Zakkour: Togbe Afede, Noonan to blame for Hearts’ decline

Author: Beatrice Laryea
Harry Zakkour

A former chairman of Accra Hearts of Oak, Harry Zakkour, has attributed the Phobians’ recent woes to the appointment of Mark Noonan as the club’s Managing Director, because he claims the American knows absolutely nothing about the club’s history and has also abandoned some traditions that previously made them successful.

Mr Zakkour, who was Hearts’ chairman when the club achieved unprecedented successes, including winning the 2000 CAF Champions League, 2001 CAF Super Cup and many domestic titles, pointed out that early payment of players salaries and good relations between the club’s top executives and the players were key success factors that psyched up the players to give of their best on the field of play.

He told the Graphic Sports last Saturday that Noonan’s foreign approach to management which had abandoned those key Hearts traditions, as well as the alienation by the club’s Board Chairman and majority share holder, Togbe Afede XIV, of personalities who played key roles during the club’s glorious years, had culminated in the club’s recent dip in form.

“When I look at Hearts now I get so surprised that the standard has gone so low. How can you have a foreigner who does not know the history of the club as the Managing Director?”

“All the old people such as Ernest Bediako of Ernest Chemists, Nii Ayi Bonte, Ernest Quashie, Fiifi Forson, Maxwell Addo, Ashford Tettey-Oku and Randy Abbey, know that something is wrong somewhere, but nobody is willing to step forward because Togbe doesn’t want to see old faces,” said the man who led Hearts between 1998 and 2002.

Mr Zakkour was very critical of the decision by Hearts’ management to throw the team unprepared into a two-leg friendly match against archrivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko, resulting in humiliating defeats for the Phobians.

He said it was needless for Hearts and Kotoko to engage in the ‘Super 2’ friendlies organised by the two clubs to raise funds and also keep the teams active due to the suspension of domestic football for the last three months.

“I was surprised when I returned from England last week and I heard that Hearts played Kotoko in two friendly matches on the same field without asking for a neutral ground. We are two big rivals in this country so we don’t play friendly matches,” said the man nicknamed ‘Champion Chairman.

Mr Zakkour said he was ready to bring his wealth of experience on board to help restore Hearts to their glory days provided Togbe Afede XIV was ready to accommodate him.

“I would love to visit the players to help salvage the situation but you need Togbe’s permission to do that since he is the [single] biggest shareholder. He doesn’t want old faces and at the moment, I am not a director or a shareholder,so I cannot give advice to anyone.”