Hearts of Oak close to agreeing deal with former boss Kenichi Yatsuhashi

Ghana Premier League giants Hearts of Oak near reunion with Kenichi Yatsuhashi as Japanese International set to be appointed as replacement for Slavko Matic.

Matic was sacked last month after his poor run of results has forced club supporters to push the Serbian away from the club prior to their Ghana Premier League and Presidential Cup final clash with traditional rivals Asante Kotoko.

Since Matic’s departure, David Ocloo who had joined at the beginning of the season as assistant coach has been deployed to the first team head coach on interim basis.

That hasn’t necessarily ruled out Hearts’ search for a permanent replacement for Matic with several coaches heavily linked. The former Ghana Premier League champions were understood in board room discussions to bring in former Asante Kotoko manager Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum but the move seems to twist with latest reports claiming Hearts are considering bring back their former coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi.

The 54-year old completed an Asian football record in Ghana after joining Hearts of Oak in November 2015 to become to first Asian to manage a Ghana Premier League side in his first spell winning over the Phobians supporters with his wonder of performances in Hearts’ difficult venues.

“I am ready for the challenge and I believe that with the cooperation of all the fans, this union will go very far,” the 46-year-old at a press conference on Wednesday, Yatsuhashi told reporters after completing his move to the Ghanaian side.

“Hearts is a big club and I was happy that I emerged as the one to take the coaching job and I have accepted the challenge.”

The Japanese was fired midway of the 2015/16 campaign after failing to lead the team to best results. This season, though winning the league is a major Hearts long term ambition, finding Matic’s replacement has become a strong immediate objective and with Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum’s deal collapsing, Hearts are being forced to search rigorously and quicker.

They are said to identify and open talks with Kenichi Yatsuhashi with striking a deal closer with the Asian boss than any other manager, according to Futball Surgery sources and also as cited in football Ghana but the Ghanaian portal failed to highlighted the closeness of the deal. 

Football Ghana has now claimed that Kenichi Yatsuhashi will arrive in Ghana to complete the deal but Futball Surgery adds that the potential Hearts of Oak boss could arrive in the country as soon as early next week.

Kenichi Yatsuhashi’s work at Hearts nicknamed ‘Sushi’ tactics brought about major concerns with fans wanting to hear the Japanese speak about how he earned up at Hearts. He gave account for that in 2019 four years after his sacking.

“After one year of working at the Aspire Academy in Qatar, which was an extremely important and valuable experience for me working alongside top European youth coaches, I decided to move on to coach a professional senior team. I contacted many agents and one of them brought my CV to Accra Hearts of Oak, one of the two biggest clubs in Ghana and CAF Champions League winners in 2000,” Yatsuhashi disclosed.

“I made the final shortlist of three coaches and I was finally appointed in October 2015. I worked there for 8 months and I did very well in my opinion. We were always first or second in the table, but when we dropped to fourth on goal differential, despite being level on points with the second-placed team, they decided let me go. However, it was a great experience for me.”

The former Aspire Academy trainer currently works with the Dortmund Soccer Academy and is expected to a seal move to Hearts to take over the club to the end of the season. Hearts have had a unconvincing start to the Ghana Premier League but has set forth a strong finish closing the gap between them and league leaders Aduana Stars to three points prior to draw at Dreams Football Club on Saturday.

Saturday’s draw against Dreams FC means Hearts are trailed only two points from the top but Aduana Stars have a game on in hand against Tamale City on  Sunday.

Aduana Stars’ victory will open a 5 points gap which means they may still need a strong hands in Yatsuhashi to finish the season well.

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