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04.05.2006 General News

Jones cautiously optimistic


Accra, May 4, GNA - Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio said he is cautiously optimistic about the chances of Champions League campaigners, Accra Hearts of Oak as they play as guest of Etoile de Sahel of Tunisia in Sousse on Sunday.

The Liberty Professionals trainer who would serve as a beef up coach for the Phobians technical bench in the Sousse game, believes the Ghanaians have what it takes to qualify to the next stage of the competition often refereed to as the "money zone".

Hearts enter the game with a slender goal advantage, thus requiring at least a draw to qualify to the league stage - a feat they are yet to achieve after conquering Africa in the New Millenium.

The former African Coach of the Year who was last week engaged by the management of Hearts to assist the Francis Oti-Akenteng-led technical team in the game, which demotes the loser to the Confederations Cup competition, is buoyed about the chances of the team. He told the GNA Sports that "apart from the fact that everything is possible in football, Sahel will be under pressure to even the scores and add another to enable them carry the day.

"To me that presents us with the opportunity to make the most out of their anxiety to enable us obtain a respectable result".

Rueben Senyo a fortnight ago gave the former league champions a 1-0 advantage - a lead the coach says Hearts would fight to protect. Hearts two seasons ago bowed to Etiole at the same stage when the Tunisians cancelled the Phobians lone lead in Sousse to force the game into penalties, which they eventually won to exit the Ghanaians. Coach Attuquayefio is tasked to serve as the inspirer to the team he coached to rule the continent twice in 2000 and 2005. "I will solely be responsible for motivating the players. Coach Oti will take charge of the technical matters which I know he is perfectly up to".

Hearts would however be without two of their important strikers, Ekow Ghansah - injured and Moses Andoh who is serving a ban. Coach Oti-Akenteng would also lack the luxury of featuring workaholic midfielder, Eric Nyarko who was outpaced in his race with time after sustaining a knee strain during a Top Four duel with Asante Kotoko about a month ago.