Asante Kotoko will face an uphill task overcoming Dansoman side, Liberty Professionals when the two sides clash today at the Accra Sports Stadium in a Ghana Premier League (GPL) week eight game.
Kotoko was axed from the CAF Champions League on Wednesday without kicking a ball when seven of their players reportedly tested positive for COVID -19, a situation which meant the ‘Porcupines Warriors’ were unable to raise a team; resulting in Sudanese side, Al- Hilal’s progress to the next stage.
Upon arrival at the Kotoka International Airport, four players and some officials of the team tested positive for the virus and have since been isolated and quarantined according to an official communique from the club.
It is unclear which players had contracted the virus and this presents a daunting challenge for interim coach Johnson Smith with the Porcupines struggling at their adopted home grounds at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Kotoko would need all their firepower to defeat a resurgent Liberty side that sit eighth on the league log with 10 points whiles Kotoko occupy the 12th position with nine points.
Fortunately for the Porcupines, despite the ‘Scientific Soccer lads’ recent run of two draws and a defeat on the road, they are yet to play at the Accra Sports Stadium this season.
This is where Kotoko may gain an advantage. After three games at home which has seen them with a win, defeat and a draw, their fraternizing with the new home grounds may be over.
Johnson Smith would be keen to continue his good run in the league since he assumed his interim role – winning away at Dreams and a 1-1 draw against Medeama in Tarkwa.
But his biggest task yet would be to improve Kotoko’s poor scoring form which has seen them score a goal per game in their last five encounters.
Recent games between the two sides have been feisty and closely fought, with the last four encounters recording a win for each side whilst the other two ended in stalemates.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO