Asante Kotoko are brimming with confidence after their recent success at home against Nkana FC whom they defeated 3-0 last week in matchday four fixture of the Caf Confederation Cup group stage. The Ghanaian representatives will face another strong test on Sunday when they take on Sudanese side Al Hilal, who humbled the Porcupine Warriors 1-0 in the campaign's opener.
With just a point separating the two sides at the top of Group C (Hilal - 7, Kotoko -6), Sunday's match would no doubt be a cracker. The Porcupine Warriors, who are playing at home, want to move top of the group to smooth their part towards the quarterfinals. Hilal are hoping to realise a home and away triumph against Kotoko.
However, the outcome of the game could be affected by the result from the group's other match between Zambian rivals Nkana FC and Zesco United. With 6 points, Nkana are also a candidate for the group's top spot, and could leap to the summit if they see off Zesco challenge.
|Game||Asante Kotoko v Al Hilal|
|Date||Sunday, March 10|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Live Match Centre||TV Channel|
|Goal.com||GBC (Sports Plus)|
Squads & Team News
Kotoko have been boosted by the return of Emmanuel Gyamfi to fitness while captain Amos Frimpong is back from suspension. Midfielder Richard Senanu is expected to sit out Sunday's game despite training on Friday.
Possible Nkana starting XI : Annan, Frimpong, Sefah, Agyemang-Badu, Ganiyu, Bonsu, Gyamfi, Ganiyu, Yacouba, Safiu, Adams
Al Hilal have not reported any injury concerns ahead of the game.
Possible Kotoko starting XI : Jamal Salim, Mergheni, Ariwachuku, Boya, Abdullah, Diarra , Shigel, Shiboub, Mukhtar, Maranhao, Mbombo
Kotoko's scariest concern of the campaign seems to have been curbed, as exhibited in their previous game, against Nkana. The Ghanaians kept a clean sheet at home for the first time in the competition. The defence was re-adjusted and psyched up, and it paid off. The same strategy would likely be applied against Hilal, whose wingers are very fast. A real threat for coach Akonnor.
However, with the return from suspension of captain Amos Frimpong, Kotoko's coach would likely proceed with some slight adjustment. There have been opposing calls on Frimpong's situation. Some pundits want his return to the starting XI while others argue that the defenders from the game against Nkana should feature on Sunday, due to the good job they did.
The Porcupine Warriors' second problem is stamina. All their goals so far were scored in the first half, with the team struggling in the second stanza. The coach has admitted the fitness concern, which he blames on the absence of competitive football in the country since June last year, in the wake of corruption scandals. He has assured that plans are being carried out to amielorate their work rate. We hope it shows against Hilal, who could gracefully exploit it.
The visitors say they came to Kumasi to claim full points in order to strengthen their lead in the group. It wouldn't be as easy as said. Kotoko will fight as hard as they could to foil that ambition. In the reverse fixture, the Porcupines put up a commendable fight despite losing eventually. If they could repeat such performance at their backyard Hilal may not leave Kumasi the happier side.