Johannes Van der Pluijm, Head Coach of Berekum Chelsea admits that expectations are high of them in Sunday's epic Orange CAF Champions League clash with Egyptian giants Al-Ahly in Accra. The Ghanaian representatives need nothing short of victory to boost their chances in Group B which has Zamalek (Egypt) and TP Mazembe (DR Congo) as the other teams. Below are details from the interview the Dutchman had with Cafonline.com ahead of the Day Four encounter;
How are you bracing up for the challenge of facing Ahly on Sunday?
We are working very hard for this game. This match is very crucial because we have to win and at the same time play very well. We made some mistakes, which has to do with communication in the defence, in the reverse fixture in Cairo and have been working on it. If they communicate well this time, there should be no problems.
How will you be coping with the absence of lateral defenders, Richard Kissi Boateng and Eric Agyemang through suspension?
Whenever one player is out, another gets the chance. We have to give other players the opportunity to play. In that case, the players must prove that they can do the job for us.
Emmanuel Clottey and Ernest Sowah travelled with the Black Stars to China for an international friendly last Wednesday. What do you make of their brief absence to your preparations?
China is a long trip and they need to rest for at least a day before the game. The most important thing is that they are healthy and are coming back with no injuries. Also, another positive element is that they will be available for the game and have the confidence to play.
How will you be approaching the game?
To win a game, you have to score goals. It also means that you have to be well organised at the defence, whenever you want to attack. Against a team like Ahly, if you want to attack with a bad defence, you could be punished because there have so much quality and experience in their team. Also, we have to play a compact game and get behind the ball after losing possession.
Are you worried about the fact that Clottey is the only player in your team who can score?
On one side, it's very disturbing and on otherhand, it's good news because you have a player who can score. On Sunday, we are hoping to have other players on the scoring board. If you are dependent on one player it can be very difficult sometimes. We now have Bismark Idan (who returned to the club after a stint in Turkey), but he has not played competitively since re-joining the team. He is a potential scorer and I think he can help the team's cause.
What are your remarks about the Ahly team?
Ahly have an experienced team. In Mohamed Aboutreika, they have a great player. He (Aboutreika) doesn't move too much in a game, and is always at the right place at the right time. Also, Walid Suleiman on the left wing is also talented. Another strongpoint is their ability to capitalise on the lapses by their opponents. They also have more than three players with scoring abilities.
Are you under some form of pressure to deliver?
Expectations are very high because everyone expects victory, and that is a good signal. Everybody is also rallying behind the team. When the support is huge, it strengthens the players and brings out the best in them.