Feature: Relevance of foreign coaches in Ghana league

BY: Peter Sarbah
Kosta Papic
Kosta Papic

The relevance of foreign coaches in the local league has always been a great bone of contention that often elicits myriad of opinions from the general public.

While one school of thought favours their presence as significant to the development of local football, others however detest their engagement on the local scene because of the belief that they are only a drain to their employees’ purse.

Surprisingly this phenomenon is not only limited to the clubs. Even the senior national team have been caught in this quagmire when the evidence points to the fact that none of the expatriate coaches have contributed anything meaningful to help win laurels for the country.

Experts in the game believe that Ghana football can make a significant strive if we depart from the over reliance on foreign coaches as an antidote to our problems and concentrate on building the capacity of the indigenous ones.

Last week Professor Kwame Mintah, who is the Director of Coaching Education of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), was indifferent about the hiring of foreign trainers because of the insignificant impact they make to the local league and believed adequate resources should be channeled into upgrading the local ones.

That point was sharply disputed to by the coach of Medeama, Yaw Preko, who is of the opinion that the presence of the foreign coaches is relevant as it presented them an opportunity for a knowledge sharing with the foreign coaches.

''Some of our officials believe in white coaches. It’s not a bad idea they bring different ideas and we learn from them and they also learn from us. Everybody has his way of running his team so if he is not getting the quality he wants and he thinks he can go out and bring a coach I don’t fault him,'' acknowledged Preko who spent his best playing years in Belgium, Turkey and Sweden.

Over the last few decades the two major clubs, Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak, have been the worst culprits on the local scene when it comes to engaging the services of foreign coaches.

The likes of Ernst Middendorp (1999-02), Ian Porterfield (2002), Ralf Zumdick (2002), Hans Kodric (2004), Hans Dieter Schmidt (2004-05), Tel At Uzum (2006), Maurice Cooreman (2008-09), Bogdan Korak (2011), Zdravko Logarusic (2017), Steve Polack (2017) and Kjetil Zachariasen (2019) have all been on the Kotoko technical bench over a period of time.

In the case of Accra Hearts of Oak, Petr Gavrila (1991-05), Ernst Middendorp (2004), Eyal Lachman (2008), Kosta Papic (2008-09), Nebojsa Vucicevic (2011-12), Kenichi Yatsuhashi (2015-26) Sergio Traguil, (2016) Frank Nuttal (2017-18) and Kosta Papic (2021) are the names that have coached the club.

The Black Stars are also a big beneficiaries of expatriate coaches from across the world. In the past the  have engaged the services of coaches such as George Ainsley (1958-59), Andreas Sjolberg (1959-62), Jazsef Ember (1963), Carlos Alberto Parreira (1967), Karl Heinz Marotzke (1968-70), Nocolae Nicuor Dumitru (1973-74), Karl Weigang (1974-75), Ozwald. Sampaio (1977-78), Rudi Gutendorf (1986-87 and Burkhard Ziese (1990-92).

The rest are Jurgen Larsen (1993-94), Petre Gavrilla (1993), Ismael Kurtz (1996), Rinus Israel (1997-98), Guiseppe Dossena (1999-2000), Milan Zivadinovic (2002), Ralf Zumdick (2003), Mariano Barreto (2004), Ratomir Dujkovic (2005-06), Claude Le Roy (2006-08), Milovan Rajevac (2008-10), Goran Stevanovic (2011-12) and Avram Grant (2014-2017).

None of the above listed foreign coaches can boost of winning any major continental trophy for their respective clubs or for the national team, but the Ghana FA and club owners keep employing them for reasons best known to them.

Currently, the local league is still populated with some expatriate coaches with Dreams FC being coached by Vladislav Viric from Serbia, Patrick Liewig is the coach of WAFA, and Coach Milovan Cirkovic was until a few weeks ago head coach of Ashgold.

Apart from Dreams FC that have seen some transformation following the introduction of the foreign coach, the two other teams have rather seen their fortunes in the league plummeted and are languishing on the 10th and 11th positions respectively.

This is a clear demonstration of how the foreign coaches add very little to the clubs except to be paid huge sums of money only to be booted out later when the club is not getting the results.

Elsewhere in Europe the new generation of coaches such as Steven Gerald, Frank Lampard, Patrick Vieira, Henry Thierry, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Mikel Arteta, among others, begun learning for their coaching badges while still actively playing football and just after their career they entered active coaching.

That is what our players must start doing now because it is obvious if they have the required coaching certificates and quality, the club managers would not overlook them for foreign ones.

This is why it’s now refreshing to see some retired Ghanaian stars such as Michael Essien starting early with his coaching badges and joining the Nordsjaelland's backroom staff in Denmark to understudy them so that he can come out as a full baked coach.

He could easily take up any club in the local league once he completes the course because it is obvious the local league can do without foreign coaches. Club owners can also fund the organisation of refresher courses for local coaches to meet the standards that they require in the league.