Ghanaian contenders aiming high in CAF competition
Ghanaian clubs Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Aduana Stars are making grand promises as they look to end the country's long run without a major African club title in this year's continental competitions.
Kotoko and Aduana begin their quests for African honours this weekend in the CAF Confederation Cup and Champions League respectively, with both optimistic that they can end Ghana's recent poor displays in the two competitions.
Kotoko face Congolese heavyweights CARA Brazzaville in the first leg of their preliminary round clash, while reigning Ghanaian champions Aduana Stars are away at Libya's Al Tahaddy in a fixture that will be played in Egypt.
No Ghanaian club has won a continental trophy since Accra Hearts of Oak beat Kotoko in 2004 to clinch the inaugural Confederation Cup, while the performances of the nation's teams in the Champions League have consistently been underwhelming.
Only once in the last 14 years - in 2012 - has a Ghanaian side reached the group stage of the Champions League, although the tournament's new extended format ought to give hope to both Kotoko and Stars that they can buck the trend.
"I am aware of the recent difficulties in Africa so for us the trick is to start as well as possible," Kotoko coach Steve Pollack told KweséESPN. "The club has set a target of winning in Africa but it is a long road.
"The mentality is strong and my hope is that on Sunday it will reflect in the way we play."
Kotoko are keen to recreate the atmosphere that made the Baba Yara Stadium one of the most feared venues in African football in the 80s and 90s, and have embarked on a massive fan drive, distributing club flags in their home base of Kumasi.
Aduana Stars' history in continental competition is limited, but coach Yusif Abubakar is keen for them to begin establishing themselves on the continent this year.
"We are ready for this game," he told KweséESPN. "We've been ready from the first moment we won the league.
"The players and the club are determined to be regulars on this stage because they understand the chance to test themselves against different teams from different parts of the continent is very good for their careers.
"The target for us is to at least equal what Berekum Chelsea did and reach the group stage," he continued. "That will be quite an achievement."