Asante Kotoko and city rivals King Faisal haven’t contested many ‘Kumasi Derby’ games in the last decade, ever since the latter’s maiden relegation from the Ghanaian top-flight.
Even rarer in that period, though, have been top-of-the-table clashes between the two sides. And that’s because Faisal, once a fairly regular presence in the Premier League’s end-of-season ‘Top Four’ picture, have been reduced to a yo-yo club, one that you’re likely to find near the bottom of the log than at the more coveted end.
Thus far this season, however, Faisal are showing signs of a turnaround in fortunes, having won three of their first five games and losing just once. Only Kotoko, with four wins from five and still unbeaten, rank higher, and Faisal would fancy their chances of more than holding their own against their more illustrious neighbours when the two teams clash on Sunday.
But coach Nurudeen Amadu would have to do without Faisal’s topscorer this season, Osman Ibrahim, who is ruled out of action against his parent club, Kotoko, while opposite number Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum strives to find a way to work around the absence of suspended midfield conductor Richard Boadu.
It would be the first Kotoko-Faisal game in years hosted on the very field where they’ve done most of their battles, at the Baba Yara Stadium that both call home, after the pair was forced to relocate early last year for a renovation of the arena.
Since both returned this season, five of six home games have been won, with a Faisal draw with Medeama on the previous matchday proving the exception. The upcoming fixture would be Kotoko’s home game, though, and the Porcupine Warriors would look to get back to winning ways after last week’s draw away at Karela United.
Little separated them during last season’s meetings, with Kotoko winning the first and Faisal — then battling for survival, as they’ve done far too often in recent memory — securing a priceless draw in the reverse. Similar margins, narrow and tight, are to be expected come December 5.
Yaw Frimpong — Ink & Kicks