Asante Kotoko have no option but to wait for another season to fight for a league title. Kotoko are record Ghana Premier League title holders with 23 trophies but have failed to glitter in Africa in the past editions. Before the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League started, they had been tipped to win the league following a massive recruitment exercise by the Nana Yaw Amponsah led administration. Then coach, Maxwell Konadu started on a good note but eventually left after the management decided to dispense with his service mid-way through the season.
There was a new era that dawned on Kotoko with assistants, Johnson Smith and Abdualai Gazale relegated to less important roles to make way for former Black Stars coach, Mariano Baretto. The former Black Stars coach was tasked to end an eight year trophy drought for the Porcupine Warriors but mixed results in the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League did not allow Barreto have a smooth sail. Fast forward to the last five games of the season, Barreto led Kotoko to six points out of three games with a 1-0 defeat against Hearts of Oak the most painful result. Barreto was suspended for their last two matches for misconduct where Kotoko drew 1-1 with King Faisal before falling to Bechem United 2-1 which eventually handed their rivals, Hearts of Oak their 21st league title and the first in 11-years.
The title loss to Hearts of Oak gained momentum when they lost 1-0 to their rivals which saw the Phobians stretch their lead to three points on the league summit. The three points lead meant that, Kotoko needed to fight to win the remaining three games and hope Hearts of Oak faltered along the way. That idea was somehow on course when Hearts drew 1-1 with Ebusua Dwarfs and Kotoko equally drawing 1-1 with King Faisal. But unfortunately for the Porcupine Warriors, they lost 2-1 to Bechem United at the Nana Fosu Gyeabour Park in the penultimate league game with Hearts of Oak drawing 1-1 against Liberty Professionals at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday. With just a game to go, Kotoko have lost the title to Hearts of Oak as they sit second on the league log with 57 points, four less than Hearts of Oak.
A lot of factors might have played in Kotoko’s struggles in the last eight year trophy drought. They have changed 11-coaches in the last decade which somehow caused instability in the playing body. The Porcupine Warriors have gone eight seasons without a trophy and the search for a first title continues into the next season. The two times CAF Champions League winners must now turn their attention to winning the MTN FA Cup to stand a chance of playing in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Asante Kotoko have won the African Cup of Champions Club now known as the CAF Champions League two times. They won the two titles first in 1970 and the second in 1983. They are second to Hearts of Oak regarding the number of FA Cups won in Ghana. They have nine titles to their credit but have not won the CAF’s second tier competition, which is the Confederation Cup.They have made 10 appearances in the CAF Champions League plus the previous participation on 16 times.
Asante Kotoko have a final game against strugglers, Elmina Sharks at the Obuasi Len Clay Stadium on Sunday, July 18 to wrap up the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season. The Porcupine Warriors will play for pride as they have lost the league title to Hearts of Oak. Sharks on the other hand must play their hearts out as they need points badly to retain their premier league status for next season. Kotoko rivals, Hearts of Oak on the hand will play WAFA at the Sogakope Park and they will play for formalities and honour as they have already won the league.