As many predicted, Aduana Stars couldn’t survive in Algeria when they faced ES Setif in the Caf Champions League final qualifying round on Sunday.
The Ghanaian champions lost 4-0, which concluded both legs on a 4-1 aggregate.
The Ogya Lads were hoping to progress to the group stage of the elite competition for the first time and probably improve the slots for Ghanaian clubs going forward. But that couldn’t happen and the blame should be on nobody else but the entire team.
Aduana, although title holders of the Ghana Premier League, still lack what it takes to compete on the continental stage. They lack the vision and will. They lack the strength and potential. They accepted to be seen as a ‘small’ team that need many more years to learn and grow.
They played as if they had little understanding of the competition they were participating in.
From the first leg, when they struggled to claim an ‘unsafe’ lone goal win against Setif, we saw how disorganised and wasteful they were. How their game lacked depth and intensity, and how the visitors proved more professional.
Those frailties forced local pundits to write off the Dormaa Ahenkro-based club ahead of the reserve fixture. The ‘prophets of doom’, were eventually right with their predictions.
Aduana were the minnows on Sunday. Setif controlled the game from start to finish, and showed clearly the difference between a team ready for future battles and another that wanted to go home.
Do we take into consideration Aduana coach Yussif Abubakar’s complaint of unfavourable weather conditions on that night? It was freezing cold in Algeria that day, which the Ghanaian players, from tropical West Africa, are quite unused to.
However, that was an enough reason to travel with a sizeable lead and then put up a worthy fight to safeguard the spoils. One goal wasn’t going to do that against a team like Setif, who have won the Caf Champions League twice.
Like one of the players said after their elimination, Aduana went into the competition principally to acquire some experience, which they hope to use as a blueprint for the Caf Confederation Cup - the second tier competition they have been demoted to.
Perhaps, Aduana would have been a better and different team in the Caf Champions League had they been competing in the local topflight, which kicked off its new season only last weekend after almost two months of lateness due to legal issues.
It is probably not the time for remorse but for preparation, ahead of the Caf Confederation Cup, which they could use to showcase the potential we didn’t see in the Caf Champions League.
The Ghana Premier League will also provide Aduana another opportunity to focus on depth and finesse across one full season, from which they could return to the Caf Champions League stronger and bolder.