Ashgold Plan Revenge Against Morocco
Flamboyant Ashantigold glittered just on time to save the nation from a weekend of potential mourning following some heartbreaking away defeats by Kumasi Asante Kotoko and the Black Meteors.
The Miners, who are returning to Africa after a decade’s absence, were as fine as gold on Sunday as they completed a back-to-back victory over a hitherto sensational Renacimiento of Equatorial Guinea in a second leg CAF Champions League preliminary round tie at their favourite Len Clay Stadium to advance on a 2-0 aggregate.
Twenty hours earlier, fellow Champions League campaigners, Kotoko, had unfortunately crashed out 4-2 on penalties to Gambia’s Ports Authority at the National Stadium in Banjul.
Contrary to the wishes of Ghanaians, the Porcupine Warriors could not defend their 1-0 first leg advantage as they succumbed to the Gambian side by a similar margin, eventually throwing the game into the lottery of penalties.
Kotoko’s sad end, coming on the heels of a chaotic start, was in sharp contrast with last year’s campaign which saw them missing the semi-finals by a hair’s breadth.
That disaster, coupled with the Meteors’ humiliating 2-0 defeat to Burkina Faso in an Olympic Games first leg match in Ouagadougou three days earlier thickened the darkness forcing the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to seek FIFA’s intervention by way of protest against two unqualified Burkinabe players in a frantic bid to keep the Olympic dream on course.
With this in mind, Ashantigold went into last Sunday’s game with a mission and delivered on their promise to keep the nation’s image in Africa intact.
After satisfying the home fans with their cohesive and fluent play, all Ashantigold needed to make qualification double sure was a 30th minute strike from Alfred Arthur’s favourite left foot.
The rest of the game can be summarised as a shooting drill between skipper Lamine Nasir, Shaibu Yakubu and Sadick Adams on one hand, and Renacimiento goalkeeper, Sylvestre Ekolo, on the other, with skilful Alhaji Sani as the chief architect.
Waxing lyrical as usual after the game, Coach David Duncan hinted that the upcoming one-sixteenth Champions League tie against FAR of Morocco would be a fine opportunity for his team to avenge a 1997 Champions League final defeat to another Moroccan side, Raja Casablanca.
“Maybe this will be an opportune to pay them back,” he revealed. “The FAR game is a tough one because they have a lot of experience, but we have to be ready for every challenge. If you want to be crowned the best, then you have to beat the best,” Coach Duncan stressed.
With the trophy as his ultimate target, Coach Duncan prefers to take one game at a time with an immediate task of preparing the players physically and psychologically for the task ahead.
Apparently overwhelmed by Ashantigold’s great form, former Kotoko coach, Abubakar Ouattara, who was on the Renacimiento bench was full of praise for the Ghanaian side.
“They are a good side and I see them going far in the competition,” he predicted.
An elated Chief Executive, Mr Kudjoe Fianoo, on his part assured that Ashantigold would clear the FAR hurdle no matter the challenge the pose.
“FAR have the name and we also have the men who are ready for any challenge. I know we’re going to play an experienced side which knows how to frustrate opponents at home and open up when necessary, but with what I have seen of my boys who can run for 90 minutes, we can make it,” he emphasised.
Ashantigold will play host to the Moroccans in the first leg at Obuasi on March 4.
Review by Samuel Ebo Kwaitoo
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