Gone are the days when Ghanaian clubs used to rub shoulders with the powerhouses on the African scene.
The farthest a Ghanaian club has reached in the past 12 years was the group stage of the CAF Champions League- 2012 by Berekum Chelsea.
Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak lifted the image of Ghana by chalking successes in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.
The Porcupine Warriors were the first club from Ghana to reach the final of the African Champions Cup (now the CAF Champions League) in 1967, but were unfortunately not informed about the replay against TP Englebert after their home and away games had ended in
draws. The Congolese giants were crowned champions.READ MORE: List of winners of the UEFA Player of the Year award
Kotoko would avenge that defeat in 1970 by defying all odds to edge Englebert 2-1 in Kinshasha, after the first leg in Kumasi, had ended in a draw to rule African football.
The Kumasi giants lost the final in 1971 and 1973. Fast forward to 1982, they suffered another defeat in the final against Al Ahly. However, they recovered from that defeat to became champions the following year with a victory over Al Ahly.
1983 was the last time Asante Kotoko won the CAF Champions League. Although Kotoko came close to winning it in 1993, they lost the final on penalties against Zamalek.
Hearts of Oak's team of the 1970’s which had the ‘Fearsome Five’, comprising, Anas Mohammed, Mohammed Polo, Mama Acquah, Peter Lamptey and Robert Hammond was a force to reckon with in both domestic and continental club football.
They reached the final of the CAF Champions League twice in 1977 and 1979 missing out on the title in both instances.
Hearts of Oak would produce another golden team three decades after making a significant impact in continental football in the late 1990’s and in the early 2000’s.
The Phobians saw the most successful era in the club’s history from 1996-97 season to 2005. They won six consecutive league titles and won the CAF Champions League in 2000 before they defeated Asante Kotoko to win the maiden CAF Confederation Cup in 2005.
It would be recalled that in 2005, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko made history as the first clubs on the continent from the same country to play in the final of the maiden CAF Confederation Cup.
Goldfields now AshGold have their own story to tell on how Ghanaian teams fared well on the African continent. The Miners wrote their name in the record books when they became one of the first two sides to play in the final of the rechristened CAF Champions League in 1997.
Can we say the same about Ghanaian clubs lately?
Between 2005 and 2018, Ghanaian clubs have been awful in Africa. Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak have qualified for the group stage of the CAF Champions just once in the past 12 years.
They have struggled year in and year out and it is no more surprising to see a Ghanaian club kicked out in the prelims or in the first round one of the CAF Champions League.
The only exception in the period under review was Berekum Chelsea in 2012.
The 2011 champions of Ghana made a giant step into the group the phase of the CAF Champions League and battled it out with the likes of Zamalek, TP Mazembe and Al Ahly in the same group, but after fighting gallantly, they finished 3rd in the group and missed out qualification to the last four.
Asante Kotoko dominated the Ghana Premier League, winning it in 2012, 2013 and 2014, yet they were sent packing from the CAF Champions League in all the three occasions they competed at the highest level on the continent.
In 2013, JSM Bejaia kicked the Porcupine Warriors out in the second round, while Kotoko was handed the shock of their lives as debutants Barrack Young Controllers saw them off in the preliminary stage and in 2015 MC El Eulma stunned Kotoko at home with a 2-1 win to progress to the final elimination stage of the competition.
Hearts of Oak have not qualified for the CAF Champions League since 2006. Although they won the Ghana Premier League in 2008/09 and were supposed to represent Ghana in Africa, they declined to participate in 2010.
Aduana Stars have represented Ghana twice in Africa, but they failed to go far in both instances. In 2011, the Dormaa based side slipped in the preliminary stage and in 2018 their campaign in the elite stage of
African football was ended by Setif of Algeria and they had to descend to the CAF Confederation Cup.
In the second tier of African club football, Aduana Stars have won only one game in five matches and with a game to spare it is all over for them in group A of the competition.
Medeama proved their mettle in the Confederation Cup in 2016. In 2016, Medeama SC missed out on qualification to the semi-finals of the campaign through an inferior head to head against MO Bejaia.
Several reasons have accounted for Ghanaian clubs inability to go thrive well in continental football. The major factor is the lack of high purchasing power by most Ghanaian sides.
The major source of funding clubs in the country was from gate proceeds. Attendance has, however, dwindled lately, so clubs are financially handicapped.
They resort to frequently selling of players prematurely to low profile European leagues and high profile league on the continent and deprive the Ghana Premier League the quality it requires. In the end local clubs are weakened and are not able to compete effectively in
All the players on the local front are a bunch of average players, there are no exceptional ones. Al Ahly, Zamalek, TP Mazembe, etc are able to cough up a million dollar or more to buy a single player. Meanwhile, the value of the entire players of most Ghanaian champions is not more
than a million dollar.
Ghana football needs a magical moment to restore its past glory.