Four days after ending the charge of their fiercest rivals, Hearts of Oak for an Africa club competition slot, Kumasi Asante Kotoko will storm the Accra Sports Stadium today as they chase a double under the Normalisation Committee season.
Kotoko handed the Phobians a painful exit from the Normalisation Committee (NC) Tier 1 competition with a 5-4 victory in penalty shoot-out after drawing 1-1 in regulation time.
It was a huge blow for the Phobians as the defeat ruined any chance of going to Africa next season, having being kicked out of the Tier 2 competition under similar circumstances by lower division side, Unistar Academy.
For Kotoko, it kept their ‘double’ purpose on course and will have to churn out a better performance against the ‘Miners’ if they hope to achieve that feat.
Until the previous game, Ashantigold found themselves in a similar position as Kotoko, impressing in the two competitions until Karela United knocked them out of the Tier 1 competition in Obuasi with a surprise 1-0 win to face Kotoko in the final.
Their only chance of going to Africa solely rest with the Tier 2 competition which produces the representative for the CAF Confederation Cup but coming up against the Porcupine Warriors represent a huge threat.
The ‘Miners’ have played most of their games on home soil and had looked invincible until Karela – which initially threatened to boycott the encounter if the NC fails to heed to a call for fresh balloting – broke them in front of their home fans.
That defeat has severely dented the ego of the ‘Aboakese’ lads but a match against Kotoko in Accra will be big enough to bring their confidence back, knowing how gigantic the stakes are.
Rightly so, they have indicated their readiness to stun the Porcupine Warriors considering that fact that the game represents the only chance to go international.
Apart from that, the performance of Kotoko against Hearts on Sunday should motivate the Miners to play a little above themselves and the result can be theirs.
On an afternoon when much was expected from the Reds in the controversy-strewn encounter, Kotoko performed poorly and scoring with the only chance they created in the game.
Having conceded possession from the start of the game, they concentrated at the midfield and defensive areas especially after Abdul Safiu gave them the leader at the early stages of the game.
The Phobians, buoyed by the returning Mohammed Alhassan from the Black Stars fold, controlled the game from the back through the midfield areas but were only found wanting when they got closer to the Kotoko goal area.
With club captain Amos Frimpong deployed from the usual right full back position to defensive midfield, the system gave Kotoko some solidity at the back but helped the team a little in moving forward.
Having gone past the Phobians with the system, it is likely Coach Charles Kwabla Akonnor may stick to that formation to contain the usually composed Ashantigold side.
With that performance, Coach Akonnor would surely stick with Abdul Ganiu and Abdul Wahab at central defence with the same support from the Amos Frimpong and the other midfielders.
And since Kotoko’s poor show was attributed to the failure of Emmanuel Gyamfi to shine, perhaps, Akonnor must consider moving him to the right side of the midfield and while Safiu and Naby Keita must be expected to add some urgency to their game.
The ‘Miners’ are no doubt a very strong opposition capable of halting the Porcupine Warriors but must show some defensive stability while the attackers must be purposeful upfront, else they suffer a fate similar to that of the Phobians.
BY ANDREW NORTEY