KUMASI ASANTE Kotoko begin their quest for 2006 continental glory on Saturday, when they take on Royal Aigle D'chang of Cameroun, in a first leg tie in Cameroun.
The Ghanaian champions have made clear their intensions of adding to the two continental titles they have under their belt and are not taking this year's Africa Champions League lightly.
They departed Accra last Wednesday in high spirits of returning to Ghana with result and coach Emmanuel K. Afrani could not sound more confident.
“I am happy with the output of the players during this preparation period,” he said in a pre-departure interview and believed they would do well tomorrow in Cameroun.
The Porcupine Warriors have been in camp since they returned from their three-match tour of Tanzania, and will be going into this game determined not to lose.
Every member of the 19-member squad shared the opinion of their coach, saying the over six-week preparation had shaped them up very well for the encounter and they out to deliver.
They take on a Camerounian side that is not well-known in Ghana, but have been part of their domestic competitions for over 30 years. Royal Aigle D'chang have been in and out of African competitions.
Their battle readiness was summed up by Kotoko's Camerounian import, Betah Imbola Sanjie, who has warned his colleagues to expect a raw deal from his compatriots.
Sadly though, Sanjie has picked up injury and would not be playing in this match.
He would however hope fellow strikers, Nana Ahin-Duah, Ahmed Toure, Kwame Obeng Darko and Mark Adu Amofa, will do damage on his countrymen to make the return mach in Ghana a mere academic exercise.
Aigle D'chang will however be very inspired playing before their home fans, and the Kotoko defense, Aziz Ansah, Samuel Addo, Michael Asante, Shilla Illiasu and goalkeeper, Eric Nii Baah, will have to be battle ready for the job at hand.
The Camerounians can however not measure up to the experience of their Ghanaian guests, and Kotoko should play this in their favour to post a respectable result coming into the second leg at the Obuasi Len Clay stadium, in two weeks time.
They should be inspired by the qualification of fellow Ghanaian team, Hearts of Oak, to the next stage of the same competition, following the withdrawal of their Gambian counterparts, Wallidan F/C, citing financial constraints as reason.
It would surely be a tough affair for the Ghanaian champions, but they should be able to rise up to the challenge and put one foot forward into the next stage of the competition.