In his weekly column, Hindsight, Joy Sports' Victor Atsu Tamakloe looks back on Dreams FC's inspiring performance against Zamalek and Aboubakar Ouattara's latest "discovery" at Hearts of Oak. There is also room for Haruna Iddrisu's Karela United project and their early setbacks.

Dream on, Dreams

Dreams FC's fairytale run in the CAF Confederation Cup continues following a goalless draw in the first leg of the semi-final contest with Zamalek.

The consensus before the game was that Dreams needed to play for a decent result, limit the damage if possible.

Somehow, Dreams managed to block out the "noise". When I visited the team's training grounds last week, the optimism in the atmosphere was unmistakable.

Dreams looked composed in the warm-up today

When I interviewed coach Abdul Karim Zito for Joy Sports, he said that "it's difficult but not impossible. Sometimes your attitude in the game will also help you."

"We're playing this game with a good mentality. We know we're underdogs but (we will prove that) when we face you, we can equally match you," he concluded.

John Antwi, who has scored five goals and assisted twice in the competition, was sure of a good result.

"It's not going to be an easy encounter. But then like I said, I believe in the boys, the hard work, everything we've put into this game and I know God willing we're going to come out with a positive result," he said.

His confidence was understandable. Egypt is where he made his name. With over 100 goals, John Antwi is the highest scoring foreigner in Egyptian football. Had he won a continental title or two, Antwi would no doubt be the greatest import to Egypt.

One man who is not short of continental silverware is the club's goalkeepers' trainer, and former Hearts of Oak short stopper, Saanie Mohammed. Having won the inaugural competition in 2005, Saanie knows all about the pressures of the competition.

Saanie's critics will never forgive him for ducking out of the World Cup Qualifier against South Africa in 2005. Legend has it that he panicked and feigned sickness.

True or not, Saanie has had to live with the accusation that he is prone to stage fright, for the past twenty years.

Where Saanie failed is where Dreams are gaining. His hands-on coaching has helped Solomon Agbasi to play with more authority.

It has not been an over night change but today's performance - particularly that save in the 69th minute - shows Agbasi is coming along nicely.

The tie is still delicately poised but today's draw is still remarkable in many respects.

Until today, only one Ghanaian club had emerged from a contest with Zamalek at the Cairo International Stadium, unscathed. 

Kotoko failed to win in any of their two visits to Zamalek; 7-6 loss on penalties in the Champions League final in 1993.

Kotoko's line-up on the day. Standing Row (L-R); Edward Agyman Duah 'Rambo', Akakpo Patron, Anthony Osei Kwadwo, Mahmoud Ahmed, 'King' George Arthur, Emmanuel AmpeahChairman'

Squatting: Frank Amankwah, Koft Owusu, Yaw Owusu, Alex Nyarko, Joe 'Kwata' Okyere.

For context, this was a special team that had won the league three times on the bounce. Three members of that team; Emmanuel Ampeah, Methods Frimpong Manso and James Kwasi Appiah were part of Ghana's AFCON team in 1992 who finished as losing finalists to Cote d'Ivoire.

The other result was a 2-0 loss at the quarter final stage six years earlier. Beyond this, Kotoko have only drawn once in four trips to the venue to face Al Ahly - same as Hearts of Oak, who have also only managed a draw in three visits to Al Ahly.

In 1997, Zamalek beat Obuasi Goldfields 2-0 in a group stage match. Led by the Champions League topscorer (7 goals) Noutsoudje Kossi, Agyemang Duah etc, Goldfields had won the Ghana Premier League for three consecutive seasons. Even they could only manage a draw.

Yet, in their rookie season, Dreams have survived there.

We may well be witnessing the making of Ghana's next trusted team right before our eyes.

Hearts' demons confront Ouattara

Saturday's defeat to Legon Cities - Hearts of Oak's fourth in five games - gave Aboubakar Ouattara another revelation of the extent of work needed to be done.

The Phobians conceded two avoidable second half goals in a rather meek performance. If you count Richard Attah's comical attempt to save both goals as errors, Hearts have now conceded six goals directly from goalkeeping errors this season.

Ouattara was forced to explain himself to the fans after Saturday's defeat

Curiously, Richard Attah, the former number one who got reinstated ostensibly to stop the leakage, has committed two errors. That is one fewer than Richmond Ayi, the goalkeeper he replaced.

Hearts signed three new goalkeepers; Sharif Shuaib, Kwesi Nketsiah and Kwadwo Bonsu in January. In his debut against Gold Stars, Shuaib spilled the ball, leading to the only goal of the game.

Ouattara has to choose between two error prone goalkeepers who have failed to manage a consistent season in more than five years at the club. Richard Attah, the better of the two goalkeepers has the weight of a sumo wrestler and next to no agility. Or one of three out of rhythm goalkeepers.

The Ivorian must be wondering how Attah was allowed to become this overweight without consequences -or how none of the five of the goalkeepers at the club is actually good at goalkeeping.

As he told the fans in that post-match confrontation, he has no choice than to work with substandard players he did not recruit. It will be interesting to see what the club’s reaction will be when he asks for a new goalkeeper in July. Will they open the cheque book again?

Slow start for Haruna Iddrisu's Karela project

In December 2022, Member of Parliament for the Tamale Central constituency, Haruna Iddrisu acquired a controlling stake in Karela United.

Elloeny Amande, one of the country's brightest football executives and Chief Executive Officer of the club, was instrumental in the take over. He drafted the long term plan and what the club has described as its "International Business Development Strategy."

Once an excellent broadcaster, the legal practitioner turned football executive has been tasked to give meaning to the new Karela project

While Karela has enjoyed topflight stability, it is far from a self-sustaining club. It is still heavily reliant on the deep pockets of its owners. In order for this to change, a number of modules have been considered. Ultimately, the club has settled on recruiting elite talents with high resale value. It is a module practiced by the country's best run institutions; Accra Lions, Right to Dream Academy, and the West African Football Academy.

Led by Elloeny Amande, the club has looked at realistic markets and which profile of players they spend money on. This will shape where Karela invests in recruitment and the profile of players they will attempt to produce.
The long term plan is to build a world class academy in the Northern Region, once these processes are completed.

In the mean time, Dr. Baba Addams who oversees the day-to-day running of the club, needs to act fast. Saturday's 1-1 draw with Accra Lions means Karela have now won only one of their last five league matches. In that time, they have conceded nine goals and have scored six times.

Even before their rivals in the relegation scrap played, Karela were 16th on the 18-team league table with 31 points.

Karela's next match is away to two-time league winners and the current third placed team in the league, Aduana Stars. Aduana are also the second best performing team at home, having won twelve of their fourteen matches, scoring twenty seven goals and letting in just nine.

Karela players warm up at the Naa Sheriga Sports Stadium

In all, Karela's next opponent has amassed 36 points out of a possible 42.

After that, they take on title contenders Nations FC, before traveling to Bechem United, who have picked four more points (27) at home than Karela have managed to do all season.
Nsoatreman United is perhaps the most winnable game before facing record-breaking Dreams FC.

Difficult to navigate, yes, but it is exactly in this period that the club's Premier League status will be determined. There will be only three games remaining, after negotiating the aforementioned tricky three. And if the club is still in the drop zone by then, there will be no time to recover.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.