Not many African coaches are hired by neighboring countries for their senior national teams, unless the output is so glaring in the eyes of the average football fan.
Ibrahim Tanko is not only an assistant coach to an African giant, but is loved by many of his colleagues on the technical bench of the Indomitable Lions.
Having seen it all at the elite stage of world football, the former King Faisal youth prodigy is now leaving his mark from the touch line.
Not only was he the second Ghanaian player to win the European champions league, he was in fact the youngest player to make his debut for a Iduna side in Germany.
Born in Kumasi , on the 25th of July, 1977, little Tanko was spotted and enrolled into the King Faisal youthful side as early as 1992. As a forward player in his youthful stage, Ibrahim Tanko’s goal exploits were not that extra ordinary, as 12 goals in 2 years ended his stink with Kumasi based premier club.
He achieved what was only a dream in his youthful career, a contract with a European club at just 17 years, with BVD in Germany. His romance with the Borrusia based club might be plighted by recurrent knee injury, as his 3 goals in 52 appearance lasted for 6 years, though he won the European Champions League in 1997 with the yellow army at the signally iduna park.
His transfer to SC Freiburg was always going to come, bearing in mind his 52 games spanning for over 5 seasons at the 1997 European champions. Tanko managed 5 goals in another 7 season marriage with Freiburg from total of 106 appearances. He had torrid times with the national team too, as his solitary 10 caps spanning an 8 year period, produced no goal in the national jersey.
He left the black stars in 2004, after a qualifier against DR Congo, having made his debut in 1996.
His managerial CV however, seems to have outweighed his on the field contributions or achievements.
Having been plighted by the worst of all enemies footballers can face, his knee injury only served as a transition rather than quitting.
He left the rectangular pitch for the touchline in September 2007, as an assistant coach of SC Freiburg. He stayed with his former employers for one more year before joining Urawa Red Diamonds in the Japanese super league, as an assistant coach once again, in the 2009-10 season.
His exploits in the J-league raised the alarm bells about his managerial qualities. Another Bundesliga club, this FC koln, engaged him as head of scout to confirm the faith they reposed in him. He went on to become the club’s assistant coach in the 2011-12 soccer season in the elite league in Germany.
This time his meteoric rise in stature, drew the attention of the GFA, who contracted him for the 2012-13 soccer season, ahead of 2012 nations cup. The managerial consistency of Ibrahim Tanko then reached personal high, when the indomitable lions of Cameroon contracted him in 2013 , where he works as an assistant coach till now.
He might be the third youngest player to play for Borrusia Dortmund, behind only Nuri Sahin and lars Ricken, but his managerial output is almost at par with the current animated BVB head coach, Jurgen Klopp.
Is it a case of prophet not honoured in his own home land? If Ibrahim Tanko is deemed good enough to handle global stars like Samuel Eto’o, Nikolai Nkoulou and Stephanie Mbia, why not the likes of little and well behaved Solomon Asantes and Harrison Afful?
In an interview with,Sheikh Tophic, a sports crusader correspondent, the former black stars player, Mallam Yaya confirm the managerial class of the former King Faisal youth prodigy.
Mallam said, “coaches like Tanko Ibrahim are rare commodities in the market, he is an exceptional Ghanaian coach”. Must we wait until the former youth prodigy comes to hunt us before we give a chance? Well , the nations’ cup might pitch us together if we both progressed further.
Ibrahim Tanko might not be a household name like the Opele’s, the Oti Akenten’s, Sellas Tetteh or J. E Sarpong, but his managerial CV is as rich as any oil family member in Russia or Qatar. Hope the powers that be are reading?