Only 19 days after the departure of Samuel Boadu – a decision a large section of Hearts of Oak fans demanded, the club’s fans seem to be clamouring for the 36-year-old’s return.
Boadu departed Hearts following a successive run of poor results which saw the club win only one of 10 league games, with the successes of an FA Cup title defence doing little to put up a case for him.
The week preceding the return leg versus Real AS Bamako, was led with war cries spearheaded by David Ocloo, the man brought in to steady the ship at Hearts. And despite falling to a 3-0 first-leg defeat, the consensus from within was that, overturning the deficit was possible.
In the end, a Caleb Amankwah volley gave Hearts victory over their Malian counterparts – in a game the club refused to broadcast, in order to lure fans to the stadium. Nonetheless, the Phobians had fallen short in their quest to return to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup, ultimately stretching their absence to 19 years.
Intentional and commendable – words to describe the club’s attempts to get fans to support their war project, but eventually, the war soon turned on the club.
Held inside the stadium for 3 hours after the game, and with slashed car tyres, Alhaji Akambi and Sowah Odotei – board members at the club, were targets of steaming fans – who have largely criticised their leadership for the club’s ‘mismanagement’.
Years and years of disappointment have been levelled on the shoulders of the duo scaling 10 years in their roles at the club.
Meanwhile, preceding calls for their heads at the Accra Sports Stadium, were chants in support of former head coach, Samuel Boadu, who was hoisted by fans despite Hearts crashing out.
“Boadu! Boadu! Boadu,” the chorus were riveting and loud, while only three weeks prior, the same fans were in for the head of a man they saw as the cause of all their recent problems.
“Boadu was here and after the game, the way he was raised with that glorious song sung for him, it shows supporters love the work Boadu did at the club. And that is why when he came before the game, they were cheering him on. He has been a hero today,” one fan said on JoySports’ Sunday afternoon show, Sports Arena.
The general mood amongst a majority of fans who thronged the stadium, and even a section who did not, leads to a case for Boadu’s return. But for the decision-makers at Hearts, it will be the biggest clown move.
Reappointing the same man who was gotten rid of just a few weeks earlier – for underperforming, because of a failure to find his replacement will be a definite mark of disorganisation. And it is for this reason Kobby Jones, PRO at Hearts’ National Chapters Committee rejected speaking to JoySports.
“It is not possible, I don’t even know why this is a conversation,” he mumbled, casting a very frustrated tone. And that was all he said before saying ‘thank you’ and then hanging up.
While trying to avoid catching themselves in a net of clownery, perhaps, they might have already failed in that regard, since Boadu was relieved from his role without a credible replacement in the pipes.
There was the initial plan to have Auroras head, Nii Noi, as caretaker, but the intent backfired because of the FA’s strict adherence to rules.
“This year’s league if you don’t have a license, you can’t sit on the bench. It cuts across for the juvenile set up right to the premier division. So every club in Ghana must be coached by a licensed coach, that is the policy,” GFA general secretary, Prosper Addo was recorded saying.
Definitely, those who make the decisions up there at the club should have known, negligence cannot be an excuse.
In all of the mayhem and ‘chaos’ which transpired at the stadium, one name – Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe was exempted. But kid no one not, as he has never once been exempted from the ridicule of Hearts fans. Probably, he is the most wanted man at the club – though Odotei could put up a strong case, and definitely, his saving grace on Sunday was his absence.
The 80-year-old has been torn into by fans for some of his comments, which they believe unsettles and causes unnecessary unrest at the club. In the build-up to Boadu’s sacking, Dr. Nyaho was a key commentator, spurring on and sometimes initiating the ‘uprising’ against Boadu.
‘Emotional’ is how some described Hearts’ decision to let Boadu go, and as the club seems to grow more and more disoriented with a decision on a replacement, they are doing little to thwart such arguments. Arguments sustained by some former key heads at the club.
“I didn’t agree with the sacking of Boadu. Football is about relationships between the players and coach, so if it was Boadu they did not want anymore, they should have let him go and maintained Hamza Mohammed [his assistant] to see out the game versus Bamako, so that after that game, they put in place whatever they had planned in mind.
“But they sacked Boadu and his backroom staff. Now there’s a vacuum where there is no relationship between the players and coach because you have brought in a new person,” Amankwaa Mireku said to Saddick Adams before the CAF Confederation Cup return leg.
Nonetheless, Hearts went on to win the second fixture but were ultimately knocked out of the tournament after losing the tie. So it begs the question, what was the reason for the sacking of Boadu?
Letting go of a manager days before a crucial continental tie only means one thing: the club wanted to end the group stage drought, and if not so, for a club Hearts’ size, that should be a non-negotiable target.
This season, the Phobians have the best squad any team the Ghana Premier League can offer; Konadu Yiadom, Afriyie Barnieh, Samuel Inkoom and Gladson Awako, names with enough quality to beat a Bamako side who were still in preseason at a time the first leg of the tie came around.
This is not to say Boadu will have beaten Bamako – the numbers preceding the game do not even play in his favour. But a Boadu return or board dissolution? The best way to answer this question is by determining the direction of the club.
“The whole objective is to make Accra Hearts of Oak the preeminent club in Africa. We want to build a club that becomes a reference point across the continent in terms of what a modern club should look like.
“We want to compete with all the others and we want to really be the magnet that will attract players from across the continent. So we want to make Hearts the preeminent where we will win trophies at that level, having organization structures that are admired and having facilities that are celebrated,” Togbe Afede said in an interview two years ago.
So once again, a Boadu return or board dissolution? Decisions which can only be made by Togbe Afede.
Will a Boadu return have Hearts playing in the final of a CAF Confederation Cup or Champions League? Or will the continuous rule of Akambi, Odotei and Dr. Nyaho spiral the club back to conquering the continent?
Years without playing at the top level screams mediocrity, and irrespective of the angle at which it is viewed from, decision-making in football administration is the first step every hungry club needs to be calculated with.
So there is a critical question, has the decision-making at Hearts been at continent-beating level? This should provide answers.
But from Hearts of Oak’s press conference where Togbe Afede heaped bags of praise on Akanbi and Odotei, while also indicating new coach, Slavko Matic had come in to restore damage severed in CAF competitions, it is safe to say there will be no dissolution of the board, neither will Boadu be making a return.
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