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CAF Confederation Cup

What strategy should Kariobangi Sharks adopt against Asante Kotoko in Kumasi?

09:12 EAT 22/12/2018
Kariobagi Sharks v Asante Kotoko.
The Sharks will face a tall order when they take on the Porcupine Warriors in the return leg of Caf Confederation Cup in Kumasi

Odds are against Kenyan representatives Kariobangi Sharks when they face off with Asante Kotoko in the return leg of Caf Confederation Cup.

Unlike Kotoko, who boasts of both experience and massive resources, Sharks are making their debut in the continental stage. Comparing the two, despite the fact that Kotoko is starved of match fitness following the ban of the Ghanaian League - to say the least, is unfair.

First, Kotoko has been crowned Ghana Premier League champions a record 23 times - six more than Gor Mahia, and have won the Caf Champions League twice. On the other side, Sharks, who are in their third season in the Kenyan Premier League - have only two titles in their cabinet - the FKF Shield and the Super Cup.

But history aside, Sharks have proved, this season that they have the sharp teeth capable of bringing down any opponent. They beat Kenyan champions Gor Mahia in the Super Cup, knocked out Arta Solar of Djibouti in the preliminary round of this competition where they scored a massive nine goals and conceded only one. They then held Kotoko to a goalless draw in the first leg in Nairobi.

So what should coach William Muluya do to stop Kotoko in Kumasi?

First coach Muluya must tell his players not to be intimidated by the huge crowd expected to throng Baba Yara Stadium on Saturday. This, he must do considering that he's got a young squad that is prone to stage fright - all, but two of his players making their debut at the continental stage this year.

On the pitch, Muluya must protect the 0-0 home draw; this means that he must avoid conceding early. If the two teams’ performance at the Kasarani could be used to predict the outcome of Saturday’s tie, then Sharks stand a higher chance of progressing to the next stage.

Kotoko, even with all the resources at their disposal - pumped in by the club owner and patron, King Asantehene Osei Tutu II; the absolute Ruler of the Ashanti and Kingdom of Ashanti, they looked a bit lethargic in Nairobi. They never looked dangerous, but again, that could have been a strategy employed by coach Charles Akonnor.

Muluya will have to tighten his defense - Tom Teka, though only 20, will have to do much more than what is required of his age mates. But with the availability of Sydney Lokale, Muluya can depend on the bully striker upfront for goals with the assistance from Harrison Mwendwa's pace and the experience of Pattilah Omotto in the midfield to stop the Porcupine Warriors.

A 4-4-2 formation will take the pressure off the defenders with Omotto and Mwendwa falling back whenever they lose possession. Even though Gad Mathew kept a clean sheet against Sony Sugar, in a game like this, the experience could be the difference. For that reason, he must start with Brian Bwire between the sticks and maintain Teka in his defense. He must not gamble with the squad.