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29.03.2005 Football News

Kotoko coach cautiously optimistic for Sunday's match

By GNA

Accra, March 29, GNA - Kumasi Asante Kotoko's coach, Malik Jabir is cautiously optimistic about his side's chances ahead of their crucial league decider against Accra Hearts of Oak at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra on Sunday.

The two teams are to clash in a decider for the 2004 Premier League championship.

Coach Jabir said he seeks to repeat his side's 2-0 victory over the Phobians in the 2004 Coca Cola Top Four tourney in Kumasi when the two clubs cross swords at the nation's Wembley on Sunday, but said he was undoubtedly conscious of the threat the Confederation Cup Champions can pose to his aspirations.

He told the GNA Sports, "I am fully aware of what Hearts is made of and thus have great respect for them, though I know victory would be ours on Sunday".

This determination, he says had influenced his decision to move the team to Winneba for a secret camping aimed at building the mental focus of the team largely expected to be dominated by a bunch of newly recruited players.

"We are moving to Winneba this (Tuesday) afternoon in my quest to re-orient the boys up for the game. I yearn to build on their endurance capacity in the next few days away from our demanding supporters".

The "Porcupine Warriors" resumed training on Tuesday morning after the Easter break with a full house, but coach Jabir plans to fall on most of the newly signed on players ahead of their experienced colleagues.

"If offered the chance, I would rather love to use most of the new boys who beamed with determination to prove their worth, rather than some of the older and experienced once whose mental fitness remain doubtful".

The former national star explained further that, " some past occurrences must still be hunting most of the boys and I believe relying on the younger once would be a wise decision".

Comparing his team's strength to the depleted Phobians who have struggled in recent times to raise a team, he noted "I would not fall for theories that we are ahead of Hearts in terms of parading a good team and match fitness and therefore relax.

I seriously know what Hearts can do even when they parade women against Kotoko and I would not take chances".

Sunday's clash determines the overall champion for last year's Novelty League that saw Kotoko and Hearts top their respective Zones. It would be their first meeting after January 9 encounter in the historic Confederation Cup grand finale which Hearts toppled Kotoko on penalties in front of their expectant supporters in the Garden City. It would also be the coach's debut after succeeding Dieter Schmidt who received the boot after the Confederation Cup defeat.

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