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Soccer News of Thursday, 18 September 2003

Source: GNA

Kotoko set to redeem Ghana's image

Accra Sept 18, GNA - League leaders Kumasi Asante Kotoko, remains Ghana's only hope on the continent and would seek to sustain this hope when they battle APR of Rwanda in the second leg of the Africa Cup Winners Cup Competition in Kigali this weekend.
Kotoko does not only hold the responsibility of qualifying for the semi finals of the competition but must also redeem the nations image which was dented by the same country a few moths ago when the Black Stars were prevented from taking part in next years Nations Cup after they were pipped by the national team of Rwanda in the second leg of the qualifying match.
However the fabulous lads seem to have a daunting task on their hands as they are going into the battle with, a not too comfortable win in the first leg having to fight from a goal deficit after 80 minutes of play to win the match 2-1.
For the Rwandese the score line seemed to be a good one for them and they have sent down strong signals of going all out to ensure their qualification to the next stage.
The Rwandese seem to be deceiving themselves because they might not be aware of the fighting spirit of Kotoko even in the enemy territory. Their campaign in the same tournament last year is a typical example of what they are capable of doing especially their matches involving, Mahala of Egypt and AS Police of Congo.
The team, which had slight problems with the fitness of some players, seem to have overcome that headache following the swift recovery of injured players like Charles Taylor, Nana Arhin Duah and Shilla Alhassan.
Though the absence of Issah Ahmed, Yussif Chibsah, Moses Tetteh and Isaac Boakye might affect the team due to their not being registered for Africa, Coach Abdul Karim Razak still has the materials for the crucial encounter.
An assessment of the team from the defence shows that though Godfred Yeboah and Ahmed will not be available, the likes of Dan Yeboah, Joe Hendricks, Dan Acquah and over lapping Aziz Ansah together with young Micheal Ofosu-Appiah have the character to put the breaks on the fast and athletic attackers of Rwanda to prevent them from finding the net again.
In midfield where every operation will be initiated, a good day for Eddy Owusu-Ansah, Steven Oduro and Micheal Asante coupled the ability of Aziz Ansah to overlap and support the midfield effectively will provide the right tonic for the attackers of Kotoko to clinch a sweet victory.
The Kotoko attack which is one of the best in the country at the moment is made up of 2002 goal king Charles Taylor, together with the clubs leading scorer in the competition last season, Michael Osei and the presence of Nana Arhin-Duah as well as Shilla Alhassan who are back from injury.
However the ability of the team to win in Kigali will depend largely on the technical advise to be provided by head coach Razak and his including seasoned coach Malik Jabir and Frempong Manso. Their ability to make a good judgment of the game before and during the game will strengthened the chances of the team to realise their dream.
The head coach is aware that failure on his part in this game will have serious effects on his position in the helm of affairs of the team since he had been blamed for poor outings of late. The responsibility is now on him to help the team to advance to the next stage of the competition to save his job.
All things being equal, the fighting spirit of Kotoko will spur the fabulous lads on to go all out to make the nation proud