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Kotoko sure to surprise Al Hilal

BY: Peter Sarbah
 Sogne Yacouba
Sogne Yacouba

Despite leaving out two of his most experienced stars, Coach Charles Akonnor, will be expecting to lead Kumasi Asante Kotoko to pull off a surprise when they play Al Hilal in the CAF Confederation Cup game in Omdurman, Sudan, tomorrow.

Coach Akonnor axed Jordan Opoku and Daniel Nii Adjei from his 18-man squad expected to defend the Porcupine Warriors’ continental club group stage campaign which they qualified for the first time in 11 years.

Although the duo have a history of previously helping Congolese side, T.P Mazembe win the competition in 2015, the 44-year-old manager prefers to rather keep faith with younger but inexperienced stars for this encounter.

This will be the third time the Porcupine Warriors will be clashing with the North Africans in the continental competition after their debut in 1990 ended on a 4-3 aggregate in favour of Kotoko. Unfortunately, this will deny Al Hilal the opportunity to progress from the quarter final stage of the CAF Champions League.

Subsequently, the Garden City club earned a 3-2 aggregate win over Al Hilal some 14 years ago in the same competition and this has soared the Ghanaian coach’s confidence of once again getting a favourable result in this encounter.

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Even though Al Hilal have declared their 62,000 capacity stadium a no-go area for any of the clubs in Group C, Akonnor is certain to unleash some of his finest young lads, including Emmanuel Gyamfi, Songne Yacouba, Amos Frimpong, Felix Annan, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Maxwell Baakoh to deflate the egoes of the host.

But Coach Irad Zaafouri, who has guided Al Hilal to lead the Sudanese league with 22 points after nine games, will be hoping to end Kotoko’s dominance over them this time round by devising a different tactical approach to subdue Kotoko’s threat in this duel.

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With the likes of skipper Motwakel Adam, Hussein Ibrahim, Sergio Uyi, Mohamed Mokhtar Mohamed Bashir and Waleed Bakhet Hamid, the Sundanese coach is certain he can apply the breaks on the visitors to ensure Al Hilal starts the group stage of the competition with aplomb.

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