Wednesday, 14 October 2020 21:52

BUDU'S CORNER: Why Felix Annan must leave Asante Kotoko Featured

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With the arrival of Razak Abalora becoming a case of when and not if, at Asante Kotoko SC, fans only have eyes for one goalkeeper – and understandably so.

 

Abalora is returning to the country after a spell in Tanzania where he played for Azam FC. Years of ups and downs capped off an ultimate invitation and subsequent appearance for the Black Stars when he kept the post against Asian champions Qatar in a friendly.

 
Abalora's arrival- along with the signing of other exciting players - gives Kotoko fans a lot to be happy about in a rather confusing era under Maxwell Konadu. It's not all as easy as that, though, as the former WAFA goal custodian's presence at Kotoko is bound to hurt someone. That someone is Felix Annan.
 
Annan signed for the Porcupine Warriors in 2011 from the then Gomoa Fetteh Feyenoord Football Academy where he started learning the ropes.
 
It looked like a bargain at the time, and to an extent, it has been. Since returning from a loan at WAFA, Annan has been the safest pair of hands at the club until he was dislodged by Kwame Baah in the truncated league, but with Abalora arriving and he Is likely to fall down the pecking order.
 
When fit and in good health, there aren't many goalkeepers on the local scene that can compare to Annan. In addition to his natural athleticism and superb reflexes, he is known for his positioning, stature, and bravery. He is also known for being a vocal presence in the team, constantly shouting orders at defenders, and otherwise imposing his authority.
 
Felix Annan is so good because he makes  the great saves look routine. Effortless.  An unbelievable reader of the game, his positioning is supremely accurate, which allows him to be a step ahead of oncoming shots a lot of the time. 
 
But even when that wasn't enough, his reactions were razor-sharp. He is capable of outstanding diving efforts, sweeping up danger one on one, and producing decisive penalty saves on the big stage. 
 
Sadly, his stock has fallen significantly due to limited playing time. He felt the brunt of managerial change last season, which has left question marks over his ability in the long term from some Kotoko fans. Konadu's signing of another national goalkeeper Razak Abalora- reaffirmed those doubts.
 
A healthy bit of competition between the trio (Annan, Baah and Abalora) would usually spark some sort of reaction, but Annan has endured a rather difficult and uncreative 2020. 
 
Since the turn of the year, the 25-year-old has struggled to keep up with Baah. With Abalora now expected to be in the mix, it seems like he's the man to take up Konadu's senior, experienced place in the team in rotation with Baah and Annan.
 
So, where does it leave Annan?
 
Asante Kotoko and Annan's representatives remain locked in a contract standoff and it looks increasingly likely that the Baba Yara fan favourite will be leaving as a free agent when his contract runs out next year.
 
It would be a tremendous shame for the club to lose a player with great personality and professionalism, someone who appears to have genuinely bought into Kotoko more than most, who rose through the ranks to captain the club.
 
There can be no questioning Annan's professionalism, attitude, or desire to succeed, but he arguably lacks the innate quality that would make him an automatic starter every game in a team with genuine ambitions of winning the Premier League and a continental silverware.
 
That isn't to say that he isn't good enough for Kotoko. But his prolonged place at the club is that of a dependable squad rotation player.
 
The Porcupine Warriors will be in no rush to boot him out of the door, but if Annan wants to get the best out of his career and enjoy regular first-team action, now is the time to push for that move away and get out from under the shadow of the incoming Razak Abalora and already existing Kwame Baah.
 
At 25 years of age, there is still plenty of growing, improving, and maturing that Annan may do. He still has a future with the Black Stars and the Black Stars B but...
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