Wydad Athletic Club arrives in Kumasi
Players and officials of Wydad Athletic Club of Casablanca (WAC) arrived in Kumasi on Thursday for their Cup Winners cup final against Kumasi Asante Kotoko on Sunday.
Even though the fans exhibited real Ghanaian hospitality, the scene could as well frighten many a team.
The 21-member Moroccan team touched down at the Airport at 11 am aboard a chartered flight and was met on arrival by a delegation from the Manhyia Palace led by Oheneba Adusei Poku, the Akyempimhene and the Kotoko management led by Mr. Herbert Mensah.
The supporters who tropped to the airport from various suburbs of the metropolis amidst chanting of Kotoko songs "Asante Kotoko Mma Ne Yen, Wo Kum Apem a Apem Beba" caused traffic hold up in the metropolis.
The enthusiasm of the supporters and the euphoria at the Airport was perhaps a foretaste of what the long suffering but dedicated fans would exhibit on Sunday. Conspicuously missing from the Moroccan contingent was their Brazilian striker, Emerson.
According to Rashid Taoussi, Deputy Technical Director of WAC, the team has not concluded negotiations with the Brazilian FA to extend his contract that has expired. But Mr. Taoussi gave the assurance that the team can still make it without Emerson.
He observed that Kotoko is a great team and a very good side just as WAC is also a great team, but Sunday would determine the best side.
He explained that the hot weather would not be a problem for WAC since most of their players have experienced such weather conditions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria before.
He, however, did not make a prediction but said "Insha Allah" WAC would win on Sunday and that WAC have three of their players who play for the national team, two for the Under-21 team and one for the Under-23 team. The Technical Director expressed appreciation about the hospitality showed them exhibited by Kotoko officials.
But WAC trainer, Oscar Fullone who could not get the chance to speak to journalists as a result of the huge crowd that surrounded him at the airport only chipped in that his side was in Kumasi to win and nothing else.
In an interaction with journalists at the airport, Mr. Herbert Mensah, Chief Executive of Kotoko, said the Kotoko boys were focused adding " to them they felt they needed victory on Sunday more than their vociferous fans needed it." He declined predicting the score line but gave the assurance that victory would be for Kotoko on Sunday.
Prominent among the WAC team are Kassab Jermouni, Jabiri Laraj, Abram Erraji, Mobrouk Madthi, Khamma Touta and Azza Oumanssour. The rest are lansri Oussiagh, Aitlaarif Janabi, Hakim Bahatid, Loussi and Talha Rahi. Kotoko's trainer, Ralf Zumdick who was informed that WAC was in town, welcomed them and said his side would teach them a great lesson on Sunday.
Meanwhile, President John Kufuor has sent a goodwill message to the management and Board of Directors of Kumasi Asante Football Club in their second final football match encounter with WAC of Morocco next Sunday.
A statement issued in Accra and signed by Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, a Presidential Spokesperson, said it was the first time any Ghanaian club had reached the final stage of the Cup Winners' Cup competition.
"I have little doubt that the players in particular would be inspired by this sense of history to play above themselves to bring honour not only to themselves but also to Mother Ghana as a whole."
The statement said in spite of the lost of the first match by a goal down, the team would be able to surmount all odds to emerge victorious and lift the cup at stake for the first time for glory of Ghana.
The President prayed that the match would be played in the highest tradition of fair play and discipline to avoid the detraction from the glorious victory that would be achieved. The statement said: " Kotoko has a proud tradition in African continental competitions, having won the prestigious champion clubs trophy twice already."