There was no good start for Asante Kotoko in the Caf Confederation Cup group stage as they fell to a 1-0 away defeat to Al Hilal of Sudan on Sunday.
Waleed Bakhet Hamid's first-half strike proved the separating factor in the Group C fixture in Omdurman as it won all three points for the North Africans.
Below are some observations from the fixture:
Away duels not always going to favour Kotoko
Following a 0-0 away draw with Kariobangi Sharks of Kenya in the first round and a 3-2 away triumph over Coton Sport Garoua of Cameroon in the playoff round, it looks as though Kotoko are the team for the away duels and would love playing on the road than in front of their fans. Sunday's result, however, provided a reality check that away games are not always going to end with joy and excitement.
Ganiyu-Badu must sit up
A lot Kotoko's goals conceded so far in the competition were due to central defensive errors. Sunday's was no exception. After a free-kick was floated into the box, Idris Mbombo rose higher to knock the ball down and Waleed Bakhet Hamid also reacted faster than his marker to push the ball into the net. This was clearly an avoidable goal and it, in the general scheme of things, summed up the performance of the central defensive pair of Abdul Ganiyu and Agyemang Badu on the day.
'Conte' and Senanu proving to be the real deal
While the central defence continues to shake, the midfield duo of Kwame 'Conte' Bonsu and Richard Senanu continue to impress. On Sunday, they were among Kotoko's few shining lights, the others being mainly captain Amos Frimpong and goalkeeper Felix Annan. Having once played in the Swedish topflight, 'Conte' is really bringing his top experience to bear.
Struggling Songne Yacouba needs help
It was yet another game of struggle for the man who was seen as Kotoko's live wire before the start of the competition. Sickness and some time in the treatment room just before kickoff has rendered the Burkinabe bereft of firepower and bite. His performance on Sunday was another indication of his unreadiness for Africa this season, likely due to a lack of match fitness. A first goal could rekindle his one-time scoring prowess.
Akonnor needs an attacking Plan B
Kotoko's attack was at perhaps its worst state so far on Sunday. While Yacouba struggled, the supporting cast of Maxwell Baakoh, Emmanuel Gyamfi and Abdul Fatawu, who usually take up responsibility, failed to show up in Sudan. It was their poorest display in Africa this season. Without a doubt, the showing was a sign to coach CK Akonnor to begin fashioning out a Plan B as Kotoko cannot afford to be giving away points simply because the quartet is not in the mood.