Kumasi Asante Kotoko begin another continental campaign this weekend with the club’s management announcing an incentive package aimed at raising the morale of the players and getting them to aim high as they take on Athletique Renaissance Aiglon (CARA) in the CAF Confederation Cup first round, first leg encounter at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
Kotoko’s Executive board chairman, Dr Kwame Kyei, promised each player a two-bedroom house if they win Africa’s second most prestigious club competition and pay them GH¢20,000 each as bonus for reaching the group phase (money zone) of the competition.
Kotoko last won a continental competition in 1983 and after two failed attempts in continental football in the last two seasons, the Porcupine Warriors hope the incentive package would serve as the confidence booster to get their campaign off to a flying start against CARA, a familiar foe in the Ghanaian side’s history.
The nine-time Congo champions, who are aiming to reassert themselves in Africa after being kicked out of the competition at the first round and preliminary stages in 2014 and 2015 respectively, were eliminated by Kotoko in 1976 when they clashed in the Round of 16 of the African Clubs championship, with the Ghanaians qualifying on the away goal’s rule after a 2-2 aggregate score.
In 1983, Kotoko beat the Congolese side 4-3 on aggregate en route to their second African Cup glory. And 35 years on, the two sides clash again in Kumasi with the Porcupine Warriors hoping to maintain their dominance of the 1974 African champions on Sunday.
Coach Steve Polack and his charges have undergone intensive preparations ahead of their date with CARA, including unimpressive showing in the GHALCA G8 and StarTimes GFA Gala competitions.
With the notable exception of injured Abass Mohammed, Coach Polack has a clean bill of health as he plots to execute his important assignment. He has a mix of young and experienced players such as club captain Amos Frimpong, goalkeeper Felix Annan, Seth Opare with Kwame Boahene, Emmanuel Gyamfi, strikers Saddick Adams and Yakubu Mohammed, and evergreen midfielder Jordan Opoku to choose from.
Sunday’s clash between the two would be a repeat of the 1983 encounter which Kotoko triumphed on their way to winning the African Clubs Championships.
Support for the team has been massive over the last three days as fans throng each training section just to lend a helping hand.
Free tickets are being distributed on radio during call-in programmes and the jingles of the club have filled the air in Kumasi.
CARA Brazzaville, who arrived in Ghana yesterday, come into Sunday’s game in fine form. They are second on the Congolese league log with a perfect record of three wins out of three games.