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Sports News of Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Source: Pulse Ghana

The sad tale of how Kotoko lost CAF Champions League final without kicking a ball

Legendary Ghanaian footballer Osei Kofi who was the marksman of Asante Kotoko in the late 1960s and early 1970 has narrated how the Kumasi giants lost the 1967 Africa Club Champions Cup (now CAF Champions League) grand finale against Englebert (renamed TP Mazembe) without kicking a ball.

Asante Kotoko were the second Ghanaian club after Real Republicans to participate in the Africa inter-club competition in 1966.

They were halted by Stade Abidjan and with the experience, they had gathered, the Kumasi giants would be unstoppable the following year.

Kotoko went all the way to the final. Led by the abled leadership of Wilberforce Kwadwo Mfum, with the support of Africa’s finest player at the time Osei Kofi Kotoko were good to go.

Osei Kofi scored key goals as the Porcupine Warriors reached the final of the campaign.

One of Osei Kofi's outstanding display was Kotoko's 5-2 win over champions Stade Abidjan to avenge the 1966 defeat. The 'Little Maestro' registered a hat-trick to inspire the Porcupine Warriors to a great victory in the quarter-finals.

Osei Kofi hit the back of the net as Asante Kotoko sent Malian outfit Djoliba packing from the competition in the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate.

They faced Englebert now TP Mazembe who would be Asante Kotoko sworn enemies on the Africa continent in the grand finale. The Congolese held the Porcupine Warriors to a 1-1 draw and Asante Kotoko stormed Kinshaha and gave their opponents a good run for their money as the reverse fixture ended 2-2. In today's format, Kotoko would have been declared champions through the away goal rule, but nothing of that existed.

It was the era when the away goal rule hadn’t been instituted, so the referee ushered the two sides into the toss of coins to break the tie.

It is reported that Asante Kotoko were cheated in the toss of the coin because the Congolese skipper Kalala started jubilating before the coin could even land the grounds.

However, Osei Kofi who was an eye witness said that the match officials connived with the Congolese to start jubilating before the coin lands the ground, but the interpreter hinted them and they decided not to go on with the toss of coin.

The African Football Confederation (now Confederation of African Football ) organized a rematch between Englebert and Asante Kotoko, but the Porcupine Warriors were not communicated to so they failed to appear for the final and the Congolese giants were crowned champions of Africa.

Kotoko made several pleas but it failed to materialize.

“African Football Confederation decided that there should be a toss of coin. When we were preparing then one of our interpreters was standing behind the referee and the Congolese team officials speaking in French and he heard the officials that when the coin is thrown up, they shouldn’t let it fall down before they start jubilating and the supporters will back them up," Osei Kofi told in an exclusive interview.

"We complained to the match commissioner that the toss of coin we won’t accept it because this is what we have heard and that helped us and the toss of a coin couldn’t come on and what next.

“We were told to come back and AFC will inform us. The next match will be played in Cameroon. The date and everything will be communicated to Kotoko. This is what actually happened. The toss of coin couldn’t come on.

"Unfortunately for us, Nana Fredua Mensah was the chairman of the Ghana Football Association. Not knowing African Football Confederation (AFC) had written to him about the venue and the date for the final. Kotoko were not communicated to and later we got to know the Zairean team Englebert had gone to Cameroon and the cup has been awarded to them. We approached Nana Fredua Mensah and he didn’t say anything and that was why Kotoko lost the cup".

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