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02.05.2008 Football News

Can Kotoko Survive The Battle Of Tamale?

By John Vigah - newtimesonline.com

Onetouch Premiership leaders, Kumasi Asante Kotoko will seek to protect their near-unblemished record in the season when they slug it out with real Tamale United (RTU) this afternoon.

The Porcupine Warriors were left badly bruised from a CAF Confederation Cup campaign in Calabar, slumping 0-2 to Nigeria’s Dolphins last Sunday – and see the Tamale outstanding premiership tie as a do-and die affair.

While they were wrapped up in continental battle, the Asanteman Warriors had their seven-point lead slashed by three, following the vintage 2-0 win of Liberty Professionals over Sekondi Hasaacas at the Carl Reindorf Park in Dansoman.

Upshot of the Dansoman game may have served the double blow to the Kotoko contingent.

A huge, intolerable pressure is therefore on the league leaders to produce a result, good enough to soothe the hearts of their mammoth disciples. But the 64,000 dollar question remains: Can the Porcupine Warriors upstage the 'Jewel of the North' in their own fortress?

Indeed, RTU have metamorphosed into a delightful piece of creation since relocating from the craggy Kaladan Park to the state-of-the-art Tamale Sports Stadium.

It is no longer a penance, but a luxury to see the Tamale lads demonstrate the kind of stuff they possess at home. And, Kotoko must really be on the qui vive for 100 minutes of ‘torture’ in order to avoid any unpalatable result.

They dragged the defending champions, Accra Hearts of Oak, to the ‘Tamale guillotine’ in the first round, and beating another Gulliver of the Ghanaian game might not be too much a Herculean undertaking.

Probably, if there is anybody the Kotoko armada would very much dread today – it is coach Abdul Razak, the man who spearheaded them to their first premiership coronation in 2003.

Razak, 1978 African Footballer of the Year, has moulded RTU into a near dynamite since joining them this season.

He knows the in-and-out of the Porcupine Warriors, a side he is poised to beat to prove a case.

In terms of quality representation, however, Kotoko seem to be stronger on paper as they boast the likes of ‘General’ and skipper Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, domestic top scorer Eric Bekoe, Richard Manu, Harrison Afful, Nana Arhin Duah and Osei Kwame Jnr, among other crack names.

But RTU hope to count on a mixture of raw determination, aggression and the unflinching support at home to upset the league leaders.

At nail-biting thrilling session is hugely guaranteed. No two ways about that. The result? A pulsating drawn game look possible.

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