After series of disappointments in the last four years in Africa, there was joy for Asante Kotoko and their fans at the Babayara stadium on Saturday. The Fabulous team trembled but qualified after their 2-1 aggregate victory over Kariobangi Sharks of Kenya.
“We entered this game to qualify. It is true that our performance was not the best. The Kenyans took control of the game. We suffered in the middle of the park especially but the most important thing was the qualification” head coach C.K Akonnor said after the match.
The team of Akonnor won but the better side in terms of ball possession and performance were the Kenyans but again what matters was qualification to the next round of the Confederation Cup and Kotoko got that. In fact it would have been absolutely meaningless if the Porcupine Warriors had played the most beautiful football and still failed to qualify.
Fatawu Abdul Safiu opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a brilliant solo effort but the nightmare of Asante Kotoko quickly emerged ten minutes later when Sharks skipper Pathila Omotto – the conductor of their game – equalized with a long range effort that shook the top right corner of Felix Annan’s net.
The home side reacted well and pushed to restore their lead. It will be captain Amos Frimpong who would provide the liberation goal in the 35th minute from the spot after striker Songne Yacouba was brought down in the box by the Kenyan defender Thomas Teka.
This game saw everything. Harrison Mwendwa’s affair with the woodwork could have brought the game to 2-2 and Emmanuel Gyamfi was denied a penalty – replays showed it was a correct decision by referee Mashood Ssali whose superb first half performance started to deteriorate in the second period. The trio of Duke Abuya, Omotto and Nixon Omondi produced a performance of class but Jordan Opoku – the most experienced player on the Kotoko team failed to compete.
The Mwendwa-Amos Frimpong duel was one of the best parts of the game. It started in favor of the Kenyan petit winger who was all over the place but the Ghanaian full back bounced back to keep him well in check for the rest of the game as Kotoko held on to win 2-1.
It one looks at the current state of Ghana football, this is definitely a great achievement by the Porcupine Warriors – who obviously will have to raise their level if they are to go deeper in the competition.