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Sports News of Sunday, 15 September 2019

Source: jeromeotchere.com

Kotoko to break Etoile's resolve


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The stage is set for Sunday’s crucial CAF Champions League, second preliminary round fixture, between Asante Kotoko and Etoile du Sahel at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi. Etoile have been one tough side in CAF inter club competitions over the years while Kotoko are on a kind of resurgence, seeking to recapture its lost glory in African football.

In what is surely one of Kotoko’s biggest matches in recent years, the Porcupines must overcome the Tunisian side in the pursuit of the group stage qualification ticket. It’s been 13 years since Kotoko made it to league stage of the CAF Champions League. Drawing inspiration from the 2018 experience, where they ended an 11-year wait to the group stage of the Confederation Cup, hopes are that, the same story will be written in the Champions League.

That story starts on Sunday against Etoile, who overpowered Kotoko under highly controversial circumstances when they last visited in 2008. Sunday’s game must be devoid of controversy. The Porcupines respect the Tunisians as an experienced side but that is not admission of superiority as that supremacy will be determined on the field of play in 90 minutes.

Coach Kjetil Zachariassen has been on top of developments in camp ahead of the game. He has been outlining his strategy for the Tunisians, saying that, the ultimate goal is to win both at home and away. That sounds ambitious but that powerfully underlines Kotoko’s seriousness.

“We play our football everywhere we go,” said Coach Zachariassen in his preview. “We are going to try to win in Kumasi, and also try to win in Tunisia in the second leg. That is the plan we take into every game” he stated. The coach maintains that, he has studied Etoile. His plan however, is not be so much about his opponent.

“It is about us; how well we know ourselves and what we have to do. We know what we can do to get there. We are getting better and better every week,” he stressed. Player confidence has also been high. Emmanuel Gyamfi and Team Manager, Ohene Brenya back that assertion.

“We know our target for this game” said Gyamfi. “We can only secure qualification after beating them in both legs. We are determined, we are focused. One thing I can assure everyone is that, Etoile will lose on Sunday. They are a good side but we believe in our abilities and there will be no need putting pressure on ourselves because I believe we can do it,” he added.

“The [players] are ready for the game” Ohene Brenya stated. “They are aware of what is at stake. I say confidently, that, we’ve prepared adequately for victory. Not just mere victory, but a convincing one that will see us progressing”. The team has gone through numerous drills to take on Etoile with every member of the team being in good health.

That gives Coach Zachariassen ample room to make the best of choices in terms of selection. Goalkeeper and captain, Felix Annan and his teammates remain focused. Songne Yacouba is likely to return. His presence is will add bite to the attack, who must live up to expectation.

The appeal to fans to throng the stadium is vital. They should come in big numbers to create the enthusiastic, charged atmosphere to break the Tunisians. A Kotoko win is guaranteed but it will come with sweat. The team must be efficient, take their chances and leave nothing to chance.

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