A real buzz is expected at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Wednesday afternoon when regional rivals Asante Kotoko SC welcome Ashanti Gold SC in the first Ashanti derby of the GFA Normalization Committee’s Special Cup matchday 4.
The Porcupine Warriors have enjoyed a decent campaign so far, having lost just once in three games. They recovered from their painful loss to Medeama last Thursday with a resounding 3-0 win over Eleven Wonders at the Nkoronza Children’s Park, sending them to the top of Zone A with six points.
Coach C. K. Akonnor’s side must, however, will be looking to double their efforts as they face a big test in Ashgold. The Miners are unbeaten in the competition, winning one and drawing their last two games but Ashgold’s last visit to the Baba Yara Stadium ended in a stalemate in the JAK Cup.
However, the stakes are arguably higher for Akonnor’s Kotoko side, who faced serious criticism for their choice of tactics since they were bundled out of the Confederation Cup. Fans will be hoping for a much better performance against their regional rivals.
Ashgold trainer, Svetislav Tanasijevic have a case to also prove to justify that his side’s performance is not a nine-day wonder as they are yet to lose a game in the competition after three games played with 100 per cent clean sheet.
The Porcupines have made it clear that they want to win the Special Cup and get back to Africa. Wednesday’s game will test their resolve just as the other games have done. It will be no easy task yet Coach Akonnor has the men to execute the assignment for him and the teeming fans.
Ashanti Gold 5-3 Kotoko (First Capital Plus Premier League, 2015/16)
One of the most memorable clashes between the Ashanti rivals came in 2016, as both sides seemingly forgot how to defend and instead unleashed everything they had in attack. Both sides had led during the encounter, but defensive errors cost the Porcupines greatly.
Emmanuel Osei Baffour scored twice as Ashgold crawled back from 2-1 and 3-2 down to hand Kotoko a 5-3 defeat in the Adansi derby to secure their place in next season’s league.
Osei opened the scoring for the host on 15 minutes with a penalty but the lead lasted for only just two minutes as Kotoko restored parity. Donkor hit a fine strike past goalkeeper Fatau Dauda.
The Porcupine Warriors did not relent in their efforts after getting the equalizer, keeping the pressure on the Miners, while netting the second goal courtesy of a superb finish by Obed Owusu to end the first half.
Ashgold up the ante in the second half, pressing more which paid off when Shafiu Mumuni made it two all. But Kotoko restored their lead three minutes later with a penalty goal scored by captain Amos Frimpong much to the delight of Kotoko fans who made the short trip.
However, their celebrations were short-lived as Osei Baffour scored his second from the penalty spot.
Buoyed by the equalizer Dauda Mohammed increased the lead before Amos Addai sealed the victory with a fantastic goal.
Abdul Fatawu vs Richard Osei Agyemang
After his two great freekicks against his former side Eleven Wonders on Sunday, Fatawu looked electric, giving Ashgold a good idea of what to expect from him on Wednesday.
Fatawu will most likely line up opposite Ashgold’s Richard Osei Agyemang who is a former Kotoko player and will not have an easy task in subduing the inform Abdul Fatawu.
Osei Agyemang will once again have the responsibility of tracking Fatawu throughout the game, but Fatawu has tended to get the better of Osei Agyemang in the past.
James Akaminko and Appiah McCarthy’s pair in the midfield of the Miners have been superb compared to unpredictable C.K Akonnor’s pair in midfield in their last three games played. Kwame Bonsu’s return will be a morale booster for the Reds after missing the last two games.
Richard Ella Djodi scoring twice against Kotoko both in Kumasi and Obuasi will be a delight to watch as Emmanuel Gyamfi also can’t disappoint the Porcupine fraternity with his speed and skills.
Kotoko centre back, Wahab Adams has returned to the team following his shoulder dislocation on matchday one. With the likes of Douglas Owusu Ansah and Evans Owusu taking up responsibilities and somewhat living up to expectation, Kotoko will be energised to get a good result.
On the side of the visitors, experienced goalkeeper Robbert Dabuo and defender Amos Addai are likely to replace Frank Boateng and Kofi Nkrumah who picked up injuries in their weekend’s game against Aduana Stars in Dormaa.
The increasing confidence of Abdul Fatawu is something to look out for. A likely victory for Kotoko will take them four points clear of second-placed Ashgold whereas a win for the Miners will leave them one point above the Porcupines.
The two sides will be meeting for the 99th time since 1985, including league, cup matches and friendlies and Kotoko will be chasing their 48th win against the Miners’ 27 wins. The rest of the matches – 27 – of them have ended in draws.
The Porcupines will be looking to make a statement following all the criticism directed towards Akonnor and his players. He will have to decide whether they continue to take the risk of playing out from the back or change the tactics to help ease his side to a better chance of a result.
Asante Kotoko possible XI:
4-5-1: Felix Annan (GK), Abdul Ganiu, Amos Frimpong, Augustine Sefah, Evans Owusu, Agyeman Badu, Jordan Opoku, Prince Acquah, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Stephen Nyarko, Abdul Fatawu.
Ashanti Gold possible XI:
4-1-2-3: Robbert Dabuo (GK), Richard Osei Agyemang, Samed Ibrahim, Eric Donkor, Emmanuel Nti Mensah, James Akaminko, Appiah McCarthy, Richard Ella Djodi, Salia Ouattara, Amos Addai, Shafiu Mumuni.
A quick look back at the two sides’ previous meetings shows that Ash Gold have a slight upper hand in this fixture. The Miners have had three wins to Kotoko’s two in the last seven clashes, including a famous 5–3 thrashing Obuasi.
Last seven games head to head:
08/04/18, 17:00 :
Ashanti Gold 2-0 Asante Kotoko
Asante Kotoko 1-1 Ashanti Gold
27/02/17, 16:00 :
Ashanti Gold 0-1 Asante Kotoko
Ashanti Gold 5-3 Asante Kotoko
Asante Kotoko 0-0 A. Ashanti Gold
Asante Kotoko 1-0 Ashanti Gold
Ashanti Gold 2-1 Asante Kotoko.