Medeama SC, Dreams FC battle for continental glory
Medeama SC and Dreams FC, Ghana's representatives in continental competitions, are gearing up for a pivotal weekend of continental competition as they aim to secure coveted spots in the group stage of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup.
While Medeama play Guinean side, Horoya AC in their return leg at the Stade General Lansana Conte in Conakry on Saturday, Dreams FC will faceoff with Sierra Leonean side Kallon FC at the Samuel Anyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia.
The Ghanaian league champions would be heading into the return leg with a two-goal advantage following their 3-1 victory in the first leg at the Cape Coast Stadium last week.
But even with the two-goal deficit, the Guineans have not given up on the fight for qualification and they are confident they can still pull up a surprise by scoring more than three goals to make it to the next stage of the competition.
To achieve this, they have orchestrated a strategy of filling the stadium by allowing free entry for all fans to ensure they create an intimidating atmosphere which can help put fear in Medeama to surrender.
Horoya is not new to a Ghanaian opponent in this competition, and it would be recalled that in 2000 they were beaten by Hearts of Oak 2-1 in Accra and drew 2-2 in the return leg to enable Guinea to progress to the next stage of the competition.
The Tarkwa-based side is targeting a similar achievement by drawing inspiration from Dreams FC who also kicked out another Guinea side, Milo FC, from the Confederation Cup.
The task could prove herculean for Coach Augustine Evans Adotey who has lost key players his first-team players to the Maltese league following a massive transfer that hit the club ahead of the start of the competition. Also missing the return encounter is influential club captain Vincent Atinga who has completed his contract with the Ghanaian champions.
Coach Adotey admitted after the first leg match in Cape Coast that Horoya were no pushovers as his side had to sweat to score three goals and also deal with the attacking threat of the Guineans.
“Beating Horoya AC 3-1 does not make them a weak side, they are a very good side. You could see in the last 15 minutes although we were desperate but any time they had a counterattack, we were in trouble.
“So, I will say we played against a good side but just that we took our chances unlike the other time when we could not create chances like we did today,” the coach said.
Nana Kofi Babil, Nurudeen Abdulai and Kofi Asmah who scored in the last game are expected to feature in Saturday’s game and produce a similar performance to that of the first leg to ensure they make it to the group stage of the competition.
For Horoya, a semi-finalist in the competition during the 2019/20 season and considered giants in the continental competition, they will put up a strong fight on home soil in a bid to frustrate their Ghanaian opponents and also secure a slot in the group stages of the competition.
With a record of 12 previous appearances in the CAF Champions League, alongside an enviable record as 20 times Guinea champions, Coach Lamine N'Diaye has a tough task on hand and pride to protect as he faces a determined Medeama side also planning to protect their two-goal advantage for a place in the next stage of the competition.
For Dreams FC, the shift in the return encounter to Monrovia offers them a soft landing as the Samuel Doe stadium will serve as a neutral ground because Kallon FC does not have a CAF-approved stadium to host Saturday's match.
Despite playing in Monrovia, Coach Abdul Karim Zito and his players know that the Sierra Leoneans will not be an easy side to deal with after the visitors scored a vital goal in the first leg match in Accra in their 1-2 loss.
Assistant Coach of Dreams FC, Winfred Dormon, said he was confident they would map out the right strategy to survive the return leg match.
“I believe that when we go, they have to open up, which we can also take our chances and we can also take the game to them. I believe we have to change our strategy and our approach and change the structure of the team,” he said.
Togolese referee Aklesso Gnama will officiate the match, with compatriots Komlan Domenyo Adiwotso and Abdou Kpelafia serving as assistant referees.
The fourth official for the game will be Ghanaian referee Vincentia Enyonam Amedome.
Alhaji Babagana Kalli from Nigeria will be overseeing the match as the Match Commissioner, while Songor Koedoyama will assume the role of medical officer.