26.07.2006 Football News

Hearts, Kotoko Ready For Asec, Sfaxien Challenges

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Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko have plunged into their final tune-ups as the weekend's CAF Champions League games approach.Coach Francis Oti Akenten leads Hearts into one last trial match tomorrow before the team leaves Accra for Abidjan on Friday, via a chatered flight, for their Group B clash with Cote d'Ivoire's Asec Mimosas on Sunday.

Kotoko play Division One side Adansiman United at Obuasi, also tomorrow, before taking on Tunisian side, Club Sportive Sfaxien, at Obuasi on Saturday.

Coach E.K. Afranie told the Daily Graphic that "the soft trial" coming after days of strenuous field exercises was to wind up the teams conditioning and tactics for the game against Sfaxien.

"We have done a lot already and we can only await the match. That, notwithstanding, we will not take chances on Saturday," Afranie said.

For Afranie, the availability of the full complement of his squad, including players returning from suspension, some recovering from injuries and others returning from brief sojourns in Europe, provides him big relief for the challenge posed by Sfaxien who are expected in Accra tomorrow evening.

Aziz Ansah and Yusif Chibsah have returned from their separate trials in Europe, just as Shilla Alhassan who was suspended for Kotoko's opening group game against Jean Sportive Kabylie of Algeria.

All three were absent when Kotoko lost 1-0 in Algiers. Tomorrow's match against Feyenoord at Feteh will be Hearts' third game in five days following clashes with Liberty Professionals last Sunday and Feyenoord yesterday.

Hearts Administrative Manager, Ashford Tettey Oku, said the trial matches were strategically designed by Coach Oti Akenten to rehearse for Asec where they hope to revive their campaign with a respectable result.

Hearts opened their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Enyimba of Nigeria at Obuasi, leaving them bottom of the group after Asec held South Africa's Orlando Pirates 1-1 in Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Hearts say there are limited seats for the round trip to Abidjan for interested fans.

A statement by Mr Oku said the trip, which would cost $500 per fan, would cover the airfare, as well as lodging fees.

The statement requested interested fans to submit their passports and the amount to the Hearts Secretariat by close of work tomorrow.

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