Hearts instead the club has for the past decade survived on the dictates of two persons.

The club’s biggest shareholder and a certain Alhaji Akambi whose name and face Hearts fans hate to see or hear.

Disenchanted fans and no-light at end of the tunnel?

At this stage, it will take heavenly intervention for the rainbow boys to make anything meaningful of the season should in-form teams like Olympics, Kotoko, Karela United and others maintain momentum.

For Hearts fans, it has been a painful spectacle for the last decade. The move from the conservative module which had resourceful fans running the club to the more modernized approach which has shareholders administering the club has turned out to be a failure.

Instead, recent happenings remind the fans more of the past they were running away from than the future they hoped to achieve.

If gossips emanating from the club are anything to go by then it’s a full-blown crisis at the club.

The 2020/2021 season might be just 15 games old but at Hearts, it is over and the trophy drought continues.