Kumasi Asante Kotoko limp into their first game in this year’s CAF Confederation Cup against nine-time Congo Brazzaville side, Athletique Renaissance Aiglon (CARA) at the Baba Yara Stadium on Sunday with striker Abass Mohammed being ruled out by a chronic ankle injury for the next eight months.
Abass, the former Medeama player is one of Kotoko’s three main arrowheads for the campaign, but Coach Steve Polack now looks to Saddick Adams and Yakubu Mohammed to lead a two-prong attack for the campaign.
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He is expected to undergo surgery in the coming days to correct a recurrent injury problem which has temporarily truncated his progressive football career.
Also of concern to Polack is the fitness of Collins Ameyaw who is recovering from a knock he received during training session and could return to action by the weekend.
Kotoko, who are aiming to make a big return to continental football, moved into residential camping early this week with Polack working on team tactics in two sessions daily, to ensure a good start to their campaign in Kumasi on Sunday.
Despite an unimpressive pre-season campaign in both the GHALCA G8 and the StarTimes GFA Gala, the Porcupine Warriors are hopeful of a good win on Sunday.
The club’s management is keen to ensure they improve this season after suffering a first round knockout in the Confederation Cup two seasons ago. This time the club’s lawyer and management member, Yaw Acheampong Boafo, told the Graphic Sports that “we are expecting the boys to do well.”
Support for the team has been soaring each day and last Monday, the National Circles Chairman (Kotoko’s supporters wing), Kwaku Amponsah, also known as Chairman K5, sponsored 500 tickets to be given to fans who would call into various sports programmes on radio in Kumasi as part of efforts to hype up the match.
In a bid to fill the stadium on Sunday,the Kotoko management has reduced prices of the gate fees, particularly for the popular stands, from GH¢10 to GH¢8, with the Centre Line going for GH¢15 and GH¢60 for the VIP Stand.
The Congolese side are expected in Kumasi on Friday morning and will train at the Paa Joe Park located at the University of Science and Technology (KNUST) later in the day and then have access to the Baba Yara Stadium on Saturday.
Winners of then African Cup for Champions Cup (now CAF Champions League) in 1974, CARA have failed to glitter at the continental level in recent years and were knocked out at the preliminary stages in 2014 and 2015 of the competition.