Friday, August 15, 2008

KOTOKO HOPEFUL OF A DREAM START (PAGE 20)

KUMASI Asante Kotoko go into battle minus two of their trusted stars but they are aiming for a good start on Sunday as they kick off the group phase of the CAF Confederation Cup with a tricky game against Tunisian giants, Etoile du Sahel in Sousse.
Skipper Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor and defender Godfred Yeboah are out of the game for various reasons but if the spirit with which they left Kumasi last Tuesday was anything to go by, then expect the Porcupine Warriors to surmount the Sousse hurdle.
Kuffour received a red card in the first leg match against Al-Ittihad in Tripoli while Yeboah has been ruled out for the rest of the competition as result of the controversy surrounding his return to the club from Wa All Stars where he played briefly on loan.
Hopes for a dream start to the competition hinges on the strength of a team that look so hungry for success.
Chief Executive Officer of the club, Sylvester Asare Owusu, told Graphic Sports just before the team jetted off to Tunisia that the mission to post a successful season was on course and they hoped to return to Ghana with a respectable result.
A respectable result in this case could be a win or a draw, but the general belief in Kumasi is that Kotoko have what it takes to beat the Tunisia side at their own backyard.
Kotoko can draw on the wealth of talents at their disposal to make history with a win in Tunisia but they need to come to terms with the fact that it would demand an extraordinary performance.
In spite of their pedigree on the continent, Asante Kotoko are yet to record a victory in any competitive match in North Africa and a win over Etoile would set the stage for a new lease of life for the Ghanaian champions.
The combatants are synonymous with flair and style so when they settle to play their game, one of the best games in the competition so far would be witnessed in Sousse.
It is little wonder that the match has gathered intense media attention as they diagnose the two teams to see whether Kotoko has the upper hand in the match.
Reports from Tunisia so far speak of high spirits in camp as they go through their training regimen under the tutelage of assistant coach Johnson Smith.
Hopes are pinned on the attacking prowess of Eric Bekoe who would lead the attack on Sunday.
The striker has demonstrated his ability to strike when least expected and when he receives the needed support expect him to be venomous.
But the real strength in the team lies in their central processing unit where Jordan Opoku and Daniel Nii Adjei are peerless. They pump so much energy into the team and much would be expected from them.
Etoile are not new to the Ghanaian game even though this is the first time they are playing Kotoko. They have had some skirmishes with Accra Hearts of Oak and proved very powerful on the ball.

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