Kumasi Asante Kotoko would carry the nation’s hopes as they travel to Cameroun to encounter Coton Sport in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup tie at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in the northern Camerounian city of Garoua tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Coach Charles Kwablan Akonnor would miss the services of some of his key players, including Jordan Opoku, Daniel Nii Adjei and Naby Keita, who were dropped from the final squad which left Accra for Cameroun yesterday, but the coach remains confident his side would be up to the task against Coton Sport.
Akonnor’s squad for Sunday’s playoff round game includes Safiu Fatawu, Kwame Bonsu and Prince Acquah whom he must psyche to blend very well with the team that held the Kariobangi Sharks of Kenya to a goalless draw in the preliminary stage in Kenya.
Coton Sport, the reigning Camerounian champions, were eliminated from the Africa Champions League competition after losing 2-3 to Ismaily of Egypt on aggregate and now look to the second tier competition for continental glory.
Beyond that, the Garoua-based team appear to be a very formidable side and they possess one of the best attacking sides in the Camerounian league after scoring 59 goals to win the league.
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Coach Akonnor recognises that potential threat by the home side and says Kotoko’s defence must be tough on the Coton sport forwards and also maintain utmost concentration throughout the 90 minutes to get a favourable result ahead of the return encounter in Kumasi.
The likes of skipper Amos Frimpong, Emmanuel Agyeman Badu, Abass Mohammed and Augustine Sefah will be expected to maintain a solid wall at the rear and provide a good shield for goalkeeper Felix Annan to ensure they keep Coton Sport forwards, including slippery Daouda Kamilou, at bay.
Kamilou, the 31-year-old Nigerien player, has been at the heart of Coton Sport’s sterling performance this season and contributed the two goals in their 3-1 win over ASFB during their CAF Champions League tie last month. He could be a thorn in the flesh of Kotoko and the players must keep constant eye on him and his colleagues to ensure they don’t cause any havoc.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 2008, Coton Sport have never played against Kotoko at any level but have twice fallen to Ghanaians sides, first against Accra Hearts of Oak in the 2004 CAF Confederation Cup and against Berekum Chelsea in the CAF Champions League playoff in 2012, with Chelsea stunning the Camerounians 2-1 in Garoua after playing a scoreless draw at the Golden City Park.
Kotoko will be looking forward to repeating their gallant performance in Nairobi by avoiding defeat on Sunday to brighten their chance of reaching the group stage of the competition.