It may not be a title-defining game yet, but this afternoon’s Ghana Premier League (GPL) block-buster between Great Olympics and Asante Kotoko, has a lot at stake.
If for nothing at all, revenge is emblazoned on the mind of Kotoko, as Olympics seek a rare double over their more accomplished opponents in their Week 20 tantalising clash at the Accra Sports Stadium.
True to their wondrous nature, Olympics demonstrated some mesmerising display of panache, verve and purpose to beat their more illustrious Kotoko side 1-0 at the Accra Stadium in their December clash of the campaign – the solitary goal decanting from the foot of Michael Yeboah.
That phenomenal second half effort condemned the 23-time champions to their first fall of the season.
It was an agonising, chastening defeat for the Porcupine Warriors as the loss later culminated in the dismissal of Coach Maxwell Konadu.
Ever since, the Asanteman contingent have been looking forward – rather hungrily – to exacting revenge, and today could just be the moment they have been waiting for all this while.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge and today, Kotoko lead the pack by just a point, toppling this afternoon’s opponents from the apex after drubbing Berekum Chelsea 2-0, while Olympics stunningly slumped 0-2 to Legon Cities at the weekend, to slip into second place.
Cities’ vintage revenge victory over the Wonder Club might seem authoritative, but the Olympics’ lads created an avalanche of scoring opportunities which were blown off with careless abandon.
Clearly, it only suggests that the former leaders still have enough ‘muscle’ to bulldoze their path when some sparkles fall their way today.
Spearheaded by top-shot skipper Gladson Awako, Maxwell Abbey Quaye, Abdul Manaf Mudasiru, Razak Kasim and James Akaminko, Olympics are capable of giving Kotoko yet another shocker if let loose to exhibit their flamboyant, free-flowing style of football. What could serve as the Dade boys’ own banana peel, is their failure to make their dominance count in goals.
On the reverse, Kotoko have been a different unit altogether, especially since the arrival of former Ghana coach Mariano Barreto. In two games under the supervision of the Portuguese sweat merchant, Kotoko have banged home six goals and same number of points, thrashing Bechem United 4-0 before another imposing 2-0 win over Berekum Chelsea.
Certainly, Kotoko can be said to be on fire. However, the leaders will be missing the services of their Brazilian midfield star Fabio Gama Dos Santos, who has been an integral part of the club’s recent resurgence.
But there are plenty of ‘formidables’ to rely on. Count them: Captain Emmanuel Gyamfi, Abdul Ganiyu, Andy Kumi, Godfred Asiamah, Christopher Nettey and new Brazilian signing Francis Vinicius, among others; and they are poised to fight to remain on top.
Without any scintilla of doubt, this afternoon’s tie will witness an eye-catching piece of football, but there could also be a few battered bodies ‘decorating’ the field.
BY JOHN VIGAH