Asante Kotoko; ‘Africa’s Greatest Club’ Must Buy Best Foreign Talents

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Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, former Asante Kotoko and Berekum Arsenal midfielder, Johnson Smith, former coach and player of the Porcupine Warriors have advised the Reds to augment their squad with the best players from the continent.

The CAF Champions League is no joke and any team desirous of making a mark must parade the best of players.

When you look at the history of Kotoko, one of the achievements you see is that they were the first Ghanaian side to become African Champions – by clinching the 1970 Africa Cup of Champions Cup now christened the Champions League.

The Porcupines went on to become champions of Africa again thirteen years later by defeating Al Ahly in the final after losing the previous 1982 final to same opponent and by this time, for instance, Wydad Athletic Club (WAC) of Morocco were yet to play in Africa’s premier competition. They did not form part of the elite sides by this time.

However, WAC, who made their debut in the competition in 1987, waited for five years to win their first continental honour by annexing the 1992 CAF Champions League title after defeating Al Hilal of Sudan 2-0 on aggregate in the final two legged-match. WAC have gone on to snatch big trophies from the hands of big teams on the continent. The 2002-Cup Winners Cup trophy was landed at the expense of Asante Kotoko and the 2017 Champions League was taken from Africa’s number one team, Al Ahly.

Thanks to three continental titles, WAC have massively closed the gap on the elite African sides such as Kotoko (2 CL) Hafia Conakry (3 CL), Esperance Tunis (3 CL, 1 Cup Winner’s Cup), Etoile Sportive du Sahel (1, CL, 2 CC, 2 Cup Winners Cup) and others.

“Of course, the standard to measure Kotoko is not WAC. But looking at the fact that the Moroccan club, that entered the Champions league thirteen years ago haVE gone on to win as many Champions League titles as the Porcupine Warriors is certainly something that cannot be ignored when Asante Kotoko continue to live in the past, counting on 1983 African title as its last major honor. Thirty-six years are too long a period of decline in Africa and it is a shameful failure that must change.”

What did WAC do right to be at the top?

Squad quality comes to mind first, not mass buying. To be able to compete into deeper ends of the African competitions, a team needs quality: both technical and squad quality. And it is here that Asante Kotoko, like other Ghanaian teams, have been falling short, disgracefully, year after year.

The Congolese winger Fabrice Ondama, who assisted Thievy Biffouma in the Ghana 1-1 drawn game with Congo in Kumasi in 2017 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers was playing for WAC that year. The Liberia national team forward William Jebor who was nominated for the 2016 African footballer of the year was also on the books of the Moroccans that year. There were also big names like Nigerian’s Chisom Chikatara.

“The big teams do big signings. They sign the best and so the club of the century must be buying the best foreign players, at least from Africa.”

That is the only way Kotoko can make an impact in the 2019/2020 Champions League. The competition in Africa has become so strong that a club needs better structure and strong finance to be able to compete creditably and Kotoko must dance to the current musical tunes.

Look, when TP Mazsembe dominated Africa in 2009 and 2010 in a row and went on to play Inter Milan in 2010 in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, they had assembled and combined local Congolese talents like Robert Kidiaba, Tresor Mputu, Behdi Mbenza and foreign imports such as Narcisse Nganga from Equatorial-Guinea and Zambian playmaker Kabangu Mulota.

Some years ago, we witnessed Mazembe descending heavily on the country (Ghana) and shipping the best Ghana Premier League talents in Gladson Awako, Solomon Asante, Richard Kissi Boateng from Berekum Chelsea and Daniel Nii Adjei [who joined after leaving the Porcupine Warriors]. Kotoko, Hearts of Oak could not compete against mega-rich and all-powerful Mazembe. The outcome of this Mazembe shopping in Ghana was overwhelming. 2015 Champions League title and 2017 Confederation Cup triumph including several domestic laurels.

So far as the likes of TP Mazembe, WAC and Al Ahly continue to buy the ‘BEST’ from anywhere,  they will continue to share the continental titles. As you lay your bed, so must you lie on it and reap what you sow.

As it stands, Kotoko have officially recruited twelve players with more to follow according to reports as part of their preparations towards their Champions League campaign.

Asante Kotoko, a club that take so much pride in being the IFFHS Africa club of the century and as Ghana’s most successful club must be able to buy the most quality players from outside the country and not just any player to truly demonstrate that pride and greatness. Kotoko’s big history automatically generates high expectations and the club must live up to such expectations.

But what do you see? If you look at the preparation and the transfer policy of the club now, you always have the feeling they are going to be disgraced in Africa again. They give no hope and the sooner proper measures are put in place the better the chances of boosting our co-efficient strength in the CAF 5-year rankings.

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