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Soccer News of Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Kotoko to play in Germany

Kotoko will embark on a twelve-day training tour next month. The club will leave on July 18 and play four matches starting on the 21st and then on the 22nd, 27th and 28th. The matches will be against 1860 Munich, a top Dutch team as well as two other clubs which are yet to be named.

This will not be the first time Kotoko will be going on a training tour outside Ghana. In January last year, the club then coached by Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie went to Tanzania. They spent two weeks, played three big matches and returned home with remarkable success. With the recent good performance in the Onetouch Top 4 competition it is the expectation of all Kotoko supporters that the club will excel in Germany as it did in the East African country last year.

Chairman Sylvester Asare-Owusu in an interview on Wednesday commenting on the impending tour said: “We are going on a training tour. It is not a sight-seeing. We will be playing four high profile matches and it is part of the team building process. The club’s image will be at stake so you can understand the need for us to go with a strong team” he said to a question as to which players will be on the tour.

The assertion that Kotoko’s pedigree will be at stake in all the four matches it will play in Germany cannot be overemphasied. With the current impressive performance it will be unacceptable if the club under performs during the European tour. Consequently, the technical bench has no choice than to send a formidable side.

It is public knowledge that 22 will embark on the tour but which players will comprise this twenty-two man squad? “I don’t really know. It is up to the technical bench to decide. One of the things that I know will influence their selection however performance. The performance of whoever will be picked will be good” Sylvester Asare-Owusu said.

Coach Bashir Hayford has the mandate to name the twenty-two players in the coming weeks. He has critically been observing the output of the players in camp and when I called him last Wednesday even he declined to comment indicating that when he gets to that bridge he will safely cross it.

I understood Coach Bash’s position since he then seemed to have been preoccupied with the plans to silence Hearts of Oak on Sunday. Communications Director Kwame Baah-Nuakoh when briefing the Kotoko Express two weeks said the club break for ten days after the Onetouch Top 4 competition and resume on July 2.

According to Kwame the training sessions will continue until the naming of the final 22 players. “We can expect competitiveness among the players. The training sessions will be intensified and the technical bench will settle on the best” he opined. The Communications Director is not a member of the technical bench and thus cannot tell exactly what the technical bench will use to select the final 22 players.

However he gives an insight in to some of the things that will influence the selection of the team to Germany. “Basically the twenty-two players would have to be players the coach believes will be instrumental in the team next season.

“It will mean that we will have to finish everything on the contracts of those players. The transactions and everything that will make them our players will have to be completed”. The Communication Director explained that it would be unwise for management to send 22 players to Germany only for some them to sign for other clubs when the return.

The main purpose for embarking the tour would have been defeated Kwame Baah-Nuakoh noted saying, “We will complete all negotiations with those players and register them. This will also mean that the players will have to fight for positions and get their names on the finalist”.

From Kwame’s comments an inference can be made that the final 22 players will include some new players or better still management will that ensure the players are Kotoko players before the leave for Germany. There is great wisdom in that because as the Chairman stated the club will not be going on sight-seeing. There is therefore the need for seriousness to be attached to everything concerning the tour.

So who will 22 players be? Some of the players who have been training at the Ridge Park for sometime now are Isaac Amoako, Eric Nii Baah, Mohammed Alhassan, Habib Mohammed, George Cudjoe and Patrick Lambert, Osei Kwame Junior, Daniel Nii Adjei, Ofosu Appiah, Prince Anokye, Seidu Dagano, Abdullah Mohammed, Godfred Yeboah, John Nana Acheampong, Daniel Acquah, Ahmed Nyame, Isaac Vorsah, and Murtala Mohammed.

Mention can also be made of Aduse Poku, Samuel Incoom, Mohammed Muyei, Justin Manga Manga, Abou Alhassan, Joseph Ababio, Kwabena Yaro and David Sarkodie. The rest are Samuel Arthur, Francis Coffie, Gabriel Kwarteng Pele, Kobina Dodzie, Asamoah Arhin, Edmund Owusu-Ansah, Daniel Bomfa, Francis Akwaffo, Kwame Obeng Darko, Adamu Mohammed and Emmanuel Osei Kufuor, Prince Amponsah, Douglas Nkrumah, Stephen Oduro, Ofosu Amoah, John Cudjoe, Nana Arhin Duah, Ahmed Toure and Godfred Impraim.

I cannot predict which of these players will make it to the final 22 and even if I make any list I could be accused of picking my preferences. Besides I have not been to the Ridge Park for sometime and granted that I have been there, I do not have a technical eye to select players. That is the truth!

As we all await the final 22 players for the tour, I will urge all the players to step-up their training and performance. Reports that some long-serving players are giving-up hope in the face of the on-going recruitment exercise should disturb every Kotoko fan. And as rightly noted by Operations Director, Jerry Asare, those players have to “focus on their mainline function of hard training and who knows they could secure a place in the final 22 and indeed the ‘Lucky 35’.

They must embrace the spirit of competitiveness and stop complaining. It is the good and interest of Kotoko that we all want.