Berekum Chelsea coach, Hans van der Plyum The campaign for the African Champions League money zone this year looks very dicey for our local representatives, Berekum Chelsea, just like their English Premiership counterparts, West London's Chelsea who have what looks like an almost impossible assignment at the home ground of their opponents, Bayern Munich, for the grand finale of the European continental honours.
Chelsea are to meet Bayern Munich at the Munich Olympic Stadium in Germany on May 19, and that must be one of the most deadly and impossible assignments for Didier Drogba and his colleagues.
At home in Africa, Berekum Chelsea in their first leg challenge with their Camerounian counterparts, Cotton Sport Garua, initially looked all set to do what they knew best in banging in the goals as they did against Raja Casablanca of Morocco whom they recently beat 5 - 0 at home and qualified for the next stage of the continental competition.
But as fate did have it, the Ghanaian champions fluffed all their chances to give their followers a nightmarish ordeal for which they had targeted to make their May Day celebration most ecstatic. The result of the first leg played at the Berekum’s Golden City Park was a goal-less draw.
The second leg scheduled for Cameroun in two weeks time thus present Chelsea with a huge problem of beating Cotton Sport Garua, by whatever margine to enter the money zone of the current competition. Of course, that will make Chelsea the only third club in this country after Ashantigold and Hearts of Oak to reach that money zone since its introduction in the 90s.
Cotton put up a plucky display, (the English Chelsea type), last Sunday to everybody's surprise, and at the end of the day, their team manager pronounced 'death' for our Chelsea in the second leg in Cameroun.
Indeed, Cotton's greatest strength almost always lies in their second leg, not even in their home advantage. The story of their last round match against Nigerian Dolphins speaks volumes. Dolphins beat them 1 - 0 in Cameroun, and just when all looked sound and solid to have advantage of their home, Garua turned the tide with a 2 - 1 victory in the second leg to qualify on away score rule.
Unlike European championships, African clubs have almost always relied on home advantage, and that makes Berekum Chelsea's qualification into the money zone a very dicey issue. However, their coach Van der Plume thinks the chances of Chelsea are still bright, despite the difficult terrain they are going to enter. He believes the first leg might have given them the opportunity to have a much closer look at their opponents' strategies for the crucial second leg.
The European championship has its own way of attracting attention. Over there, the final match is played on a neutral ground, and as stated clearly before the competition, UEFA pronounced Munich Olympic Stadium as the venue of the final this year. And incidentally Munich happens to be the home of the opponents Bayern Munich, the former employers of our top star Osei Kuffour.
The other time two top English clubs Manchester United and Chelsea qualified for the final ordeal of the competition, the venue was Moscow, the capital city of Russia. The English fans were there in their numbers, and the victory went in favour of Man U. Right now, the English Premiership top liner are not new to the task ahead, and know exactly how to succeed in the face all adversity.
You can imagine what went into their preparation in the semi-finals against almighty Barcelona, then holders of the cup, at the battle of Camp Nou in Spain.
Chelsea were forced to play with ten men against eleven in the greater part of the game, and it was a nerve-racking duel that needed a team like Chelsea to go through to win.
Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo knows exactly what to do even without his captain John Terry who was red-carded in the Barcelona match. Most of our
Chelsea fans who are still basking in the unbelievable glory of their team at Camp Nou, are not in the least scared at the home of Bayern Munich despite the intimidating presence of hitman Mario Gomez, backed by hard-working Jorgen Roben and Ribery on the front-line.
Acting skipper, Frank Lampard, and goalkeeper Petr Czeche know how to handle Bayern's marauding attacks, and all they need is just one goal in the early stages of the match. Perhaps what our local Chelsea would also need is a single goal before the end of the first half, and the rest will be history.
The story of the wars of the two Chelseas will make a very interesting reading, and the popular anticipation is that they will both make it, We live to see!