Ghanaian giants Kumasi Asante Kotoko have been drawn against Entente Sportive Sétifienne of Algeria after a failed spirited attempt to reach the group stage of the 2020/21 CAF Champions League for the first time since 2006.
The Porcupine Warriors elimination came in dubious circumstance that have left ooficials of the side chasing CAF for remedies. After they were defeated by Al Hilal by 1 – 0 in the first leg of their First Round clash in their adopted home grounds, the Accra Sports Stadium in the national capital, the second-leg was expected to be a tough challenge for the Oseikrom boys but what transpired was rather bizarre and leaves many wondering how it all happened and whether there was foul play as Kotoko claims.
Al Hilal vrs Asante Kotoko Game called off as we await CAF decision.— Asante Kotoko SC (@AsanteKotoko_SC) January 6, 2021
Asante Kotoko has officially petitioned CAF on the overwhelming anomalies Association with our covid 19 results .
Details soon pic.twitter.com/nCKvQtk3vr
The Kumasi giants said all their players and officials tested negative for COVID-19 before their departure in Accra only for seven players and four officials to return positive test in Sudan before the clash. The seven positive cases among the players meant Kotoko could not raise more than 14 players for the clash as CAF rules requires.
Game on temporary hold as we await the delivery of “the missing Covid result” of one Asante Kotoko player. pic.twitter.com/Vb4unya25g— Asante Kotoko SC (@AsanteKotoko_SC) January 6, 2021
It did not end without serious complaints as officials of the Ghanaian side suspect foul play citing various anomalies in the results presented to them.
Club Notice pic.twitter.com/uVRJLtNdmr— Asante Kotoko SC (@AsanteKotoko_SC) January 6, 2021
Kotoko earned a walk over in the second leg of their preliminary round clash against Nouadhibou after the travelling team rejected two PCR test results rendering the clash impossible. The match which was scheduled for Saturday, 5th December was postponed to Sunday, 6th December after the visitors had two of their players returned positive which made it impossible to get the required number for the match. CAF stepped in and ordered that both teams retake the test under the supervision of its appointed Medical Officer. However, Nouadhibou rejected the second test results leading to the cancellation of the match and Kotoko awarded a 2-0 win making it 3-1 on aggregate to grant them passage into the next round.
The drama raises many questions in the minds of onlookers as many are wondering if Kotoko’s vehement protest means there could be a linkage to their own story in December. It may not be sufficient to conclude that Kotoko had a hand in the outcome of the results in Accra against Nouadhibou but it is not far from the truth as this is possible in any human setting. However it may be viewed, Kotoko at least also deserved a chance to retake the test as was the case in Accra against Nouadhibou. They also deserved a replay opportunity as was granted their opponents in the Preliminary Round.
Kotoko has now been relegated to the second tier of CAF’s competitions as CAF has announced the fixtures for the next round of both the Champions League and the Confederation Cup. Kotoko has however in a statement said an official complaint has been lodged to CAF through the GFA and also assured fans and the general public of their resolve to ensure the right thing is done through legitimate means.
Club Notice— Asante Kotoko SC (@AsanteKotoko_SC) January 6, 2021
David Obeng Nyarko ( Communications Manager ) and Dr. Twumasi Baah ( Team Doctor ) will speak live on https://t.co/YwBVUrd1aQ at 15:00hrs GMT / 3pm Ghana time and explain the issues to our Stakeholders, fans and general public .
Thank you pic.twitter.com/TgBwG4btxB
The wait is on, fans are eager and all expect that the right thing be done and hopefully the continent’s governing body comes clean on this and maintain the sanity of the competition. No one said Kotoko was guaranteed a place in the Play-off stage having seen them display impotency in the last game and succumbed to a defeat that could have been a resounding victory had they turned up in their elements.
The wait for Kotoko and Ghana’s glory in the elite competition has now been in the meantime extended by a year but as the Fabulous fraternity say, Kum Apem, Apem Beba, the end is not here as they will keep coming again and again. The fans maybe peeved but all hope is not lost and maximum support is needed to ensure they can do well in the Cup competition should the verdict stay same and they decide to participate. The Kotoko playing body and management would also learn their lessons to kill games when they have the chance and not to wait for a repeat of this to happen. This has taken over the shame brought on the team by players protest for money in the lead up to the game which led to suggestions that players would be sacked when they return to Ghana. Lessons well learned. Can we now see the actions?