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Sports News of Friday, 18 January 2019


Can Kotoko manage the pressure in Kumasi to finish off Coton Sport?

Asante Kotoko Asante Kotoko

Coton Sport are coming to Baba Yara Sports Stadium with the intention of halting Asante Kotoko's progress to the group stage of Caf Confederation Cup, after the first leg fixture ended 3-2 in favour of the Ghanaians.

After contemplating on whether or not to partake in this season's Caf inter-club competitions, Kotoko were eventually cleared by Ghana Football Association's Normalisation Committee to represent the country and they were fortunate to have a walkover victory in the preliminary round before struggling to see off Kariobangi Sharks from Kenya to reach the playoff.

Coton Sport need to score two unanswered goals in order to win the tie.

In the last two decades, two continental titles (African Winners Cup and Confederation Cup) have slipped through Kotoko's fingers after they failed to live up to the expectations because they could not manage the pressure surrounding the games.

Following their elimination from the Caf Champions League against MC Eulma in 2015, it took the intervention of the military and police to rescue Kotoko's players and technical team from irate supporters who jeered, whistled and threw objects on the pitch.

Kotoko midfielder Emmanuel Gyamfi admits that it is "more difficult" for them to enjoy their play at home in front of supporters than playing away games.

"Most games at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium tend to go the way of our opponents because they feel relaxed than us," the 24-year-old told Goal.

"It is always difficult for us in Kumasi but we hope to make amends against Coton Sport and qualify to the group stage for the first time in so many years," he added.

Moreover, the sloppy victories earned in their last five home matches have brought cause for concern. The performance displayed by Kariobangi Sharks in Kumasi recently has forced the Porcupine Warriors to give the upcoming fixture full concentration.

Kotoko need to stick to their gameplan in the return fixture against Coton Sport, who are yet to pick a win in Ghana or qualify over a Ghanaian club in their last three games. In 2004, they lost 3-2 against Hearts of Oak in the Caf Champions League and shared the spoils goalless against Berekum Chelsea in Accra eight years later.

However, Coton Sport, led by captain Kamilou Dauoda, could pounce on any slip up from Kotoko to carry the day in Kumasi. The visitors, who have nothing to lose, would likely adopt an attacking pattern, and perhap exploit Kotoko's weakness at home.

Obviously, the stakes are high, and despite the growing pressure coach C.K Akonnor and his charges are expected to re-write the scripts at home and win the hearts of their supporters by achieving a qualification for the first time since 2008.