Today In Sports History: Ghana Football Icon Cecil Jones Attuquayefio Dead, Checkout His Illustrious Coaching Career
Cecil Jones Attuquayefio born on the 18th October 1944 was a loyal servant of Accra Great Olympics -Hearts of Oak’s city rivals – but it was with HEARTS of OAK that he made his name as a coach. He died two years ago, 12th May 2015, after a long illness.
Attuquayefio’s footballing career spanned almost 20years. He started with Ghana Academicals in the early sixties, transferred to Accra Standfast F.C for a short-stint, later joined Ghana Republicans and finally settled with Accra Great Olympics – where he played from 1966-1974- during their most successful spell in Ghana football which culminated in two league titles in a space of four years. He was a member of the Black Star team that won the African Nations Cup in 1965.
His coaching career kicked off right after his playing days, his first job was with the Accra Great Olympics team in the mid-seventies. He managed the “wonder club” for almost a decade. He was the Assistant-coach of the Black Stars from 1985-1987.
He managed three teams in four years between 1988 and 1993. He was in charge of Okwahu United for a year and proceeded to Cote d’Ivoire where he managed local giants, Stade Abidjan. He was not there for long and came back to Coach Obuasi Goldfields-present day AshantiGold FC- from 1990-1995; the first three years was spent with the senior team and the last two years were with the Academy side of Obuasi Goldfields.
Attuquayefio was appointed manager of Accra HEARTS OF OAK in 1998. He brought a new dimension to the reigning Ghana League Champions. Attuquayefio’s Hearts of Oak made it into the Group Stages of the CAF Champions League where they placed second in Group A level on points with Power Dynamos of Zimbabwe who had a superior goal difference.
Hearts and Attuquayefio were back in Africa the following year, but after whipping Ela Nguema of Equatorial Guinea 9-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round, the euphoria was quickly subdued when they placed third in their Group, unable to better the record of the previous year. Hearts went on to retain the Ghana league title which was Cecil Jones’ second league triumph with the club.
After those two unsuccessful stints on the African continent, Cecil Jones moulded -arguably- Hearts of Oak’s greatest team. The lessons in the previous fiasco were learned; the shenanigans of away and home games on the continent were understood; the will-power to not succumb was inculcated into the players. The alchemist and leader of men had found his right formula and with it the antidote to dominate the African terrain.
The new, rectified and fortified team Attuquayefio created came to be known as “BATTALION 64.” Some of the notably members of the “64 Battalion” were: Sammy Adjei, Africa’s Best Goal-keeper at Junior level in 1999, took over the goalkeeping reigns from Eben “Dida” Armah and James Nanor; Stephen Tetteh and the veteran -erstwhile midfielder- E. Agyeman Duah were the heart of the defense. They complemented each other perfectly with Stephen Tetteh, the young, energetic and tower of strength; on the other hand, Agyeman Duah brought experience, calmness and composure to the defense. (Sannie Wahab, the best Hearts defender at the time, missed the final. Agyeman Duah replaced him at the back.)
On the right of defense was the mercurial and marauding Yaw Amankwah Mireku; Captain Jacob Nettey: reliable, hardworking, indefatigable and passionate occupied the left flank.
The centre of battle and the hub of the team had the combative, hard tackling, athletic, Lawrence Adjah Tetteh( a mirror-image-of-Edmund Copson) who win the ball and distribute it effectively; and the silent, wily, shadow wall Joe Ansah marshalling the midfield.
Charles Taylor and Charles Allotey occupied the left and right of midfield respectively. The former, a very skillful, quick, left-footed, defense terrorising, slippery and trickery Charles Taylor; the latter, a very small, underrated, hardworking, passionate, gutty and pocket-Hercules Charles Allotey.
Ishmael Addo, the precocious, pacey, and finisher extra-ordinaire, added youthful enthusiasm to the front-line in tandem with Emmanuel Osei-Kuffor – the General- as he was named by the fans.
Emmanuel Osei-Kuffor, the erstwhile right-back, had been converted to a striker by Cecil Jones Attuquayefio. Osei-Kuffor was creative as a playmaker, and had a strikers instinct in equal measure but his greatest attribute was his composure and calmness-personified in front of goal – Emmanuel Osei Kuffor was the top-scorer in the 2000 CAF Champions League.
As the saying goes, ” A team is as good as its bench” and so the equally talented men were the backbone of the team: J. Nanor, Eben Armah; Justice Ampah, James Zoglo, Emmanuel Donkor, Emmanuel Adjogu, Ali Kwame, Dan Quaye, and man-mountain Osmanu Amadu.
HEARTS OF OAK and Attuquayefio were making history, sweeping all before them on the domestic stage thanks in no small part to the trilogy of Osei Kuffor, Ishmael Addo and Charles Taylor. They were unplayable at times and rightly regarded as one of the continent’s finest combinations. The pair registered more than 15 goals between them in the CAF CL.
Attuquayefio’s artistic team, the 64 battalion, went on to win the CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE in 2000 -defeating Esperance in Tunis (ending a close to 30 years home invincibility record of the North Africans in continental football) and winning the return leg 5-2 on aggregate at Accra. The appurtenance of their success was the sweeping of all the domestic trophies in the year 2000. The icing on the continental cake was the 2-0 win over African giants, Zamalek SC of Egypt, in the Super Cup the following year.
Attuquayefio’s team had rigour at the back, finesse in the middle and panache in front of goal. But of all the qualities that got them through -and distinguished them from the Hearts of Oak team of old- was the we-shall-not-be-over-awed never say die attitude. This conviction was accentuated when they came from a goal and a man down, to beat Esperance 2-1 in Tunis.
Attuquayefio had succeeded where Charles Addo Odametey had failed twice; the battalion 64 had laid down the gauntlet for the legendary “fearsome-five” squad which comprised Robert Hammond, Mama Musah Acquah, Peter Lamptey, Anas Seidu and Mohammed Ahmed Polo. They had -in effect- threatened the very existence of the afore-mentioned quintessential “fearsome-five” squad in the pantheons of Accra Hearts of Oak Legends; they had marked their claim, rejoiced where the erstwhile deities had mourned, and had usurped all the HEARTS OF Oak sides before them as the greatest side ever assembled in the then 93-year history of the Oak tree.
Yes, they were guided, regimented, drilled, indoctrinated, mollycoddled and masterminded by the great CECIL JONES ATTUQUAYEFIO – Accra Hearts of Oak’s coach of the century.
J ATTUQUAYEFIO: MAJOR HONOURS WITH HEARTS OF OAK
CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE STATS: 1
1998: P10 W5 D3 L2 GF10 GA8 – Group Stage
1999: P10 W5 D3 L2 GF20 GA7 – Group Stage
2000: P12 W8 D3 L1 GF25 GA 12 – Winners (Champions)
2001: P2 W1 D0 L1 GF4 GA 6 – First Round
CONFEDERATION CUP: 1
2004*: P10 W6 D3 L1 GF13 GA 7
*Ernst Middendorp had managed the team till the last round before the group stages. Cecil Jones took over and won the maiden trophy.
SUPER CUP: 1
Ghana Premier League Champion: 5
1998, 1999, 2000,2001 and 2004/2005
Attuquayefio, Accra Hearts of Oak, Ghana and Africa is grateful for the years of service to HUMANITY. Ayekoo.