Aduana Stars will be facing a stern test on Wednesday against Algerian side ES Setif in the Caf Champions League.
After edging out Libyan club Al Tahaddy in the previous round of the competition, the Ogya Lads had their confidence level elevated, but would that be enough to stop Setif?
The Algerian team are two-time winners of the competition (1988 and 2014) and have been participating in several editions. They have more exposure and experience than the Ghanaians, who are reaching this stage for the first time.
Aduana enjoyed an overwhelming support from local fans in the game against the Libyans, which they are set to get, even more, on Wednesday. However, the return and decisive leg takes place away from home, with little or no support for Aduana.
Setif have a bigger stadium, the Stade 8 Mai 1945, which is a 25,000 seater. And they equally have diehard supporters. The general belief there is, however the deficit from an away encounter, Setif are capable of righting the wrongs at home.
Aduana need to plan how to disrupt that and force Setif to experience a bad day right in their own backyard, while safeguarding their spoils from the first game.
At Dormaa Ahenkro, the visitors’ main objective would be to register at least one away goal by exploiting holes that the hosts would leave behind in their push for a favourable situation up field.
If that ever happens, life would get more difficult for the Ghanaians, who could even concede more in their bid to absolve the deficit.
Setif did not lose any of their previous five matches in the Algerian Ligue 1, recording three wins and two draws and have moved to third place on the table, after a poor start to the campaign. They are in a brilliant form!
Could that be said of Aduana? The Ghana Premier League is yet to resume the new season due to legal issues, and thus, no competitive football on the local scene for the team.
Even when their coach and some local pundits refute suggestions that the league’s hiatus could affect Aduana’s performance in the continental competition, the logics seem to prove the contrary.
A team that play regularly are better off on the pitch.
Since their last Caf Champions League 6-0 aggregate win over Olympic Real de Bangui, Setif have played two league games, against Olympique Medea and CS Constantine, drawing the former goalless and winning the latter 1-0.
They appear game ready for anybody. However, if Aduana want to be counted among the big guns on the continent, time is now to pay the price.
Knocking out the Algerian team would not only bring money and fame, it would improve the standing of Ghanaian clubs in the competition.
Aduana need to ignore Setif’s pedigree and face them like they have got nothing to lose. That posture would reduce the pressure and help maintain the focus, which is to prevent the North Africans from scoring while making sure they convert their chances into the back net for a sizable lead ahead of the reverse fixture.