There is a familiar sinking feeling for fans of Ghana giants Kumasi Asante Kotoko after they were knocked out of the Confederation Cup in the first round by CARA Brazzaville of Congo.
Not for the first time, the domestic heavyweights will be forced to observe other clubs compete for continental honours while they’re left reminiscing about the good old days
The Porcupine Warriors have long considered themselves among Africa’s giants, and speak with immense pride about their two African titles and historic battles with the likes of SC Zamalek and Al-Ahly in front of huge crows in Kumasi.
However, these days, every passing continental campaign dims the side’s standing and undermines their bragging rights.
The defeat in Brazzaville on Wednesday will lead to even more questions about their standing within the continent’s hierarchy.
That loss was largely of their own doing as well – and the humiliation will be as harsh as the heartbreak after Kotoko missed three penalties in the first leg during 90 minutes before failing with another four in the shootout at the conclusion of the return fixture.
Putting their recent failure into context, Kotoko have now not reached the group stage of either the CAF Champions League or Confederation Cup since 2008, with the Second Round their best result in the last decade.
Certainly, failure to beat a side from Congo-Brazzaville demonstrates just how far the Porcupines have fallen from the days when they considered themselves equals with some of Africa’s giants.
They haven’t won the African Champions Cup since 1983, but that triumph now seems like a distant memory, despite fleeting signs in the intervening years that the good times may return.
They lost the 1993 final to Zamalek , failed to beat Wydad Casablanca in the final Africa Cup Winners Cup final in 2002, and were beaten by local rivals Accra Hearts of Oak in the final of the 2004 Confederation Cup.
Those moments – all disappointments – are becoming increasingly few and far between.
Unlike in the past, Kotoko and other Ghanaian clubs are unable to hold onto their best players, with even nations such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia able to offer a higher income and quality of life for the Ghana Premier League’s top players.
Kotoko’s Preliminary Round failure is not only evidence of a fallen giant even further on the wane, but, with the domestic Ghana battling minimal investment and internal strife, of a domestic league that can no longer compete with Africa’s best.
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