THE BIG ONE: Karela Seek Revenge, But Kotoko Are In No Mood To Slip Up
The fans have returned to the stadia, adrenaline is pumping, players are upping the ante, coaches are straining every nerve to outwit their opponents, media coverage has increased, and the season is grinding to an exhilarating crescendo — surely, this is as good as the Ghana Premier League gets, no?
Well, there is even more to come as the 2020/21 season enters its home stretch, especially with the captivating title race currently playing out at the top of the table, and one particular fixture in the upcoming mid-week round of games could drive up the stakes.
After a nail-biting victory against relegation-threatened Inter Allies last week — a result that sent them back level on points with archrivals and leaders Accra Hearts of Oak, behind only on goal difference — Asante Kotoko (2nd) host Karela United (3rd), with both teams keen to sustain their respective challenges.
Karela, already seven points behind, would find just a little extra value in winning at the Len Clay Stadium, as well as the added pleasure of exacting vengeance for the stunning defeat suffered to Kotoko in the reverse fixture earlier this season — the first, and still only, time they’ve lost at their Crosby Awuah Memorial Park fortress.
That double mission, though, wouldn’t be easy for Karela to carry out. Kotoko come into this league game unbeaten in their last eight — five won — and their recent home form provides little hope that Karela would get anything from Obuasi.
The historic mining town was the first destination Karela traveled to this season, where they secured a point against Ashanti Gold, and that experience should be inspiring enough.
Generally, too, their fortunes on the road have improved somewhat, having managed to draw three of their last four away games — never mind that they’ve only won a fourth of the dozen matches leading up to their meeting with Kotoko.
Patrick Asmah has slotted in seamlessly for Imoro Ibrahim at left-back in the last two games, and Kotoko head coach Mariano Barreto might have a slight headache in deciding who starts there, following Ibrahim’s return from a torrid Oriental tour with the national U-23 team.
Further up the pitch, Fabio Gama continues to be in scintillating form, while Barreto would hope that error-prone goalkeeper Razak Abalora — likely to start, as he has for much of the season — has one of his better days.
If he doesn’t, Karela’s attackers would seek to take advantage, in a bid not to lose further ground in the race, and especially if topscorer Diawisie Taylor is still missing from the matchday squad.
On its own or in the larger picture, this game offers a lot to look forward to.