NC Special Competition Tier I Final: Karela Utd vs Kotoko – Diawisie & Fatawu Safiu set to face off in epic clash
While Karela United are in the hunt for their first ever ticket to represent Ghana in the continent’s flagship club competition, Kotoko are previous winners of the CAF Champions League.
Winner of Sunday’s grand finale game at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium will represent the West African powerhouse at next season’s CAF Champions League.
The Baba Yara Sports Stadium, Asokwa – Kumasi, is the venue for Sunday’s epic clash following a last-minute change from the Accra Sports Stadium Wa-based Abdul Latif Adaari appointed to be the centerman.
Venue: Baba Yara Sports Stadium – Asokwa (Kumasi)
Kick off: 15:00GMT
Referee: Latif Adaari
Channel: GTV Sports+
Online: GTV Sports+ on the StarTimes App
TV Host: Kwabena Yeboah
Both teams mounted spectacular semi-finals displays to reach the Tier I final, each winning narrowly.
Kotoko escaped with a 5-4 penalty shootouts win over arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak at the Accra Sports Stadium while Karela United strangled AshantiGold, thanks to a 94th minute supremely magisterial finish from Charles Diawisie Taylor at the Len Clay Stadium in Obuasi.
Kotoko were Ghana’s sole reps in Africa last season, playing in the CAF Confederation Cup and Charles Akonnor’s side are poised to scale this hurdle to play in the CAF first-tier club competition.
Karela have never tasted African football in the club’s fabulous history and a win on Sunday will surely down in the annals of Ghanaian football history.
Diawisie Taylor, 19, feels his goal king race lead is under threat from Kotoko’s Abdul Safiu Fatawu who is a goal shy of his 10 and is determined to do everything possible to score against the Porcupine Warriors before the teeming red army fans.
“[Yes, I know he’s on my tail] but I seriously need to win the top scorer award so I would do whatever it takes to score on Sunday,” he told Ncspecialcompetition.com.
Diawisie was born in Dormaa Ahenkro – the base of Aduana Stars but grew up in Berekum where he led Berekum Presbyterian Senior High School to win the Zonal competition in 2014.
And, he has not looked back ever since, featuring for Gold Stars under Johnson Smith before his switch to Karela under the influence of the trainer.
Kotoko’s defence has conceded the least number of goals in the Tier I competition and are renowned with the presence of Abdul Ismail Ganiu, Amos Frimpong, Wahab Adams and the promising Evans Owusu whose meteoric edge has surprised many. Few strike forces have been able to penetrate their defence but Diawisie is working out a scheme to put them to the sword.
“[I agree that they have a strong defence] but I am working on my possible best to score against them because like I said I really need to win this award,” his face beams with confidence as he talks.
Kotoko were hoping to reach the final of both Tier I and II but they watched their dreams evaporate into the thin air as AshantiGold hammered them 3-1 in the Tier II semi-finals at the Accra Sports Stadium in midweek.
Charles Akonnor admitted the Miners were superior to his side.
If Wednesday’s performance is anything to go by it means the Porcupine Warriors must bolster their performance to triumph over the Passioners.
Team News – Asante Kotoko
Kotoko are still without duo Maxwell Baakoh and Richard Senanu who are nursing various degrees of injuries. The Porcupine Warriors reported during the week that Senanu has been refused a German visa. The combative defensive midfielder was slated for surgery but would now have to reapply for the visa.
Winger Martin Antwi is also missing due to injury.
Burkina Faso marksman Songne Yacouba has returned to since a fortnight ago but has not started any of Kotoko’s last two semi-final games.
Danlad Ibrahim suffered an injury against AshantiGold and would have to pass a late fitness test to face Karela.
Team News – Karela United
The Passioners have no injury concerns and this means coach Johnson Smith will be afforded the opportunity to select his best to face Kotoko.
Solomon Sarfo Taylor, Diawisie Taylor, Emmanuel Keyekeh, Emmanuel Osei Baffour, Patrick Yeboah, Godfred Yeboah, Isaac Kwain and Isaac Hagan are all available for selection.
NCSC Opta Stats
Karela United star-man Charles Diawisie Taylor is the leading scorer in Tier I with 10 goals with Kotoko’s Abdul Safiu Fatawu just a goal shy of his numbers.
Diawisie Taylor, 7, has scored more away goals than any player in the competition. The Dormaa Ahenkro-born scored a 94th-minute winner to stun AshantiGold at the Len Clay Stadium in the semi-finals.
Asante Kotoko’s Danlad Ibrahim, 16, would be the youngest player on the pitch if he plays on Sunday.
Kotoko have lost just twice in the Tier I – both slim 1-0 losses to Medeama and AshantiGold. No team has been able to prevent Kotoko from victory apart from Bechem United. Only the Hunters have managed to score a goal against Charles Akonnor’s Porcupine Warriors side.
Aduana Stars, AshantiGold, Berekum Chelsea, Eleven Wonders and Medeama have all tasted defeats at the Baba Yara Stadium.