After a painful defeat to Sporting Club Casablanca in the semi-final of the 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League, Ghanaian champions, Ampem Darkoa shifted focus on the third-place match.
Ampem Darkoa and 2022 champions, AS FAR FC will trade tackles in the third-place match at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Korhogo on Saturday.
Both sides qualified from Group B in which the WAFU-B champions topped the log after a 2-1 stunning win over the Moroccans.
“Our target for tomorrow is to take the bronze. Nothing but the bronze,” Ampem Darkoa coach, Joyce Boatey-Agyei told journalists during her pre-match press conference in Korhogo on Friday.
“The team is very ready. Of course, that very night (vs SC Casablanca) they were down and disappointed but immediately after that, we went to sleep. When we woke up the next day, everything was behind us. We have corrected what we need to correct. Morale in camp is very high. The girls are poised for action tomorrow.
The third-place match is such a game that semi-finalists don’t want to play but the former coach of Supreme Ladies FC says her team are ready for the deciding third-place match.
She said” “When you get defeated during a semi-final and will have to play the third-place match, it is not easy and takes a lot to blend the players back to competition mood. We are ready as we have very young and talented players who want to make names for themselves. They are new and very young. We have been able to put their minds ready for the game to fight and make names for themselves. They are very ready.
“The semi-final match was energy-sapping. It will get into the players but we have done the needed recovery sessions for them both physically, mentally and psychologically but we have prepared them and psyched them a lot.”
Captain Ophelia Amponsah missed a penalty during the 3-2 loss on penalties in the semi-final, Boatey-Adjei expects her to bounce back from the disappointment and resume her leadership role in the third-place match on Saturday.
She continued: “Ophelia Amponsah is the team captain. She is expected to lead by example but some of these do happen in the game. When you realise that some things lies solely on you, it brings out some tension on you. It is normal. Even big stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi miss penalties. It is normal. She has to be ready and put everything behind her so that if it happens again that she has to take it, she must make amends. Honestly, she has always been taking our penalties and the last game was the only time she missed a penalty. I know that if she gets another chance, she is going to make things right.”
Ampem Darkoa has played three of their four games in the competition in San Pedro, Ivory Coast winning one and losing two including the semi final against SC Casablanca. The previous match played in Korhogo ended 3-1 against Huracanes (Equatorial Guinea) in the final group game.
The team will return to Korhogo for the third place match on Saturday
“Challenges had been observing the way players play because most of them are new talents and some lacked a bit of experience. When they need to shoot at goal or their decision making sometimes is not what is expected from them but we know that with some time of play, they are going to work on it. In terms of pitch and everything, the other challenge had been the fact that we have been moving from Korhogo to San Pedro to Korhogo and definitely being in the air for all these times. When you come back, it takes some energy from you. The technical team had to do a lot of psyching up and recuperation and work to put them in game situation. That has been our challenges otherwise everything is fine.
“The pitch in San Pedro is a little bit softer than that of Korhogo because I think the weather is a bit dry here (Korhogo) and the pitch is a little bit harder but it doesn’t mean it has affected us. After studying the pitches one should be able to know how to play on them to one’s advantage but they are very good fields.
“I want to commend the organisers of the tournament for a good work done. I think we have been happy so far so good. Keep it up. Thank you.” She concluded.
AS FAR FC have not finished the past two editions of the tournament without a podium finish. The team finised third in 2021 before winning the title in 2022. A win for Ampem Darkoa will end AS FAR FC’s podium run and records at the competition.