The verdict on Asante Kotoko’s show in CAF interclub competitions in the last decade has been unanimous – unanimously poor. That is worrying. From the Confederation Cup to the Champions League, the Porcupine experience has been failure to impress. Not a fabulous one. A tale of distress punctuates every Kotoko performance in Africa in recent years. It is time to end the trail of disappointment and supporters' pain.
We still have the second leg of the CAF Champions League, preliminary round fixture with Sudan’s Al Hilal to play but on the back of the first leg 0-1 loss in Accra, not even the diehard supporters really believe the Porcupines will qualify to the group stage of the competition, an achievement that has eluded us in the last 14 years. The latest loss to Al Hilal was not the first of such home humiliation.
Four years ago, El Eulma of Algeria dealt us a much painful blow beating us 2-1 in Kumasi after an impressive away draw. Al Hilal, our new foe are a known force in African club football but it is also true that our nemesis in Africa have been unknown, less-fancied clubs who easily carried out threats of eliminating us – reinforcing the bitter truth that we have ceased being a powerful force in continental club football.
If we are still in denial, Al Hilal reminded us of that fact. “Days like this is a reminder of how much Kotoko have fallen behind the top tier of African club football” wrote revered, senior sports journalist, Michael Oti Adjei after we lost to Al Hilal. “The Africa Champions League just seem to be a cut above Ghana’s best and that’s sad”. Very sad.
“Asante Kotoko stopped being a big club in Africa years ago. The club must accept this fact in humility, get back to the basics and try again” added another of our finest sports journalist, Gary Al-Smith. “The requirement to dominate Africa in 2020 is so far behind Kotoko – it is not even debatable” Gary stated.
It is time to remove our cloak of self-denial. It is time to end the delusion. We are not who or what we claim to be in Africa. The poor manner we have managed affairs and which sadly distances us from the mighty blocs in African football, is our bane. Let us confront the hard-to-accept truth now. Let us bury our pride, return to the basics and learn to communicate well to the fans what we intend to do with this club.
Gary Al-Smith sums it. “The monetary base, the patience to recruit, the technical plan to plot a future. The club does not have it now. [I] sincerely hope this management – who seem very pragmatic – are willing to pass this message on to supporters. It will be tough and humbling but it must be done”. I share Gary Al-Smith’s sentiments to the fullest.
We have a Management that has pledged to drive the club on a different course. Let us support them. Money is key but words cannot be minced about the recruitment we do every season. It is not fit for African club football. Then, the patience to build and how we communicate to fans. These we should not ignore as we seek a new life for the club. It is time to confront the bitter truth, work harder and back to the top.