Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao returns with his column and today, he focuses on Asante Kotoko’s problems in Week 12 of the Ghana Premier League, Jose Mourinho’s wonderful number on Antonio Conte and Chelsea in the Premier League, and James Harden’s big show against Russell Westbrook in the NBA Playoffs.
More of the same from Asante Kotoko
Last week, I wrote about Kotoko’s decision to fire Zdravko Logarusic and I concluded that all parties involved were to blame. They had to bounce back from the incident and they gave Godwin Ablordey the opportunity to lead the team albeit on an interim basis. But that did not happen.
Of course, Wa was always going to be a tough place to go but All Stars had not found their form this season and Kotoko could and should have found inspiration from what they had gone through in the last few weeks to get at least a point. They even missed a penalty in the second half.
Credit to Richard Ofori for the save but Kotoko need to get better in matches before it gets too late in the day. They are now 7 points behind WAFA who look like they are hell-bent on winning their home games and in the Ghana Premier League, that is very valuable for a title push.
The Sogakope-based team are displaying a lot of maturity in their matches especially on the road and the more they keep at it, they will put pressure on the chasing pack although I believe Aduana can give them a good chase. Mourinho brilliant, Herrera superb Every now and again, a team in the middle of a challenging season will find either a good result or a good result but on Sunday, Manchester United reached into their minds and souls to pull out a very good result and top-class performance.
The match, of course, was live on Citi 97.3 FM and my colleagues and I were at the AM and PM Sports Bar and the crowd was amazing.
On the pitch, Manchester United were in similar state. The decision to start with Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford left a lot of people (including me) bewildered. I was really afraid of a mauling at the hands of Chelsea and seeing the two young men in attack further sank my spirits.
But Mourinho understood the scenario and as the game wore on, I got it too. Lingard and Rashford worked well and Rashford on his own, caused problems for David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the Chelsea defence with his pace.
Quick legs won the day over experienced minds. But the lesson on the day was taught by Mourinho through Ander Herrera.
The Spaniard did one of the best man-marking jobs I have seen in a while and he kept Eden Hazard quiet. He followed the Belgian all day and it was the first question for Herrera in the mixed zone interview the BBC’s Match Of The Day: “Ander, I am surprised not to see Eden Hazard standing near you because you were not far from him all day.”
Mourinho deserves all the praise because he understood the Chelsea team and he was ready for them. The players need huge commendation too because they stuck to their roles and they were intelligent and diligent on the day.
Man United, of course, need to improve in the league and they need to to move upwards but they need to enjoy this win. I know I am enjoying it really well.
Playoff time is here and it is already very heated. Portland held the Golden State Warriors until the fourth quarter when Draymond Green’s defence was the offence the Dubs needed to pull away from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to win Game 1. Portland will make this tough for the Warriors and even if the Warriors make it through, the Western Conference is now so tough that winning the conference is not guaranteed.
The task is made tougher by the Houston Rockets who were great against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was a meeting of the two candidates for MVP- James Harden and Russell Westbrook- and the Beard emerged tops via a 118-87 win for the Rockets.
I said it a few weeks ago that Westbrook was carrying the Thunder and he did not have a good support cast to help him.
It showed on the stat sheet. Westbrook had 22 points, Andre Roberson had 18 while for the Rockets, Harden recorded 37 points and Patrick Beverley had 21 points. Simple maths shows an 18-point difference and it favoured the Rockets.
I believe this will show in the rest of the series. The Cavs are in a war against the Pacers while the Clippers need to find some more from their bench if they will go past the Jazz.
The Spurs looked good against the Grizzlies while the Bucks seemed to have rattled the Raptors. Hopefully, the Warriors should be in a good place when I return to this column next week. Have a great week, sports fans.
By: Nathan Quao