Kotoko’s quest to rediscover lost glory in Africa

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It has been 36 years the last time Asante Kotoko S/C were crowned African champions.
The legendary Samuel Opoku Nti (Lord Zico) who scored Kotoko’s winning goal in the grand finale against Egypt’s Al-Ahly in Kumasi in 1983, recalled the euphoric scenes after the match in a recent interview.
“The atmosphere was electrifying as the enthusiastic teeming supporters struggled to catch a glimpse of the trophy,” he told the Ghana News Agency (GNA).
It was the second time the Porcupine Warriors, Ghana’s most successful club, was lifting the trophy, having won it for the first time in 1971.
With more than ten appearances in the grand finale of Africa’s most prestigious club competition, the CAF Champions League, it is understandable, the frustrations of stakeholders regarding the club’s inability to rediscover its household name and once fearsome form.
The Porcupine Warriors apparently perturbed by the long delay in annexing the African trophy, have made their intentions clear as they commenced the 2019-2020 CAF Champs League with a comprehensive victory over visiting Kano Pillars.
Kotoko beat their Nigerian counterparts 2-0 in the second leg to advance to the next stage of the preliminary round with a 4-3 goal aggregate, having lost 2-3 in the first leg.
“Our philosophy is to give it all in whatever we do – whether at training or match day,” Kotoko’s Coach, Kjetil Zachariassen, told a post-match press conference at the Baba Yara Stadium.
Indeed, the above statement is on point and for a club touted as ‘Africa’s Club of the Century’, the playing body would be the first to admit the herculean task ahead.
The Ghanaian club are billed to play Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel in their next fixture, a battle they need to overcome in order to realize their dreams.
Coach Zachariassen said their philosophy “is to work as a team, play offensive football and defend as a unit”.
Commenting on the up-coming clash, Kotoko’s skipper, Felix Annan, said they were in the right mood for the encounter.
“We are not afraid of any African club. We are approaching each match with all the seriousness it deserves as and when they come,” he noted.
Kotoko is buoyed by their participation in last year’s CAF Confederations Cup competition in which they made a group stage appearance, the first to be achieved by the club over a decade.
The current generation of the Porcupine Warriors – Skipper Felix Annan, Ampem DaCosta, Habib Mohammed, Justice Blay, Richard Arthur, Naby Keita, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Patrick Yeboah, Samuel Frimpong, amongst others, are aware of the difficult challenges they may be confronted with as the competition progresses.
A look back at previous performances by the club, especially in Africa’s most prestigious club competition, points to the fact that Kotoko would have to work hard in all departments.
Since CAF, the continental football governing body, decided to go the Champions’ League system in 1997, Kotoko had made it not more than once into the group stage.
This development had drawn concern from no other person than Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Owner and Spiritual Leader of the club.
The king in his numerous meetings with the club has constantly admonished stakeholders to play their respective roles effectively in order to bring back the glory days of the Porcupine Warriors.
Understandably, it is an advice no one can gloss over since an excellent performance by any Ghanaian club at the continental level tend to have corresponding effect on the competitiveness of the local game and socio-economic lives of the people.

By PATIENCE BOAKYE

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