• The highs and Lows of the trip
• Mixed feelings for Krobea fans
Attempting to analyze Asante Kotoko’s pre-season in East Africa will be a mammoth task. New season approaching, new head coach, new signings, huge departures, interesting pre-season fixtures on paper in Sudan, and perennial expectations from the super fabulous fans but deja vu against Class B giants of African football.
Four games played: 3 defeats, 1 draw,3 goals scored, and 12 conceded. How do you explain this? It’s pre-season after all but a bit disheartening and mixed feelings for the fans.
Highs of the preseason
Al Hilal recognizing Asante Kotoko S.C as one of the top teams on the continent was refreshing news for the club. CEO Nana Yaw Amponsah received a plaque on behalf of the club from the administration of Al Hilal in recognition of Asante Kotoko’s Contribution to the development of football in Africa.
Burkinabè trainer, Seydou Zerbou was announced as the new head Coach for the upcoming season on 21st August after the departure of Prosper Ogum and got the opportunity to know his boys in Sudan. It is very positive that the new head coach led the team in the pre-season.
Another positive news about the preseason was the inclusion of new signings like Serge Eric Zeze, the former Asec Mimosas playmaker who joined the team for free on a three-year deal, and Steven Mukwala who ended the 2020/21 Uganda Premier League season as the top scorer for Uganda Rivers Authority (URA FC) after scoring 14 goals in 24 matches, Moise Pouaty, the former Union Sportive of Douala shot-stopper, 20-year-old former WAFA defender John Tedeku, free agent Ernest Osei Poku, Rocky Dwamena of T. I Amass and Enock Morrison who joined Kotoko from City rivals King Faisal were all part of the pre-season team.
Players like Dickson Afoakwa (scored in the 1-1 draw), Stephen Amankona (scored in the 4-2 defeat), and Stephen Mukwala (scored in the 4-2 defeat) confidences’ will be boosted ahead of the new season.
Asante Kotoko getting a high profile friendlies against Champions League and Confederation Cup opponents were spectacular. The head coach, the board, and the supporters now know the strength and the level of the team and what to do to improve it ahead of the new season.
It is quite unfortunate that new head coach Seydou Zerbou didn’t get the opportunity to work with the scintillating Cameroonian duo of Franck Mbella Thierry Etouga and George Mfegue in the pre-season. The duo contributed 29 goals in their debut season in the Ghana Premier League. The 22 traveling contingents to Sudan excluded the likes of Charles Owusu, Patrick Kojo Asmah, Samuel Boateng, and Agyemang Maxwell. The said players were injured and recovering from injuries and were therefore being monitored by the team’s medical team.
The results in the 4 games were not encouraging and it rubber-stamped how once the most fearful side on the continent has fallen and still falling freely. It was preseason friendlies but any team that loses three games (2-0 v Al-Hilal Omdurman, 5-0 v Al-Hilal Omdurman, 4-2 v Simba) and draws 1 (1-1 v Al-Hilal Khartoum) has a lot of work to accomplish if they want to make amends in the CAF Champions League.
The 2022/23 season is just around the corner, the team will compete in three competitions and must prepare adequately.
The two-legged semi-finals CAF Champions League qualification fixture against Burkinabe champions Kadiogo is the biggest on the team’s agenda at the moment. The first leg is in Cote d’Ivoire on 10th September with the return leg in Kumasi a week later, 17th September.
By AMAKYE ANSAH