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22.10.2008 Football News

Kotoko Down, Out

Kotoko Down, Out

A second attempt by Kumasi Asante Kotoko to reclaim their place in continental soccer via the CAF Confederation Cup has fizzled out, but with a monetary reward of $100,000.

The post-mortem has already started, but there is the likelihood of their elimination triggering a shake-up in the technical and playing body.

The Ghanaian champions fell 1-2 to Sudanese side El-Merreikh in the last match of Group B and slumped to bottom placing of the group on seven points.

In their first attempt at the Cup in 2004, the Porcupine Warriors lost to arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak in a penalty shoot out in Kumasi.

Kotoko's exit from this year's tournament was indeed disappointing and saddened, but they can only learn from their mistakes and rebuild.

Entering the competition with some talented young players like Eric Bekoe, who remains the top scorer in the competition with 10 goals, Jordan Opoku and Nii Adjei, Kotoko's exit could be a rude introduction to life in Africa.

With Kotoko out, the stage is now set for an all-Tunisia final as Etoile Sportive du Sahel, who topped Group B, battle it out with rivals CS Sfaxien, Group A champions.

Etoile killed any hopes of Asante Kotoko in the competition by holding them to a 2-2 draw in the penultimate group match in Kumasi.

Once again, the North Africa dominance had prevailed and perhaps a befitting grand finale is anticipated.

Prize money of $330,000 awaits the champions to emerge from the two-leg final in November.

Even as they fell out of the Confederation Cup, Kotoko would once again have the opportunity to prove their mettle in Africa next season via the prestigious CAF Champions League.

But against the backdrop that the performance in the Confederation Cup would affect the team in the seeding of next year's Champions League, Kotoko would need to seriously get their act together for the task ahead.

Persistently, management had driven home the need to revamp the team for the next season in view of the enormity of the task in the Champions League.

Perhaps, that is why they have taken their recruitment drive outside Africa and have reportedly invited four players, two each from Mali and Nigeria for possible registration.

It was amazing the manner Asante Kotoko lost matches away in the CAF tournament. They conceded two away goals in each of the matches played away. Could it have been inexperience on the part of the players or technical deficiency?

If maintained for the next season, Coach Bashir Hayford, who has had some brushes with management over contract and disciplinary matters, would have to put in extra efforts to confront the challenges.

Story by Kwame Asare Boadu