Asante Kotoko is the most successful football team in Ghana, scooping 24 national league titles, and winning the African Champions League on two occasions.
Asante have been one of the leading African forces in continental football and are known as one of the most feared teams in Africa. According to a reliable study done by the International Football Federation of history and statistics Asante were ranked the African Club of the Century.
The Ghanaian League is currently suspended until 20 for corruption and when it resumes, the Kotoko side will look to put poor recent form behind them and once again take up their mantle as one of the most productive outfits in both the domestic competitions and the continental showpiece events.
The Kumasi-based Asante have not won the domestic league title since the 2013/14 season and will be desperate to assert their dominance once more. The won the two previous titles wand looked set to boss proceedings over the next few years. But they failed to defend their crown, losing out to Ashante Gold in the 2015 campaign.
The Ghanaian league started life in 1920, but was only formally recognised in 1956, after the now defunct Gold Coast Club Competition fell away two years previously and over the years two teams have hogged the limelight in that time, with Asante and bitter rivals Hearts of Oak providing one of the most enthralling domestic duels, recognized throughout the football world.
When a person thinks Ghanaian soccer two teams instantly spring to mind, with both Kotoko and Hearts of Oak featuring prominently in debates, discussions and trophy hunts.
From the 1996/97 season – for a 12-year period – both Hearts and Kotoko had a stranglehold on local football, with Hearts of Oak lifting the title nine times and Asante managing to pick up three league triumphs.
The 80’s belonged to Asante though with seven out of 10 league titles under their belt, and three went to their old foes.
Oaks have managed to pick up 20 league wins in total and trail Asante by four, going into the 2020 season.
The last two campaigns (before the ban) went the way of Wa All Stars (2016) and Aduana Stars (2017) respectively. The past few seasons do not represent a changing the guard as Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak are two of the biggest clubs in Africa and will soon tighten their grip on local soccer once again.
The Ghana League, before its suspension was known as the 11th strongest league on the continent and 65th in world football, but this belies the success the two giants have managed to achieve in the various African Cup campaigns over many decades.
Asante play their home matches out of the intimidating Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, the largest venue in the country and home to 41 000 vociferous supporters. Many an African team has come unstuck at this stadium and it is near on impregnable.
The Porcupine Warriors have an estimated fan base of 12 million supporters, and they share an association with English side Sunderland, with favourable transfer activity and shared coaching wisdom ensuring a healthy supply of foreign players and coaches.
The club is currently owned by Rig Communications and has a lot of clout in the local transfer market, snaring some of the best talent in the country year after year. The assembly line of super stars means the club lures the cream of the crop, most going on to play for the Blacks Stars national team.
Alongside their league and Champions League success the club have picked up 9 FA Cup trophies (Ghana), and three Ghana Super Cup triumphs.
It is in the continental competition that Asante has made a global mark, winning the title in 1970 and 1983. They were runners-up in 1967, 1971, 1973, 1982 and 1993.
The club’s golden generation – from the late 60’s to the early 80’s is unparalleled in African football.
The club has suffered in the Champions League over the past 15 years and have reached the group stage only once in that time (1996). They have been knocked out in the preliminary and first rounds seven years times in the past 15 years (when they have qualified).
The club boasts some world class players that have donned the colours and include the likes of Tony Yeboah, Samuel Kuffour and John Mensa.
In the last completed league campaign (2017) Asante finished fifth on the log, only managing 23 goals in 30 matches, which proved to be costly in the end. They only conceded a league-leading 22 goals that season. They will need to bolster their front line, while keep the same defensive structures that saw them finish as the team with the best back four in the country last time out.
They finished a whopping 14 points behind winners Aduena Stars.
The 2016 season was even worse as the club finished in a lowly fifth position.
Their biggest rivals are Hearts of Oak, while Ashanti Gold are a long way off with four league titles. Ghana has always been a two horse race, and both Oaks and the Porcupines will need strong outings, not only to continue domestic success but to once again make a mark on the Champions League.
Kotoko have one of the richest pedigrees in Africa, and it will be only fitting if they can continue the fine tradition of their glory teams. A strong Asante and Hearts of Oak also means a strong national team.
Their 12-million strong support base will want nothing less than another league title, and another African Champions League push. Will 2020 be their year? Few Ghanaians will bet against this happening.