2 Ghanaian clubs in tough CAF championship fixtures

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Champion club of Ghana, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak will kick start their African Champions League campaigns this weekend with tight encounters.
Kotoko trek to Algeria as guests of JS Kabylie, while Hearts of Oak welcome Enyimba of Nigeria to their 'home away from home' at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.
Hearts will miss their favourite Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra, which is under reconstruction for CAN 2008, which Ghana will host.
Going into this tie against North African opposition, Kotoko will not have the full complement of their players due to one factor or the other.
Black Stars centre back, Shilla Illiasu and talismanic Charles Taylor are ineligible due to suspension, having picked two yellow cards apiece during the preliminary stages, while Aziz Ansah and Yusif Chibsah are missing.
Ansah and Chibsah who were on the standby list of the Black Stars in Germany during the World have failed to return to their club after the competition.
Reports say Ansah is on trials in Russia, while Chibsah is 'holidaying' in England.
Worse still, dependable wing back Godfrey Yeboah is also down with malaria and may not be in the starting line up.
Despite the huge setback, coach Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie was optimistic before departing to Algeria.
"We are going there to give them a good fight and try as much as possible to get at least a point.
" The coach's confidence might be buoyed by the quality of players he still has in his arsenal, despite the absence of the five mentioned earlier.
In youthful Eric Nii Baah, coach Afranie has a dependable goalkeeper, who has matured in the game and has indeed distinguished himself in recent matches.
He will be ably guided and guarded by a back line, which would include Sammy Addo, Kenneth Ababio, Daniel Acquah and William Thompsom, while the engine will be oiled from the middle by rasta haired Michael Asante, Douglas Nkrumah and Kwbena Dodzi.
The Kotoko attack could be a handful for their opponents if they really get into their element early in the match.
The power play of Kwame Obeng Darko, the aggression of Nana Arhin Duan and the sleekness of George Yamoah could be a combined force to destabilise any defence on the continent.
A really hard fight is anticipated and chances are the victor would triumph by a narrow margin.
Contrary to Kotoko's misfortune of going into their match with a depleted side, Hearts of Oak have no hindrance, as they wait to tango Enyimba on Sunday.
Coach Oti Akenten has registered Eric Gawu from King Faisal to add bite to their attack, which also has Reuben Senyo scoring in every match since he joined from Bofoakwa in the off season.
Laud Quartey has been a befitting replacement for goalkeeper Sammy Adjei who has joined the professional trail to Israel and coach Akenten should rather have difficulty selecting his back four from the array of stars he has at his disposal.
Dan Quaye has rejoined the squad from his duties with the Black Stars after the World Cup and Daniel Coleman has returned to the club after a loan spell in the Middle East.
Charles Vardis who joined from Real Sportive has blended so well that he does not appear as an upstart in the team.
And with Eric Nyarko, Alfred Nii Larbi and Lawrence Adjei peaking for the duel, Enyimba will certainly be in a match of their lives.
The fans might not be as vociferous as they had always been in Accra but the strength of Hearts of Oak cannot be a fluke, even at the Obuasi Len Clay Stadium.
What a match it promises to be between two former champions!

13 Julho 2006 19:19:00




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