Kotoko poised to beat Sharks today

BY: Beatrice Laryea
Songne Yacouba — Kotoko
Songne Yacouba — Kotoko

Kumasi Asante Kotoko will today open their CAF Confederation Cup campaign against the Kenyan Premiership side, Kariobangi Sharks, at the Moi International Stadium in Nairobi after qualifying to this stage without kicking a ball.

The Sharks sailed to this stage after beating Arta Solar of Djibouti 9-1 on aggregate, while Kotoko qualified with a walkover following Cameroun’s inability to register a team for the competition.

Ahead of the duel, which will be officiated by Pierre Ghistain Atcho from Gabon, Kotoko’s coach, Charles Akonnor, said he was optimistic that their preparations for the game was good enough to earn them victory over the Kenyans and to reduce the pressure ahead of the return leg in Kumasi.

However, the much-anticipated cracker will test the strength of Akonnor and his counterpart, William Muluya, who has two titles in his young career.

In October, Muluya guided  Sharks to end Gor Mahia's dominance with a 4-2 post-match penalty win in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield Cup after a barren draw in regular time.

According to media reports, Sharks have accused the Ghanaian club of making unrealistic demands since they arrived in Kenya last Thursday for the match.

Coach Akonnor's men have blamed the home team for providing a small team bus and also refusing to grant them access to a standard training pitch to prepare for the game and threatened to mete out similar treatment to the Kenyan side when they travel to Ghana for the second leg.

However, Nick Mwendwa, president of the KFK, who is also the founder of Kariobangi Sharks, has dismissed the claims made by Kotoko and stated that it was the same bus they gave to Ghana’s senior national team, the Black Stars, when they engaged the Harambee Stars of Kenya in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier two months ago.

During a visit to the team, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Mrs Francisca Ashitey-Odunton, urged the Kotoko players and the technical handlers to defeat the Kenyan side as a revenge for the Black Stars' loss to their Kenyan counterparts in a recent AFCON qualifier in Nairobi in September.

According to her, the Porcupine Warriors should not to allow the Kenyans defeat Ghana for the second time in a year and tasked them to avenge the 1-0 defeat Black Stars suffered at the hands of the Harambee Stars.

The second leg will be played on Saturday, December 22, at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.