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Sports News of Saturday, 28 November 2015


SIC Nyametei SWAG Cup: Kotoko vs Ashgold preview

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Kumasi Asante Kotoko will be locking horns with Obuasi AshantiGold SC in what appears a battle of superiority or revenge for Bashiru Hayford and David Duncan respectively. Will Bashiru Hayford stamp his superiority over Duncan or Duncan will avenge the defeats he has suffered in the hands of Bash?

Coach Duncan will obviously be left with the headache of making a choice of a goalkeeper to keep the post while his counterpart Bashiru Hayford is sure to rely on Black Stars assistant goalie, Fatu Dauda.

Duncan has at his disposal three national goalies any of whom can be the first choice in any game. Felix Annan was among the best three goalies selected by the Premier League Board while Ofori Antwi has been in devastating form for the 2014 champions with Ernest Sowah believed to have hit top form as he seeks to re-launch his ailing career. Whoever Duncan chooses will be a tremendous determining factor in the triumph or otherwise of the Porcupine Warriors in the game.

The two sides seem to have the same challenges in defense with AshGold slightly comfortable with their back four of Tijani Joshua, Henry Traore, Nafiu Awudu and Kadri Mohammed while Kotoko is likely to experiment a possible partnership between versatile defender Ahmed Adams and newbie Richard Osei Agyemang while Christopher Bonney and Amos Frimpong are sure to handle the right and left back positions respectively.

The absence of AshGold captain Lawrence Lartey is likely not to be felt as Kadri Mohammed comfortably settled in the center back role when Lartey got injured after three matches in the just ended First Capital Plus Premier League. Lawrence’s comeback after ten matches could not unsettle Kadri as Bashiru Hayford seemed to have found more solace in him at the back.

However, David Duncan will have a little challenge as to who to settle on to partner Ahmed Adams in central defense; will it be Ohene Brenya or it will be former Medeama defender Evans Quao or Osei Agyemang will catch the favoured eye of the Kotoko gaffer? Abeiku Ainooson’s absence will surely be felt by the Porcupine Warriors as the players mentioned earlier have not partnered each other in a competitive match situation. Perhaps, experience will favour Ohene Brenya at the back.

Bashiru Hayford will have the luxury of making an unchallenged choice of placing the Most Valuable Player of the First Capital Plus Premier League, Eric Opoku in front of the center backs to offer more protection to the ‘Lion’ at the back. That will obviously give tactical headaches to David Duncan as he continues with his experimentation. Duncan will surely have a better match for the same role if he settles on Jackson Owusu. But should the master tactician choose to use Theophilus Nyame for that role, then Ashgold will surely have an advantage of cohesion and experience in the defensive midfield role.

Offensively, Bernard Morrison’s absence from the Aboakese squad will pose a great challenge for Bashiru Hayford. Scoring 6 goals as a midfielder in 21 matches in the just ended league, Morrison was touted as one of the best ball handlers in the league. His absence will surely create a vacuum in the offensive midfield role for the Yellow and Blacks as Emmanuel Osei Baffour prefers playing wide than being drafted deep in midfield. This is where Duncan can avenge his Otumfuo Cup defeat should he take advantage. Kojo Poku, who many thought could have been the best midfielder for Kotoko last season if he had been given enough playing time is likely to get the nod to steer the affairs offensively for the Reds. And if that happens, then expect fireworks at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium tomorrow. However, if Coach Bash decides to settle on the twin brothers of Alhassan and Fuseini Nuhu, then the pendulum is sure to swing in favour of the visitors.

Both clubs, however, have a pool of talent to choose from to handle the roles at the right and left side of midfield. Bashiru Osman, who sometimes prefers playing up front to support the main striker, is usually used by Coach Bash at the right side of midfield while Emmanuel Osei Baffour takes the left side of midfield as a new entrant, Dauda Mohammed of Dunkwa United leading the attack alongside former New Edubiase striker, Fuseini Nuhu.

The thought of Duada Mohammed of Asante Kotoko always provides David Duncan with comfort as the absence of Ahmed Toure was not much felt because of his scoring prowess. The 19-year old Dauda has proved a great addition to the Kotoko side coming from the junior side. Duncan will equally have Sarfo Gyamfi and Eric Donkor for the right and left midfield roles respectively while Emmanuel Asante supports Dauda upfront.

A cagey encounter it will be and too close to pinpoint who will carry the day. The field will obviously decide the victor.

Will it be Fabulous or Aboakese?

Let’s meet at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium tomorrow.