Kotoko edged their way past the Zone A of the Normalisation Committee Special Competition Tier-One Cup by finishing second. Now the biggest test yet awaits, a semi-final clash away to sworn rivals Hearts of Oak on Sunday.
Charles Kwablan Akonnor admits it is going to be tough, but is confident his side has prepared well enough during their preparations to snatch the ticket to the title match.
Kotoko arrived in Accra on Saturday after a 5-day training camp in Asante Mampong, and tells Kotoko Express App the lads have responded positively to the tactical drills and also showed good countenances ahead of the duel.
“I know it’s going to be tough, and I admit that it is the toughest game yet in the competition, knowing the type of opponent and how important such matches are to the teams and the supporters across the divide,” says C. K. Akonnor.
“But for the past days, we have prepared well to face them. And I am very happy because the players are responding well to what we have been taking them through.”
“One other good also is that the players are calm and not under pressure. It is a tough game, no doubt, but the players are relaxed and approaching it like it was a normal game. They are not feeling complacent, but are also not under pressure. They have a clear mind and that is good going into a game like this one.”
The game experienced a hiccup with Kotoko withdrawal due to the disapproval of the selection of match venue and the uneven disbursement of the gate proceeds.
The team rescinded the decision on Tuesday, paving way for the organisers, media and the football fraternity to make bold statements that the game was coming on.
C. K. Akonnor, however, disclosed that his preparations for the game, whose eventual winner will compete in the CAF Champions League, have not been affected as ‘I knew that the game could come on.’
“No, it hasn’t,” insists C. K. Akonnor. “I knew it would come on and so kept on with my preparations. I used some of our Tier-Two games as tests. We have been taking it a match at a time, but, at the same time, been having Hearts of Oak at the back of our minds in our minds.”
One noticeable advantage is that Kotoko play better and are luckier in Accra than at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, and C. K. Akonnor is aware of it and prays that it continues on Sunday.
“I noticed it when we beat Inter Allies and the Black Meteors in our CAF Confederation Cup warm-up games in Accra. The players looked relaxed and played very well. I hope we get things right as we did in those games.”
“I want the supporters to come and fill the stadium,” says C. K. Akonnor in a clarion call to the fans. “We saw a pool of red during the Confederation Cup. That is what I yearn to see. I see a tough game, but then, we are also prepared to take on the challenge.”