12.08.2006 Football News

Hearts to battle Pirates

Hearts to battle Pirates
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A great rivalry resumes on Sunday when former champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko host title holders Al Ahly of Egypt in Obuasi in the CAF Champions league competition.

The pattern of home wins in Group A could continue this weekend as Ahly, hit by injuries and suspensions, were not particularly impressive during their 2-0 defeat of JSK.

The Egyptian giants, arrived in Ghana with a depleted squad but would be hoping to topple present group leaders, Kotoko when the two sides clash at the Obuasi Len Clay Stadium.

Al Ahly would be without six regular players including the 2005 best player for this competition Mohammed Barakat did not make the trip.

Even though Ahly have made some new signings including Angola's Flavio Amadi who impressed at the World cup, the clubs Portuguese Coach Manuel Jose believes the absence of his key players could hamper their progress on Sunday.

Meanwhile Asante Kotoko Group opponents J.S Kabylie have home advantage over Sfaxien in a North African showdown on Sunday.

With 80,000 fanatical fans expected to turn up for the game in Algiers, the Tunisians will require a sterling performance to get a positive result.

Group B matches begin on Saturday in Johannesburg, where troubled Orlando Pirates of South Africa must overcome Ghana's Hearts of Oak.

A win for Pirates in their Group B match will keep them in the hunt for a semi-final place.

The only South African side to lift the Champions League trophy, they drew at home to ASEC of Ivory Coast and away to Enyimba of Nigeria.

Defeats in their opening games to Enyimba and ASEC cost Hearts coach Oti Akenteng his job.

And with veteran Fred Osam-Duodu refusing to take over on the terms offered by Hearts, inexperienced Ato Hammond has the daunting challenge of getting a result.

Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic knows Hearts well.

While in charge of Ethiopia's Saint George, they beat the Ghanaians 4-0 in the first leg of an earlier qualifying match.

But the Ethiopians exited the competition in controversial circumstances, after they walked out of the second leg match, following their protests over the quality of refereeing.

Sredojevic has had a baptism of fire at Pirates, with a series of embarrassing pre-season losses and media reports of player indiscipline.

ASEC top Group B on goal difference, ahead of opponents Enyimba, two-time African champions.

After snatching a stoppage-time draw at Pirates, ASEC outclassed Hearts 3-0.

Enyimba are unpredictable ahead of the Abidjan clash.

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