Thursday, March 4, 2010

KOTOKO FOR DAKAR...They practise on Tema's synthetic pitch (GRAPHIC SPORTS, BACK PAGE, FEB 9, 2010)

KUMASI Asante Kotoko have this Saturday to prove why they decided to compete in the CAF Champions League against the backdrop of financial difficulties and a dip in form. 
When they play away to Senegal’s ASC Liguare in a first leg preliminary away duel in Dakar, the vexed question will be whether they can rediscover their enchanting mix of experience and industry to make a good start to the competition.
And the current crop of players need to answer the question positively to establish a point that they are not mere pretenders but have the ability to carry on their shoulders the weight of their illustrious forebears.
The match is scheduled for the synthetic pitch at the Papa Demba Diop stadium and Asante Kotoko were expected to train on the synthetic pitch at the Tema park yesterday before departure tomorrow for Dakar.
His fluctuating domestic output notwithstanding, Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin has been relishing the chance to prove a point on the continental arena and Saturday presents him with that opportunity.
Kotoko have been unconvincing in the domestic league. Indeed the team has not epitomised the typical porcupine fighting spirit and will need extra effort to make a good start to the competition.
Kotoko preparation for the Senegal match has been bogged down by financial difficulties with management appealing to some individuals and organisations for support.
But once they have managed to secure the funds to make the journey, they have no excuse to let their supporters and nation down.
Asante Kotoko are the only Ghanaian side competing in Africa this year. Hearts of Oak, who were to compete alongside Kotoko in the Champions League, as well as Heart of Lions and King Faisal who qualified to play in the Confederation Cup, pulled out for financial reasons.
Apart from the huge financial commitment associated with participation in the competition, the continental terrain also presents a tough task for Asante Kotoko.
The Senegalese come nowhere near the continental pedigree of the Ghanaians. 
ASC Liguare were founded in 1968 and this is their maiden participation in the Champions League, having won the Senegalese league for the first time last season.
But the changing face of football should be enough to present Kotoko with a caution especially as Liguare won that nation’s championship ahead of established teams like A S Doaune and AS Jaraaf among others.
Senegalese typically have height and strength, which can contribute to make them frustrating in defence and deadly in attack.
They will surely come at Kotoko with the view to breaking them down at the back to get the goals.
That is not to say that the porcupine warriors cannot strike when least expected. In fact on a good d ay they have the ability to hit at their opponents with all the force at their disposal and that is what their fans are expecting from them. 
Notwithstanding, Kotoko would need to build their self-confidence and once they get into their strides they can return with at least a good score line.
In Jordan Opoku and Daniel Nii Adjei Kotoko have midfielders who cannot only run but have good technical skills to change the face of the game for the team.
The attack needs to be sharp to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way. Here, more is expected from Kabiru Moro and Louis Agyeman.
If Alex Asamoah starts the game his experience should be enough to reap results for Kotoko. Asamoah came to Kotoko full of promise and it is a shame that he has not been able to hit his potential.

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