Sports

Kotoko, Ashgold aim to avoid upsets …as they engage Arsenals, Medeama in Tier 2 quarter finals

KUMASI Asante Kotoko’s hopes of participating in the CAF Champions League competition is nearing collapse following a clash with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) Normalisation Committee (NC) over certain demands in the Tier 1 competition.

Godknows Wisdom-Unistar Academy

Until the Porcupine Warriors rescind a boycott threat occasioned by the failure of the NC to announce a neutral venue for their clash with Hearts of Oak at the semi final stage of the Tier 1 competition and a change is the disbursement of gate proceeds, Kotoko could count themselves out of that competition.

When that happens, they miss out on the chance of participating in the Champions League competition.

Their only hope of storming Africa, therefore, lies in the second tier (Tier 2) competition which also reaches the quarter final stage over the weekend with Kotoko set to engage Berekum Arsenals in a tricky duel at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium tomorrow.

The game itself has been preceded by controversies similar to what Kotoko argues for in the Tier 1 competition as the local ‘Gunners’ were joined by other lower tier clubs to call for fresh ballots.

With Kotoko playing all their matches at home and Ashgold also playing just a game away from home, the lower division clubs believe it is a ploy to get the big guns to win the competition.

But with no response from the NC as of press time and no indica- tion from Arsenals of carrying their boycott threat through, it means Asanteman fans will have another orportunity to watch their darling club wrestle its way to continental platform.

With Arsenals current form, one would not be far from right in predicting a smooth progression to the semi final stages of the competition for Kotoko.

However, the energy and de- termination by the lower division clubs have forced the Premier League sides to sit up.

From the start of the competition, not a single week of matches has failed to record upsets; the biggest being last weekend’s exit of Hearts of Oak and Liberty Professionals at the round of 16 stage by Unistar Academy and Proud United.

Kotoko would have their own story to tell after enduring a lot of torrid moment to overcome Nkoranza Warriors at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium with a 2-1 victory.

With this, the warning signals are clear for the favourites and with their predicament, Kotoko will need to go all out against Arsenals if they want to be in Africa in the next season.

Coach C.K Akonnor altered his side in the previous match but may revert to his full squad to at least make victory secured early enough to avoid the dicey penalty shoot- out against the Berekum lads who would surely be at their stubborn best against the Reds.

At the Len Clay Stadium in Obuasi, Ashgold will hope to better their chances of going to Africa next season with a win over Medeama when they clash in their quarter final game.

Ashgold is still campaigning in the Tier 1 competition and are fully aware they will need a win in this tie to fulfill that ambition but will not have it easy against the fellow Premier League side who harbor similar ambitions.

The Tarkwa based side has emerged recently as one of Ghana’s candidates for continental club championships and despite the failure to reach the top; they keep pushing for the slot which eluded them last season.
Despite their form, Medeama has not proved their mettle on the away games and would have to use this game to prove their critics wrong.

But against one of the finest sides at the moment, they will struggle as the ‘Miners’ seeks to progress to the next stage of the competition.

Proud United will engage Unistar Academy at the Gyandu Park in an all Division One League (DOL) clash at the Sekondi Gyandu Park.

The host has given a good account of themselves in the Tier 2 competition but Unistar came to the limelight after their giant-kill- ing feat over Hearts of Oak at the previous stage.

They came from a goal down to hold Hearts to a 1-1 draw encoun- ter before stunning them at the penalty shootout stage.

Having earned the ‘giant-killers’ accolade, the onus lies on Unistar to prove that feat was no fluke and was a performance worked out to smoke the Phobians out.

With that performance, they are tipped again to sell out another classic display against Proud United who may also be aware of the danger they pose and would come fully armed to triumph at home.

The Kpando Park will be full of excitement and fireworks as Heart of Lion welcomes Nzema Kotoko in another do-or-die affair.

BY ANDREW NORTEY

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