CAF Women's Champions League: Ampem Darkoa coach, striker confident in title bid
Ampem Darkoa Ladies' Head Coach, Nana Joe Adarkwa, has exhibited unwavering confidence as his team gear up to face some formidable opponents in the upcoming CAF Women's Champions League, with Ghana’s champions drawn alongside reigning African champions, AS FAR of Morocco, Huracanes of Equatorial Guinea and AS Mande of Mali, in Group B of the competition.
Coach Adarkwa, in response to the draw for this continental showdown, acknowledged the challenges to be posed by the tough opposition in Cote d'Ivoire, but remained undeterred as he was committed to thoroughly prepare to take on each opponent head-on in their quest to clinch the Champions League title.
He stressed that most participating teams in the November 5 -19 competition have earned their spots as national and zonal champions, hence he believed the chances were fairly balanced, with no particular team holding a significant advantage over the others.
“AS FAR are not bigger than any other team. Every team from each country is a champion, and so are we, so we can face them squarely. It all depends on how we approach each game,” he said.
“If we are able to win at least two games, we can qualify from the group and we will make sure to prevent AS FAR from scoring any goal against us,” he added.
Coach Adarkwa acknowledged the high expectations placed on his team, especially as their local rivals, Sekondi Hassacas Ladies, reached the final of the inaugural Women's Champions League in 2021. Nevertheless, Ampem Darkoa Ladies are prepared to tackle the challenges and handle the burden of expectation.
“When we were going to the WAFU qualifiers the same pressure was there but we overcame it and won the ultimate so we are going to this competition with that same winning mentality.”
Ampem Darkoa Ladies have already begun preparations at their Techiman base. Their build-up to the continental competition in Cote d'Ivoire include participation in the upcoming Malta Guinness Women's Premier League and a final dress rehearsal at the Ghanaman Soccer Centre of Excellence at Prampram.
Meanwhile, the team's top scorer, Mary Amponsah, exuded confidence in their ability to excel in the Champions League in order to meet the expectations of Ghanaians.
She told the Graphic Sports that though this would be their maiden appearance, they were determined to make a significant impact on the continental stage.
Acknowledging the high stakes and pressure to win, she underlined the players resolve to overcome it by going as far as possible, and ultimately securing the trophy.
“We are not afraid of any team, especially AS FAR, because most of their players are part of their national teams and so are we. We just have to listen to our coaches and stick to their orders,” she said.
“We know that expectations are high and the pressure to win is also there but as players we have psyched ourselves to overcome the pressure by going as far as possible and winning the trophy.”
At just 17 years old, Amponsah was the top scorer in both the 2022/23 Malta Guinness Women’s Premier League and the FA Cup. After claiming the top scorer’s prize with eight goals in the WAFU Zone B qualifying competition in August, she hopes to replicate this achievement in Abidjan.
“I am not promising anything because as a striker I depend on my fellow team mates to deliver so it is all in God’s hands. But I am telling Ghanaians that I will do whatever it takes as a player to win the top scorer award again,” she said.