Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
AS Asante Kotoko move to salvage their pride, uncertainty hangs over the fitness of prolific striker, Eric Bekoe, for Sunday’s return CAF Confederation Cup match against Nigeria’s Dolphins at the Baba Yara Stadium.
The hit man got injured in last Wednesday’s outstanding One Touch Premier League match between Kotoko and Berekum Arsenals and was rushed to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) where he is on admission.
There were fears that he had strained a tendon, but sources said an X-Ray revealed no serious damage to the injured knee.
It was, however, not clear whether he would be declared medically fit for the game on Sunday. Bekoe’s absence could be a huge blow to coach Bashir Hayford’s fight back strategy.
This is especially so as the Porcupine Warriors would be playing minus three key players— Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, Osei Kwame Jnr and Dan Acquah—who are on suspension.
Some fans questioned the continued presence of Bekoe in the Arsenals game when Kotoko needed his lightening quick legs in the crucial Africa game at hand in four days time.
But the situation provides an opportunity for coach Hayford to prove himself, even from the most difficult situation.
Kotoko have to win by a three-goal margin to make it to the next stage, and even though some see it as a Herculean task, that nevertheless is not beyond their capability.
Memories of great victories recorded under very difficult circumstances put Kotoko clear ahead of their opponents on Sunday. And if the motivation and strict training regimen ahead of the Dolphins game are anything to by, then a semblance of hope prevails.
Dolphins who zoomed into town last Wednesday evening had dismissed earlier reports in Kumasi that they had petitioned the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) over alleged threats of intimidation by Kotoko in the Kumasi game.
Club officials said there was not an iota of truth in the allegation and that they were in Kumasi only to play and win, saying their domineering performance in the Calabar match cannot be taken for granted.
Kotoko’s Director of Communications, Kwame Baah-Nuako, had already indicated that Dolphins could not be the side to see them off in the competition.
But the ability of the Nigerian side to stand toe-to-toe with their opponents can also not be completely wished away.
Goals are crucial in a competition of this nature, but the rate at which Asante Kotoko squander chances sometimes leaves much to be desired.
With Nana Arhin Duah fit for Sunday’s match, his experience must tell positively on the match when he teams up with Francis Coffie, and Kwabena Yaro in attack.
Even though Dan Acquah will be missing in the defence, Hayford can find a worthy replacement for him to partner Inkoom, Harrison, and Anokye at the rear.
Nothing but a resounding victory is expected of the team on Sunday because Kotoko remain the only hope for the nation in continental football this year.