MTN FA Cup… Can Kotoko spoil Aduana Stars party?
Ghana Premier League (GPL) champions, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and League leaders, Aduana Stars would be engaged in a fierce battle at the round of 16 stage of the MTN FA Cup competition at the Nana Agyeman Badu I Park in Dormaa.
Kotoko are nine times winners of the competition that pitches clubs in the lower leagues against those in the upper or elite league and should be seen as a side fully focused on winning the ultimate competition – the league.
However, with the trophy consistently eluding the Reds since 2017, the club is plotting an agenda to snatch the two major trophies into their trophy cabinet.
In 2017 when they emerged victorious, the Reds defeated a side no less than Hearts of Oak 3-1 at the Aliu Mahama Stadium in what proved to be one of their biggest moments of the competition.
Its over six years now since that feat but memories of the joy and excitement that gripped the club’s players, fans and management members may still be fresh on their minds and that could be an enormous motivating factor that pushes the Porcupine Warriors for the battle.
Interestingly, they come against a high-flying familiar foe, Aduana Stars – a bogey side boasting of a generation of stars that are up to dethrone the Porcupine Warriors as defending champions of the Premier League.
Aduana Stars absence in the competition’s honours list is striking but with two Premier League medals in their cabinet, it suggests they are not a side to brush aside easily.
Unfortunately for Kotoko, the Dormaa grounds have over the years proved to be a hostile ground for them with poor outcomes from games.
But that script would not change as the in-form Ógya’ boys make another attempt at the unpredictable FA Cup trophy.
Undoubtedly, it’s a game between the finest sides this season and would surely be sold as a cracker.
With inconsistent results by the closet contenders of the league, Hearts and Kotoko, Aduana Stars FC appear to have changed focus a bit; vowing to stake claim for a double this season.
But just like Kotoko, it would not be easy for them because the Reds will storm the Dormaa Park with all guns blazing, knowing the strength of the home side in front of the supporters.
Aduana Stars lead Kotoko with seven points on the league table and obviously make them sturdy favourites ahead of Kotoko who occupy third place with 28 points.
However, Kotoko, which is likely to feature the likes of Steven Mukwala, Richmond Lamptey, Justice Blay and other enterprising performers could have other plans for the home team.
At their newly adopted Dr. Kwame Kyei Sports complex at Abrankese, King Faisal would hope to make the ground a waterloo for visiting teams including tomorrow’s Division One League opponents, Steadfast FC.
Faisal has lacked consistency in the elite league and paid for that with a mid-table position.
Facing a lower ranked club must present Faisal a much easier task to get some of their acts right but at the same time be minded of the competition’s nature of uncertainty.
Nsoatreman FC will welcome Debibi United to the Nana Konamansah Park in another game expected to be full of fireworks just like the last Northern sector clash between Real Tamale United against FC Samartex at the Aliu Mahama Stadium in Tamale.
Liberty Professionals will play as guests of Dreams FC at the Dawu Theatre of Dreams as the biggest clash in the Southern sector.
With the big clubs like Hearts of Oak and Great Olympics dropping out as major casualties, the onus will lie on the tiny shoulders of Liberty Professionals, Legon Cities and Dreams FC who would be expected to carry the torch of the zone.
Liberty Professionals with their experience in the Premier League must be able to overcome this task to snatch one of the slots for the quarter final stage.
But Dreams have develop a knack to go beyond this stage of the competition. In their previous game, they ended the run of Hearts in Accra and are also in a pole position to repeat the performance of last year to at least equal last season’s feat of a quarter-final berth.
Legon Cities will oblige Division One League (DOL) side Volta Rangers at the Elwak Stadium; Heart of Lions will face Skyy FC just as Ebusua Dwarfs host Kotoku Royals at the Robert Mensah stadium.
BY ANDREW NORTEY