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4 KEY DECISIONS ASHGOLD MUST TAKE TO SCALE BERKANE HURDLE

On Saturday evening at the Stade Municipal de Berkane,  Ashantigold will pitch their might against Renaissance Sportive de Berkane in the CAF Confederations Cup qualifier. The Miners face the Oranges having won the first leg at home with a goal difference. 

The Ghanaian side's last visit to Morocco ended in a 2-0 loss to FAR Rabat in 2007 in a Champions League duel. Ashgold will play their 16 tie against a North African club without new signings David Abagna and Kwadwo Amoako. The Miners have won 6 and lost 6 of the previous 15 played. 


RS Berkane, losing finalists at the last edition of the competition are without a win in their last 5 competitive games. Unimpressive, former FC Porto player Tarik Sektioui has replaced Mounir Jaouani as Head Coach. Losing the first leg tie by 2 goals to 3 represents a good opportunity for Tarik to write his name in the club's good books. 

In their quest to edge out RS Berkane, here are four (4) key decisions Ashgold's Brazilian manager must make on evidence of the first leg and previous games; 

REPLACE BOATENG 
A mainstay in the current set up,  Frank Boateng has won the trust of all the gaffers since the departure of veteran George Owu. In between the sticks, the 24 year old has kept 10 clean sheets in his last 18 games. However, in Berkane where the home side is likely to be on the attack during most parts of the game, Dabou's experienced gloves will be needed. Typical of clubs in the Northern parts of Africa, wing play and crosses, and set pieces  will be numerous and Dabou's height will be vital. Boateng was fazed by the atmosphere and got away with 3 elbows to the face of the Moroccans. Such indiscipline cannot be tolerated in the away fixture. Dabou who played during the club's 2016 failed continental Cup adventure has the long know-how to play under pressure. Lastly, he is the best to play in post when you leading by a goal since he has the dark armoury to get the minutes wasting. 

EXPLOIT OMAR NEMSAOUI'S BAN 
Omar has been the side's trusted right back but got suspended by CAF for bad behaviour during the second leg of the Confederations Cup final against Zamalek. Beginning his 4 match absence,  Ashantigold had a field day at the right side of the Berkane rear where 2 of the 3 goals came from in the first leg. With midfielder, Mohammed Farehane likely to keep his place as right back once again, Coach Da Rocha should play Emmanuel Owusu to steal the spaces behind.  Since his appointment in July, Da Rocha has sparingly seen the best of the winger due to an injury. Making a come back against Kotoko in the President's Cup, the 18 year old has the skill set to make an impact from the left. His desire to play his fellow Brazilian, Silva Aurelio must be curtailed. Silva finds spaces and is good on the ball but he looks more of an in field player than a wideman.His inclusion usually leaves the Eric Donkor to make attacking runs from defense. Owusu who managed 4 assists and 2 goals in his first 5 games has the speed and trickery to thrive on the flanks since you will need your left back to stay back in an away game.

SHORE LEFT SIDE OF DEFENSE
Leading by 2 goals in an explosive first half, 2 elementary mistakes saw Berkane equalise in the early minutes of the second half. These goals were conceded from the left side of their defense where Osei Agyemang and Eric Donkor played. The former players of Asante Kotoko are good in build up play and have some intelligence to their play but they lack pace when retreating. Agyemang who had a bad day in Obuasi due to an injury must play in central defence with the lack of personnel there. Donkor though can pave way for Roland Amouzou. The Togolese is diminutive is size but has an aggression and steel in his play.  His recovery outmuscles that of Donkor. Against the likes of El Helali and Arajaie who are good with the ball at their feet,  Amouzou's man marking must be harnessed with Agyemang and Mubarik dealing with Krouch and Laachir in the center in the absence of the injured Jean Makusu and the ineligible Patrick Kudu.

PARTNER SHAFIU AND AGYEKUM
In an away game, the best for approach would have been to play with 3 central midfielders as Da Rocha did in Obuasi. The trio of Anabila, McCarthy and Akaminko can tame any midfield on the continent. Against Berkane who started with 2 central midfielders in Obuasi and later switched to 3 with the introduction of Yechou, Mark Agyekum can play behind Shafiu Mumuni. Agyekum and Mumuni's pair ensured the success of now Kotoko Coach Kjetil Zachariassen at Ashgold. With his inclusion into the team after missing the first leg, I expect him to start. Agyekum scored the sole goal on Da Rocha's debut against Burkinabe side Rahimo FC in an international friendly and also starred in the duels against Akonangui in the previous round. Mumuni was a handful for Berkane's central pair of Dayo and Mokadem and the introduction of Agyekum will spell more doom. Agyekum has the ability to fall deep to defend which means Mumuni can stay much closer to the opponent's final third.


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