By Anwar Umar Larry
Kumasi Asante Kotoko were at their ruthless best over the weekend as they humiliated Sony Ela Nguema 7-0 in the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.
The victory had led many soccer statisticians and football historians in Ghana to compare Kotoko’s overwhelming win over Sony Ela Nguema to two Accra Hearts of Oak sides.
The first being the 1999 Hearts of Oak side who had beaten the same opponents 6-0 in Accra and 3-0 in Equatorial Guinea. The above comparison is spot on, for Kotoko had beaten their arch-rivals’ close to 12-year record in the Caf Champions League.
Furthermore, the Porcupine Warriors had matched the margin against a Madagascan side few years preceding the Phobia victory with a 6-0 win over Uscafoot, incidentally at Obuasi Len Clay Stadium in 2006. They also beat KCC of Uganda 6-0 in the 80s.
The 1972 Hearts side have been credited as the first Ghanaian team to score seven at home - albeit a 7-2 victory over Kwabre Warriors of Zambia. To say, Kotoko have smashed that victory margin; and in effect are the first Ghanaian side to score seven unanswered goals is correct, but to argue they have broken a 41-year jinx is absolutely misleading.
Contrary to what is being hailed as a shattered 41-year record; Kotoko’s 7-0 mauling of Sony Ela Nguema is NOT the heaviest win by a Ghanaian side in the Caf Champions League.
That record belongs to Obuasi Goldfields - now Ashantigold F/C- who mortified N.P.A Anchors of Liberia 8-1 in the Preliminary Round of the Caf Champions Cup - as it were then known - on the 26th March, 1995. Four great goals by lethal striker Kofi Debrah, a hat-trick by Eben Hagan and one strike by Kwabena Boateng made goal scoring easy. The 1995 Ghana League goal king, Debrah scored three goals in six minutes in the 22nd, 24th, and 28th minute and added another in the 76th minute.
The Liberians substituted their goalkeeper Latec Johnson in the first half after he had conceded six goals from the 7th minute to the 42nd minute. Anchors pulled a goal back through substitute Emmanuel Horton, but Debrah and Hagan completed the rout in the last 14 minutes of play. The Miners’ historic score-line slipped into oblivion when ASEC Mimosas dimmed the hysteria of the Anchors' pummeling by knocking Goldfields out in the second round of the competition.
Asante Kotoko’s triumph over the Equatoguinean champions, and the groveling score line is by no means a small feat accomplished in style and finesse. But it only helps to sooth the hovering anger of the Black Stars’ failure to annex the just ended Africa Cup of Nations trophy as well as the accumulated discontent of missing out on Africa for close to half a decade.
This is by no means an attempt to discredit Asante Kotoko for the laudable seven-star performance with an envious six different goal scorers - far from that; but rather to give credit to the rightful record holders Ashantigold/Goldfields.
We can only wish the Porcupine Warriors the best in their Africa campaign as they represent Ghana in the inter-club flagship competition of the continent. However, anything close to the fairy tale story of Berekum Chelsea last year would be a success for club football in Ghana, but bringing back the trophy to Kumasi for the first time in 30 years would be the apogee of that success.