Midweek League: Sportive For Double Delight
Just three days after a shattering home defeat,Kumasi Asante Kotoko are faced with the difficulty of confronting the side that caused the most unlikely of shockers when the second round of the GT premiership opens tomorrow.
The Porcupine Warriors travel to Tema to play Real Sportive,easily club of the week,in a reversal of the first round fixtures.
Sportive completed a unique feat last Sunday when they beat Kotoko 2-1 at the Baba Yara Stadium of all places, thus adding the league leaders to their list of giant victims.
Like a similar result did to Hearts of Oak's 46-match unbeaten streak in league matches last year,Sportive's victory robbed Kotoko of their unbeaten home record and gave them a slim chance of keeping their leadership of the championship ahead of Hearts' home game against Feyenoord yesterday.
But Kotoko's journey to Tema seems even more difficult against the background of an uncomfortable tradition in relation to Tema clubs over the past decade.
From the days of Ghapoha and Afienya United to encounters against Power FC, Kotoko returned from the port city with heads lower than they were when they entered.
Memories of the goalless draw with Ghapoha in their last game in the 1996 league championship which enabled Ashantigold (then Goldfields)to snatch the title a second time in their three straight successes only confirm Kotoko's miserable experiences in Tema.
But against the backdrop of last Sunday's defeat,the atmosphere in the Kotoko camp suggests nothing than non-negotiable victory tomorrow if,for nothing at all,to keep their title aspirations alive.
The situation only piles pressure on stand-in coach,Abdul Karim Zito,whose status was almost forgotten until last Sunday's ill-fate.
Indeed,his investment in former international, Nii Odartey Lamptey, was meaningless against Sportive last Sunday, while the efforts of Kenneth Ababio,Issah Ahmed,Aziz Ansah and goalkeeper Habib Mohammed proved too little against the determination of goalscorers Mark Amofa and Esme Mends and goalkeeper Laud Quartey.
It is the mood in both camps after last Sunday's game that will provide clues for tomorrow's game,for which a special rate of ¢30,000 will be charged at the gates.
It is similarly a tricky assignment for Hearts as they travel to Swedru to play Feyenoord.Like Kotoko,Hearts are faced by the threat of the youthful Feyenoord whose two-year stay in the premiership has seen everything except victories against the big guns.
Hearts take the challenge with some hope brought on by the fiery line-up of strikers George Eranio,Issah Mohammed, Prince Tagoe,Lawrence Adjei and Bernard Dong Bortey and will pray that their defence will open fewer chances for their opponents than it had done in previous games.
In other matches,Hasaacas host Hotspurs in Sekondi, while Faisal seek revenge against Power in Kumasi.RTU welcome Bofoakwa to Tamale conscious of the 4-0 drubbing the visitors handed them last Sunday, while Lions visit Berekum to defend their 3-2 victory against Arsenals.
Okwawu United appear to be in deeper trouble at Obuasi against Ashantigold, while Dwarfs dare Liberty in Accra.