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Kotoko have tough matches in the 2016/17 season.


Tricky fixtures await Kotoko


Bernard Nyankomago Yeboah

Posted on: Tue Feb 14, 2017

Expectation will be high of Coach Zdravko Logarusic and his players when the league starts this weekend. It’s not because Kotoko are storming the season with an expatriate coach but because the team didn’t fare well last season and many are expecting that to change.

With no injury concerns and fine form of the players, Kotoko are expected to successfully win their first-round matches unlike last season where they struggled to maintain their form. The PLB released the 2016/17 league fixtures a fortnight ago. It followed with the official launch of the competition last week in Accra. Now all the teams are set for action.

A glance at the fixtures shows there would be exciting times. As to whether Wa All Stars will retain their crown or Kotoko would be back as champions would be determined by time. The Porcupines will set the ball rolling with a crucial home game against Liberty Professionals.

Kotoko last season begun their journey at Sogakope against WAFA but this time they are starting at home. The Porcupines beat Liberty 3-1 at the same venue last season. Liberty caused a stir and took the lead in two minutes but Kotoko showed bravery to win 3-1.

How will both teams fare this time? Kotoko is on record to have lost their league openers in the last two seasons. In 2014/15 they lost against Aduana Stars (0-1) at Dormaa. Last season they suffered a 0-2 defeat to WAFA at Sogakope.

It followed with a 2-2 draw against Medeama; 0-0 draw against Ashgold; 0-2 loss against Berekum Chelsea and 1-0 win against Hasaacas. That was one win; two draws and two losses. It was five out of 15 points. How will Kotoko perform this season in their first five matches against Liberty, Chelsea, Bechem United, Ashgold and debutants Elmina Sharks?

Kotoko in 2007/08 sensationally won their first matches to make it 15 out of 15 points. They bettered this record in 2013/14 by winning six matches in a roll. That was 18 out of 18 points. The good lead Kotoko took in both seasons helped them to easily win the league.

If Zdravko and his boys can emulate those records, it will be helpful to their quest for a title triumph. After the first five matches, the next five will be in this order: Bolga Stars (away), WAFA (home), Hearts (away), Inter Allies (home) and Medeama (away). It looks challenging because Kotoko will travel away three times to Bolga, Accra and Tarkwa.

That will obviously require much effort and the team needs no reminder that, they would have to attach loads of seriousness and professionalism to their call to perform. The last five matches of the first round would see the Kotoko hosting Dwarfs before trekking to Wa to engage Wa All Stars. Then Aduana Stars (home), Great Olympics (away) and Tema Youth (home) will come in that sequence.

Kotoko have three home matches and two away in the last five matches. How they finish these matches will be crucial to their progress in the second round. There are 45 points to fight for in the first round. Last season the team got 26 out of the 45 points. It wasn’t an impressive show. There must be improvement this season.

The home matches are important. If Kotoko can’t claim maximum points away, it shouldn’t be Kumasi. Last season, the team played eight matches in the first round in Kumasi. They won five, drew two and lost one to Edubiase. Kotoko could have easily avoided the defeat to Edubiase coming from two straight wins against Liberty and Dreams FC. Home defeats shouldn’t repeat itself this season.

In summary Kotoko had 17 out of 24 points in Kumasi; scored 14 goals and conceded six goals last season. They played seven away matches in the first round – won three and lost four. It was nine out of 21 points. The team scored three goals away and conceded six. In all they scored 17 goals in the first round and conceded 12.  There is the absolute need to remain firm and tight this season because the opponents will be hard nuts to crack.

 

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