Sports News of Saturday, 23 December 2017
More than one year after he parted ways with Accra Hearts of Oak under controversial circumstances, Japanese trainer Kenichi Yatsuhashi is back in Ghana football as head coach of Premier League side, Inter Allies.
The US-trained coach is hoping to help make the team a force to be reckoned with in the 2017/2018 league season.
In an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports’ BEATRICE LARYEA, the coach shared his experiences from the Ghana and Nigerian Premier Leagues, his goals and aspirations at Tema Youth, among others.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
GS: How do you feel about returning to Ghana?
KY: I feel very excited and I am happy to be back to coach Inter Allies. I love this country and I had a good time when I was here the last time but I always feel it was unfinished so I think I must finish well and I hope that it is not only one season. I want to start with preseason and finish the season successfully and connect with the future.
GS: Did you ever dream of returning to the Ghana Premier League? KY: Yes, because like I told you earlier, I feel I have an unfinished business as far as the Ghana Premier League is concerned. The last time I was here I spent just half of the season and I have always dreamt of coming back, so I see this as a great opportunity.
GS: Did you receive offers from other clubs in Ghana?
KY: No. Nobody called me when I left, so I am happy I landed this deal at Inter Allies. They contacted me and the offer was good and I know that the club has a good target so I decided to join them.
GS: So how well do you know Inter Allies? KY: When I was coaching Hearts of Oak, we played against them and I saw a lot of young and talented players that I liked. I have been in touch with them recently and I know they have recruited a lot of young players and some of their players have gotten offers abroad. That’s what I know about them.
GS: How many years of contract did you sign with Inter Allies? KY: That is confidential. I can’t talk about that. If I talk about it I will be long gone…Hahahahaaaa!
GS: Can you share your experiences in Ghana with us? KY: There are a lot of good memories about Ghana and it is difficult to choose one; but having a firsthand experience about Ghana and coming back for the second time is a good thing for me because I already know how the system works, but I need to learn more about the club and the players that I will be coaching.
GS: How will Inter Allies benefit from your knowledge about Ghana?
KY: I have been to many places and I have made mistakes here and there and it has made me wise, and now I have become more mature so I think that my experience will benefit my coaching career and the club a lot.
GS: Will you transform Inter Allies?
KY: I am here to do my best and I think we have a good chance to be in top four. I don’t think we will be fighting to escape relegation because my target is to finish in the top four. My job is to develop the players and the entire team because when that happens, it will improve our chances of winning more matches.
GS: The last time you were here you were phenomenal, so will you be under pressure to impress your bosses this time round?
KY: I think any coach coaching a club in any premier league will be under pressure, and I know that expectations are high. People will be asking a lot of questions as to whether I can succeed like I did the last time, so that will put much pressure on me but I will be able to handle it because I live with pressure and I enjoy pressure. That’s my nature.
GS: Coach, how will you approach your first game against Accra Hearts of Oak? KY: Hahahaha! I don’t know when we will meet them but when the time comes we will approach it.
GS: Do you feel hurt about the circumstances that led to the termination of your contract at Hearts of Oak? KY: Well just a little, but it is in the past now. Obviously it is a part of my career but it is in the past so I am 100 per cent focused on my job. They are different clubs and I think I understand the environment and the Ghana Premier League now, so I will handle issues a lot better than the last time.
GS: Is it possible that you will pass by the offices of Hearts of Oak to say hello to your former employers?
KY: No, I am not working for Hearts of Oak right now. I think they are busy with their own preseason and I am busy with my own club and there are many things I have to do so I don’t think I will have time to do that.
GS: The last time you were here people loved you and they went to the stadia purposely to catch a glimpse of you. So this time round what should football fans expect from you?
KY: I think they went to the stadium because of how the team performed so I hope that Inter Allies as a team will perform well and a lot better than last season so that people will want to come watch our matches. That is all I am trying to do and I hope I will see a lot of supporters at the stadium.
GS: Now let’s talk about the Japanese connection. Is it likely that we will see members of the Japanese community coming to support you like they did the last time?
KY: Yeah I hope they do. Not only the Japanese community but all the supporters of Inter Allies will come to the stadium to support us. I have not been to the Japanese Embassy because I just arrived but I will do that later.
GS: You were in Nigeria and recently in Cambodia so if you are to compare their leagues to that of Ghana what will you say about them?
KY: I didn’t coach in Cambodia. I went there because I was looking for a coaching job and I wasn’t happy because the level of play was so low. Nigeria was another experience for me. As a country they are totally different. The rate of crime is so high there as compared to Ghana. There was something that happened that I was extremely unhappy about, and that was the main reason that I decided not to continue working there. I felt very unsafe to live there. But as far as football is concerned they have different types of players, but I think Ghanaian footballers have very good skills and they have great flare but they struggle to score goals. Nigerians are opposite because they have a lot of strikers and I think it is because of the size of the country and the size of their population.
GS: The last time we talked you told me that you were trying to get a baby. How is your wife and do you have a baby yet?
KY: She is fine and we are still trying to have a baby because when I met her, we were both old; and she is 46 years old now so it has been a bit difficult, but we are still hoping for the best.
GS: Coach, what excites you? KY: The Ghana Premier League. I think the Ghana Premier League is exciting because they have a lot of talents and coaching a club in the Ghana Premier League excites me a lot. I like Ghana and I think there are a lot of talents that we can develop.
GS: We wish you all the best in your new office. KY: Thank you so much!