Kotoko’s away invincibility to face Karela’s test

Six matches, five goals, two wins, four draws, four different goal scorers!

From Berekum to Dawu, Tarkwa to Cape Coast, Sogakope to Obuasi; Asante Kotoko have navigated these cities, leaving unscratched.

There have been some, in honesty, where the outcome felt like a defeat from a Porcupine perspective, there have been others, satisfactory.

When Emmanuel Clottey drove home an added time free-kick beyond the reach of Kwame Baah in Kotoko’s second game of the season in Berekum to draw parity, heads and shoulders dropped.

Then head coach, Maxwell Konadu would confess not ‘knowing what happened to the referee’ in reference to the free-kick he awarded that denied his team maximum points.

Then, there was that near-win at the Akoon Park against Medeama SC. These are venues aficionados of the Porcupines saw as difficult grounds to pick even a point, but the story has been different this season.

The season began on a terrible note, with the team still struggling to find its title candidacy feat. With nine new signings, coupled with the wave of optimism following the arrival of Nana Yaw Amponsah as the club’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

However, so-so performances saw him axe Maxwell Konadu on December 17, handing the technical leadership to Johnson Smith.

Since taking over, Smith has won two games on the road, against Dreams FC and Ebusua Dwarfs, and drawing the others against Medeama, WAFA and AshGold.

Smith seems to have created an invincible spirit within the team on road, but they travel Aiyinase to face an improved Karela who has exorcised the ghost of the truncated season challenges to sit atop the league table.

Kotoko’s interim coach knows Aiyinase very well, Smith also knows Karela very well. He promoted them to the Premier League, oversaw them hand Asante Kotoko 3-1 defeat in their debut campaign courtesy of goals from Ibrahim Imoro, Abdul Ganiu and Maxwell Baakoh.

Smith led this team to reach the final of the NC Special Competition, losing via penalty shoot out to CK Akonnor’s Porcupines.

These boys and Smith all joined Kotoko, returned to the venue less than a year later and inflicted them with a 1-0 loss. The victory could be attributed to the struggles of the club following the demise of bankroller, Senator Brigidi, but this is a different season.

It is different because Karela have won all six of their home matches, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three. 18 points out of 18, a success enough to send a signal of home invincibility, but they are home to a team, that has a knack of robbing opponents off wins at home this season, too.

A team that has 10 points on the road, a success only bettered by Ebusua Dwarfs. A team that in two visits to Aiyinase can boast of conceding three and scoring two.

There is no gulf in quality. Honours are even, and Kotoko could be seeking to deny Karela victory at home for the first time this season, but this task is as arduous as cliff-walking.

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