By Sammie Frimpong
That Kumasi Asante Kotoko have the most players – eight - in Ghana's squad for this month's African Nations Championships (CHAN) tournament is not in itself surprising.
Coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani's side has arguably been the best on the local scene in recent seasons, having won two successive domestic championships and - already racing some seven points ahead of the rest at the midway point of the current term - seem set to wrap up a third.
And that is where the CHAN comes in; exactly as what, though?
A timely boost? Or an unwanted distraction?
In truth, it could well be both.
The self-belief of the chosen octet - goalkeeper Isaac Amoako; Kwabena Adusei, Abeiku Ainooson (defenders); Michael Akuffo, Jordan Opoku, Richard Mpong and Yahaya Mohammed (midfielders); and forward Seidu Bancey - and that of the remainder of Kotoko's squad, by extension, could be increased significantly with success at the competition.
Without a doubt, the selection of so many players from the Reds' camp is a veritable testament to just how good Kotoko have been thus far. For a club that has all but made selling its most prized assets a policy lately, the exposure to be generated by these players at the CHAN could prove an effective bargaining chip should any offers come their way later in the year.
Still, Kotoko do have some reason for worry, don't they?
While their immediate title rivals would have nearly their entire squads rested till the resumption of the league calendar - the other three clubs in the top quarter of the league table are contributing a combined sum of only three players to the local Black Stars' cause - most of Kotoko's starters would be busy on national duty and presumably quite weary on their return to club action.
If not managed properly, the exhaustion could tell on what remains of the club's title defence campaign and, needless to say, that would not exactly be a good thing.
For now, though, the two-time African champions would do well to count their blessings. The quality in their well-knit side is starting to show through and might reflect as brightly on Ghana's fortunes at the CHAN as it did at last year's Wafu Cup. Only time would tell, though, whether or not that would be in the best interests of the club.