The imminent appointment of the American based Japanese-American trainer has generated a lot of talk with many doubting his ability to handle a club of Hearts’ magnitude.
For one thing, his competence has been the subject of discussion for many pundits and the decision by Hearts has been likened to taking two step forward – with the successive appointments of the experienced David Duncan and Herbert Addo – and one giant step back.
US-based Ghanaian coach Robert Sackey, who has scouted for the Black Stars in many tournaments since 2006, gives more perspective on Hearts' hiring of Kenichi Yatsuhashi.
Sackey, who also coached Ghana's Black Princesses to the U20 Women's World Cup, believes the college-level Kenichi is not the right person for the job. Even more poignant, he further states the salary Kenichi is reported to have accepted is a red flag about his below standard qualification.
In an exclusive with Joy Sports Gary Al-Smith, Sackey offered insights into the American college coaching circuit….
Gary Al-Smith (GA-S): You may have heard, this side of the Atlantic the biggest in Ghana arguably has gone for a Japanese American coach
Robert Sackey (RS): Yes.
GA-S: His highest certificates have to do with the college soccer circuit. In your experience in the United States, is somebody who has been in and around that circuit fit to coach Hearts of Oak from that experiential point of view?
RS: First and foremost I would like to say I am aware of what is going on. I follow everything in Ghana when it comes to football and yes I know about the Japenese coach and I don’t think that he is the right person for Accra Hearts of Oak because I know all the Ghanaian teams. He is probably very knowledgeable about the game because over here [in the States] we cover the courses very well and we make sure we expose you to a lot of coaching on the field. But what he doesn’t have is that with the college soccer and American soccer in general, it is very direct, the college soccer is where the players are very fit, they go to the gym very, very much and make sure they can run for 90 minutes. So I don’t think that he is at where he can come and give Accra Hearts of Oak what they need right now. They might as well have gone for [Mohammed] Polo. So, I don’t think that he can do the job because I know all of them and I know other coaches in college and he is not even on top of college soccer here. I don’t know how he is going to do it.
GA-S: You said you don’t know him [in terms of reputation], he's not even on the top. What does it take to be at the top of US coaching even on the college circuit? Not to talk of even the the higher levels such as the MLS?.
RS: Well first you will have to make your name at the club level because club soccer which is the youth soccer, in Ghana you call it the academy. Over here, it is very big and even better organised than the Ghana Premier League, and that’s what I have been doing here for 23 years. When you go through the system, you make your name in the system that is what I have done here and then colleges then come around to search for you. Or if you are interested in coaching [at] college [level] and then they look at your background.
Because in America, your CV – we call it résumé – is very important. [It answers the question of] what have you done lately? And that is how you get to the top colleges when you are coaching for UCLA, Virginia [and so on and then you know] you are coaching for big teams [like] North Carolina and all that.
GA-S: We have established that you think based on his qualifications and experience, Kenichi is probably not fit. The way Hearts of Oak and some of the bigger teams here work now, you may know they have been in some financial issues in the past couple of years and they have actually been recording losses. In fact, Joy Sports' Benedict Dankwah reports that about $1600-$1800 a month is being touted as Kenichi's prospective salary and that’s what he is going to get.
RS: [Chuckles audibly]
GAS: I can hear the chuckle in your voice right now. Is it too low, is it too cheap even for an American to be taking there [in the States] much less as American coming into Ghana to take that sum, as an expat?
RS: Very, very cheap. Very very cheap. That [amount Kenichi is taking] is a one week job for me.
GA-S [laughing]: What?
RS: That’s not even up to one week for me.
GA-S: Okay, coach Robert Sackey give us some figures. What does an average college, so say Berkeley or any of the big college soccer schools take per month – averagely?
RS: On the average you are looking at about $12,000- $15,000 [a month]. And then apart from that you are allowed to do your summer camps which is big money so there is a lot money involved. Any credible coach who is coaching in the college in the US will not come and take $1600 or even $2000 in Ghana.
The interview was done on the Joy Sports Track with Gary Al-Smith, which airs on Mondays from 2:05pm. Interview transcribed by Kweku Arhin. Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySports
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