CAF Champion League: Kotoko in a must win encounter against Kano Pillars

Accra- After suffering a narrow 3-2 defeat to Nigerian giants Kano Pillars, Kumasi Asante Kotoko will be in a must win encounter with the Masu Gida side as both sides, will come face to face in the second leg of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) Champions League preliminary stage.

The crucial game would be played at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Sunday.

Having reached the group stages of the last year’s CAF Confederation Cup, as well as winning the maiden Normalisation Committee Special Competition Tier One, Kotoko would aim at continuing their success in champions league level.

The 1970 and 1998 competition champions, have suffered early elimination from their previous two participations in the champions league, having suffered the last one in 2015 at hands of Algerian side, MC El Oulma 2-1 on aggregate.

Kotoko, met a similar fate earlier in 2013 exiting the competition at the same stage, falling to yet another Algerian side JSM Bejaia, on the away goal rule after a 1-1 tie on aggregate.

Kotoko would be facing Kano Pillars with an entirely different technical staff following the exit of Charles Kwablan Akunnor. His replacement, Kjetil Zachariason, though with little experience in the continental club championship, believes they have what it takes to overturn the scoreline on Sunday.

“We have been very serious in training since we returned and the players are responding to the tactics,” Coach Zachariasen said.

The exit of some key players in the team has seen its management go on a shopping spree, recruiting about 12 new players including Justice Blay and Godfred Assiama who scored the important two away goals.

The 23 times Ghana Premier League champions would be missing the services of experienced duo, Jordan Opoku and Augustine Okrah but the good news for Coach Zachariasen is that, star striker Sogne Yacouba has returned to full training and his presence in the team would booster the team’s attack.

On the other hand, Kano Pillars, the away team qualified for the competition after placing second in the 2019 Nigerian top flight league, behind Enyimba and they would be making their sixth appearance in history after four years of absence.

The Masu Gida team, best ever run in the tournament was in 2009, when they reached the semifinals and earned them the nickname “Ahly Killers” after their impressive two goals in Egypt with continents giants Al Ahly in Cairo with the return leg ended 1-1 in advantage of the Nigerians.

Kano Pillars would be going into the game with confidence having scored three goals against their opponent in the first leg and knowing that at least a draw can give them the qualification.

They have lost only one of their last nine games including last month historical victory in the Nigeria National Cup (Aiteo Cup), which was their first time since their formation in 1990.

The away team has no fresh injury concerns with all their key players available for the crucial game in Kumasi.

Coach Ibrahim Musa speaking ahead of the game said, “We are preparing massively to come to Ghana and beat them on Sunday because my team is doing well and I trust them.

Source: Ghana News Agency