Ghana’s two biggest clubs, Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak are built on the modules of European giants, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, AC and Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and probably Paris St. Germain. This is because the clubs mentioned above are results oriented and nothing will stop them from wanting to win glory every season. The case of Kotoko and Hearts of Oak in Ghana is strange as both clubs have gone some season’s without trophies. Hearts of Oak have gone 12-years without a trophy with Kotoko’s last league trophy coming in the 2013-14 season. The focus of this write up is on Asante Kotoko who have won the Ghana Premier League for 23-times.
The Porcupine Warriors, apart from being the record Ghana Premier League holders, have collected nine FA Cup into their wardrobe with the last being the 3-1 win over rivals, Hearts of Oak at the Tamale Sports Stadium in 2017. Apart from the FA Cup which came three years ago, the Porcupine Warriors have not come close to any domestic or continental trophy in the last eight years.
Talking about the continental trophy, Kotoko have a rich curriculum when it comes to appearances in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup. Kotoko have made 16 appearances in the then AFRICA CUP OF CHAMPIONS CLUBS now the CAF Champions League. Out of the 16 appearances, Kotoko have won it on two occasions in 1970 and 1983. In CAF’s second tier competition which is the CAF Confederation Cup, Kotoko have appeared six times but have not won a single trophy in that competition. The Porcupine Warriors are however named alongside top African clubs, Esperance, Al Ahly, Etoile Du Sahel, Zamalek and TP Mazembe in CAF’s Club of the Century which is a feather in their tea cup.
In August, 2020, Nana Yaw Amponsah was named Chief Executive Officer to steer Kotoko for the next three years following the departure of the George Amoako led administration. In those three years, he has been tasked to turn the club into a viable business entity, win a domestic trophy and as well return the club to Africa competition. The task has not been easy for the Sports Lawyer since taking charge despite a massive sponsorship drive into the club. Nana Yaw Amponsah’s administration was able to bring in new kit sponsor which is ERREA as well as other supporting sponsors to the club.
Under Nana Yaw Amponsah, former Ghana coach, Mariano Baretto was roped in to man the affairs of the club’s technical team after the departure of Maxwell Konadu. Baretto has not done badly in the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League having guided Kotoko into second place after taking charge mid-way through the season. The task to win the league has however become a bit difficult after Kotoko lost 1-0 to bitter rivals, Hearts of Oak at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, June 27 in match day 31. The defeat left Kotoko three points behind Hearts of Oak who are on 59 points in first as against Kotoko’s 56 in second. With three matches to end the season and the kind of fixtures Kotoko have, it looks increasingly difficult that Kotoko will beat their rivals to the title which has eluded them for eight years. Kotoko will next play strugglers, King Faisal who are bent on escaping relegation in match day 32 on Sunday, July 4 at the Len Clay Stadium. Their penultimate game is against Bechem United before capping the season against Elmina Sharks who equally want to beat the drop.
The club’s fans have began calling for the head of coach Mariano Baretto for his failure to make Kotoko the ultimate winners with just three matches to end the season. Per the fans, Kotoko should have been run-away league winners considering the investment made by Nana Yaw Amponsah. But the question also remains that, all the premier league clubs have quality and Kotoko could not just override them and win the league easily. Should Mariano Baretto be sacked or should he be given another season to justify his capabilities? Only Kotoko’s top hierarchy can decided.