Kotoko, Ashgold fired up for Africa
Ghana’s representatives in Africa club championships, Asante Kotoko and Ashantigold will begin their continental quest for laurels with dicey first leg encounters this weekend.
In far away Equatorial Guinea, Ashantigold will aim to make progress in the competition by going for the Jugular when they face Akonangui FC in Ebebiyin today at the preliminary stage of their CAF Confederations Cup competition.
Kotoko made a shorter journey to Nigeria where they face Kano Pillars at the Saani Abacha Sports Stadium in another preliminary stage first leg in the Africa Champions League competition.
Kotoko and Ashgold claimed the slots to represent Ghana in the competition after emerging victorious in the Tiers 1&2 competitions organised by the FA Normalisation Committee.
The Porcupine Warriors won the elite Tier 1 and the Tier 2 laurels going to the ‘Aboakese’ lads.
They have since been preparing for the start of the competition by engaging in a number of friendly matches and have remained busy on the transfer market, registering a number of players to beef up their squads.
Whatever preparations have gone into it will be tested by Kano Pillars and Akonangui FC at unfamiliar territories.
In order to avoid a tension-filled second leg encounters in two weeks time, Kotoko and Ashgold would be out to record respectable result from today’s encounters.
However, the massive changes in Kotoko will put them under the spotlight and will play under some amount of pressure, a situation that will differ with the ‘Miners.’
Ahead of the start of the competition, Kotoko parted ways with Coach C.K Akonnor who turned down an offer to be the club’s Technical Director and replaced by Ashantigold’s Coach, Kjetil Zachariassen.
Zachariassen’s short stay has witnessed the wholesale registration of new players such as Ampem Dacoster, Samuel Tetteh, Didi Arnold, Justice Blay, Kevin Andoh, Richard Arthur and George Abege.
They will be expected to fill the void created by the departures of club captain, Amos Frimpong, Kwame Bonsu and talisman Fatawu Safiw.
The absence of Burkinabe import Songne Yacouba, Maxwell Baako and Richard Senanu will, however, remain a matter of concern for the Porcupine family.
Formed in 1990, the same year the Nigeria Premier League commenced, Kano Pillars have won the Nigeria Premier League on four occasions, hence the consideration as an experienced and formidable side for the Ghanaians.
But Zachariassen is not moved by their track record.
I have heard a lot about them and what they are capable of doing. I have watched them and have realised they are physically endowed but I am confident in my players. I know they can deliver and that is what we are working on,” he told journalists before departure.
With the experience of the club’s new skipper, Felix Annan, Augustine Sefah, Emmanuel Gyamfi and others, Kotoko can grind a good result from the game to build on to the next stage but that will come after a hard work.
The task for the ‘Miners’ may not be gigantic like the Porcupine Warriors but their new Coach, Ricardo da Silva is in no mood to show mercy on their host who he hopes wallop ahead of the second leg.
He has boosted the Ashgold attacking ranks with the signing of Brazilian striker, Marco da Silva who will be expected to form a good strike partnership with Mumuni Safiw and Emmanuel Osei Baffour.
With their pedigree, the ‘Miners’ are capable of pulling a spectacular feat but that will not come on an easy note as Akonangui FC aim to make an impact on the competition.
BY ANDREW NORTEY