Caf Confederation Cup: Asante Kotoko dumped out by Setif despite strong away fight

The Porcupine Warriors have failed to progress to the group stage of the competition following an aggregate defeat to the Algerian outfit on Sunday

Asante Kotoko’s 2020-21 African campaign has come to an end following a 0-0 draw with Algerian side ES Setif in the Caf Confederation Cup on Sunday. 

The Ghanaians have been bundled out of the competition on a 2-1 aggregate score which was the result of the first leg home fixture in Accra.

It is the second straight season Kotoko are eliminated at the play-off round of the Confederation Cup, their hopes crashed by San Pedro of Cote d’Ivoire the last time out. 

Coach Abdul Gazale kept faith with Razak Abalora over club captain Felix Annan for the No.1 position in his starting XI while handing attacking responsibilities to Brazilian import Fabio Gama Dos Santos, Kwame Opoku, Emmanuel Gyamfi and Guinean striker Naby Laye Keita. 

Setif wasted no time at all in their search for a goal as they forced Abalora into a big save in just the fourth minute of the game. 

In the 13th minute, Abalora was at the thick of affairs once again, pulling off another save after Setif played a short corner. 

After the break, Setif went close once again but the header went wide after the attacker connected to a cross. 

There were later chances for each of the two sides to break the deadlock but profligacy on both sides kept the score unchanged at the end of 90 minutes. 

This season Kotoko began their African adventure in the Champions League, accounting for Nouadhibou of Mauritania in the preliminary round. 

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg away, the Porcupine Warriors were awarded a 2-0 win by Caf for the second leg as Nouadhibou’s travelling squad was rocked by a coronavirus outbreak on their arrival in Ghana, resulting in the isolation of some players and their inability to raise a team of the stipulated minimum number of players for the game.

A similar story awaited in the next round but this time around against the 23-time Ghana Premier League champions. 

Following a 1-0 home loss to Sudanese club Al Hilal Omdurman, Kotoko saw their team depleted by coronavirus on their arrival in Sudan, thereby unable to raise a team of the adequate number of players for the fixture.

Hilal was consequently awarded a 2-0 home win by Caf, granting them passage to the Champions League group stage on a 3-0 aggregate scoreline. 

Kotoko, despite launching a protest against the authenticity of their coronavirus test results, dropped to the second tier Confederation Cup, in accordance with competition regulations.

In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Kotoko reached their group stage of the competition.

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