Asante Kotoko are not entirely having a bad season, not by the longest stretch. Yes, they’ve been eliminated in the MTN FA cup having lost to Asokwa Deportivo last weekend but they are still very much alive in the Premier League which obviously remains the topmost priority.
After 11 round of games, they lie fifth on the standings and are just three points adrift of leaders Ashanti Gold with their record so far this season reading 5 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses. They have scored ten goals and have shipped six with a goal difference of +4. Could they do better? Of course they could, this is Asante Kotoko we are talking about.
The lofty standards and expectations of the club means season in, season out they are expected to always be in the mix for when the major trophies are handed out at the end of the season. Everybody associated with the club demands that, not least the fans.
The FA cup is off the table but Kotoko are still very much in with a shout of adding to their 24 Premier League titles which still remains a record in the history of the topflight. So having noted all of this, why does it seem that there’s this big dark cloud surrounding the club which not torpedoed, could effectively impede chances of success this season for the club.
Just before the big kick-off of the season, Kotoko fans were greeted with one of the best news they could wish for. Most certainly they had been wishing for that for months and they quite rightly got their wish. Maxwell Konadu was named as coach amid much fanfare and there was nothing surprising about that, not least the attention and recognition it garnered among the Fabulous fraternity.
Konadu is adored and revered by the club chiefly because of his exploits for the club both as a player and coach having won the Premier League on the field for the club in 1992 and from the dugout as well in 2012. His return to the club was also seen as a breath of fresh air for the club at a time when the view from the dugout was not a pleasant one with the constant chopping and changing from Steve Polack, through to Paa Kwesi Fabin, CK Akonoor and then culminating in the very tumultuous reign of Kjetil Zachariassen.
The season started on a quite positive note with victories over Eleven Wonders and Legon Cities. But then the first piece of disaster this season struck for Kotoko in week three against Berekum Chelsea at the Babayara Stadium. With Chelsea picking maximum points in Kumasi, Kotoko fans felt aggrieved by refereeing decisions and chose to take matters into their own hands resulting in some very unfortunate scenes where fans got injured having found themselves in a fracas with the police.
What followed was a three game home ban where the club was asked to honor its home matches behind closed doors, one which has been duly served. In the midst of the ban, very impressive away victories were picked against Hearts and Dreams though the stalemates with Liberty and Ashanti Gold at home were regrettable.
Notwithstanding that, it was thought that the club, having successfully served the ban were finally on course to offer themselves some continuity needed for a title tilt devoid of such distractions. But Asante Kotoko have a funny knack for creating problems for themselves when there seems to be none.
Aduana were billed to host Asante Kotoko in Dormaa and what transpired before, during and after the game sent seismic waves across the local landscape in a game which will live long in the memory. It’s been a full week or so of incessant derision and mockery of the club and the massive criticisms which have been levelled towards the club since then have not covered the club in glory in any imaginable way. Needless to go through the Dormaa happenings again, very serious questions are still being asked of the standing of the club now and why they would contrive to self-destruct in such manner.
And with matters about the Dormaa fiasco not fully been dealt with yet, another distractive issue has rocked the Porcupine family. A leaked tape of the club’s Chairman, Dr. Kwame Kyei handing a dress-down to the players and berating them uncontrollably in a meeting have done very little to abate the problems engulfing and crippling the club at the moment.
Starting tonight in the game against Bechem United, Kotoko are set to be playing their home games at the Accra Sports Stadium till further notice with the Babayara Stadium under reconstruction and the club can ill-afford to be threading such waters at a time when they have had to vacate their spiritual home grounds.
The season is still very much salvageable and with the midway point even yet to be reached, Kotoko can still recover from their recent malaise and launch a proper assault on the rest of the division. But that can only be done on a united front and devoid of the polemics which are literally debilitating the club at the moment.
Victory against Bechem United tonight could be the catalyst for the renaissance but for their sake, Kotoko better heed the warning signs or they risk throwing their season out of the window entirely.