Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Kotoko - Six Times Finalists In African Club Championships

Ebo Quansah

The 1983 African clubs championship, the most popular sporting event after the Cup of Nations, is likely to be decided between defending champions El-Ahly (National) of Egypt and Ghana's Asante Kotoko.

The two giants who battled for honours in last year's finals are through to the semi-finals against opposition they are tipped to overcome. Kotoko face Jaraafs of Senegal, while El-Ahly take on Nkawa Red Devils of Zambia.

For Kotoko, this year has witnessed their most trying moment in the history of the club that draws inspiration from the Golden Stool of Ashanti and the fact the they have put those problems behind them to defend successfully their league title in Ghana and advance to the semi-finals of the highly competitive club championship underscores the fact that nothing can stop the red-shirted lads in their search for the "Golden Fleece", this year.

Confusion nearly disintegrated the Oseikrom lads at the beginning of the 1982 football season. Ripples of the trouble were carried from their 1982 failure to capture the continental trophy in their two-leg final engagement with El-Ahly.

Accusing fingers were directed at Various personalities within the club. While some blamed the players particularly, former skipper Opoku Afriyie, others held the management headed by Chairman, Ernest Yaw Ofori Bawuah responsible.

It was said that a lot of money went into poaching arrangements for new players in addition to transfer fees which were for Black Star performers, & 75,000 pegged at 100,000 each for members of the national team 'B' and 50,000 for first division players.

A section of Kotoko's loyal players accused the management of wanton dissipation of the club's money in the transfer exercise. They expressed dissatisfaction with their bonus which was said to be about $20,000 each. Chairman Yaw Bawuah replied with reprisal measures. The club's captain Opoku Afriyie, who led the agitation was "retired from active football".

Opoku Afriyie challenged his retirement saying the chairman acted "ultra vires." Albert Asase and Kofi Badu migrated to the Ivory Coast. 'Nana Yaw Owusu, a member of the management Committee resigned and was followed by Osei Poku. A lot of hot air was blown and Mr. Yaw Bawuah later sued Osei Poku in court for defamation.

Osei Poku replied by sending the club's chairman to court on the grounds that he had flouted the club's constitution for failing to render accounts more than six calendar months after taking office.

Appeals to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, forced the Ashanti King to demand the return of Opoku Afriyie and the end to all in-fighting.

Mr. Yaw Bawuah refused to invite Opoku Afriyie and instead tendered his resignation.

Otumfuo, the Asantehene, had to act and he did so with the rejection of Mr. Bawuah's resignation. The boss staged a come-back with the re-organization of his executive in which several members lost their posts.

In spite of all these, Kotoko forged ahead winning the Ghanaian league with impunity and advancing into the semi-finals with glorious victories.

The Ghanaian champions eliminated ABC Anges of Gabon, whipped F.C. Lupopo of Congo 4-3 on aggregate and kicked out A.S. Bilima 3-2 to move to the semi-finals.

With their problems over, it is not likely that Kotoko will yield to the pressures of Jaraafs of Senegal in the semi-finals. If they succeed, it would be their historic sixth appearance in the finals of this competitions which they won in 1970.

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