Friday, March 13, 2009


AFTER being exposed by Sekondi Eleven Wise amidst boos and anger from the home fans in Kumasi, Asante Kotoko are confronted with the huge question of their readiness for the potentially tough Africa Champions league preliminary first leg game against Morocco’s Ittihad Z. Khemmiset at the Essipong Stadium on Sunday.
The reality dawned on Coach Isaac “Opeele” Boateng that all could not be well with his team and perhaps the best therapy for him is to dig deep into his repertoire of knowledge to craft a game plan strong enough to undo the Moroccan side.
Listening to coach C.K. Akunnor who led Wise to that convincing 2-1 victory over Asante Kotoko at the Baba Yara Stadium in the Glo Premier game, one could deduce that the team needs extra power and energy to work on.
“We watched their training and realised that their strength was on the wings so we stuck with a steady strategy, cutting them out from the flanks and allowing Rahim Ayew to wear them down, which confused them”, Akunnor, the former Black Stars captain said after the match.
This notwithstanding Sunday offers a big opportunity for Coach Opeele to begin his journey of hope with Asante Kotoko, and somehow lead his side to assuage the pains from the Eleven Wise defeat.
As Asante Kotoko move to put their feet on the winners’ podium, the young coach would have to prove a point about the capabilities of local coaches in the continental game.
He will be going into the match having at the back of his mind that only a humble attitude and the urge to work extra hard without swimming in complacency will see Kotoko record a very good win.
It may not be comfortable playing home away from home but Asante Kotoko would have to endure the intricacies.
Crowd violence last year saw CAF imposing a two-match home ban on the Ghanaian champions and they must have had a reason for choosing Essipong ahead of the Ohene Djan Stadium for the match.
Currently lying 12th in the Moroccan premier league and with virtually no name in Africa, Khemisset would ordinarily pass for a no match for a heavyweight like Asante Kotoko.
But for a side coming from no less a nation than Morocco it could be disastrous to write them off.
Asante Kotoko are aiming to go one better than their last year’s performance in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The reason why the club management sacked Belgian coach Maurice Cooreman was to prove a point that they were not ready to accommodate mediocrity.
The undulating African football terrain should propel Kotoko to brace themselves up for a potentially tough game on Sunday.
Khemmiset would come in aiming for at least a draw result that would put them in a better stead for qualification to the next stage of the competition.
The pressure to impress would surely come from the fans of Asante Kotoko but such pressures have the tendency of being reason for non-performance.
Asante Kotoko lost key striker, Eric Bekoe, who scored some crucial goals in Africa last season to Egyptian side Petrojet at the start of the season.
But in Alex Asamoah who was signed from Obuasi Ashantigold this season, they have an equally capable striker only that the player’s performance has not been consistent.
Asamoah’s partnership with former B/A United striker Stephen Manu should provide the needed goals for the Ghanaian side.
The Kotoko defence must put the brakes on the Moroccan attack and much would be expected from Samuel Inkoom, Ofosu Appiah, Godfred Yeboah and Samuel Nzimaba.
Nothing but a good win would push Kotoko into moving into the second leg with absolute hope.

No comments: