Asante Kotoko climbed to the summit of the Ghana Premier League table albeit briefly in their Friday afternoon away clash against Karela United.
The home side was left heartbroken after their former player; William Opoku Mensah’s solitary strike denied them at least a point from the game.
Kotoko made the trip to the Tarkwa Akoon Park with contract rebel Sogne Yacouba restored to the match day squad. Coach Maxwell Konadu however preferred not to start the Burkinabe international. Once again club captain and first choice goalie Felix was resigned to the bench as the impressive Kwame Baah was preferred in between the sticks.
Karela United lined up with the usual key men Diawise Taylor, Emmanuel Keyekeh, Godfred Yeboah and Darlington Gyan Fosu all in the starting eleven.
It was the away side who got off to flying start. They took an early lead inside the opening 3 minutes after William Opoku Mensah fed on Emmanuel Gyamfi’s through pass inside the penalty box and made good use of the opportunity to slot the ball into the net.
The subsequent exchanges saw both teams threaten each other occasionally but nothing really serious came out of the few chances created.
Karela United, inside the 24th minute had an opportunity to restore parity although that too was wasted.
Former Asante Kotoko striker, Kwame Boateng fluffed a shot from inside the Kotoko penalty box leaving the away side’s lead intact.
In the 33rd minute Diawisie Taylor attempted an overhead kick on the edge of the opponent’s penalty box but Kwame Baah was alert and grabbed the ball.
Kotoko had the opportunity to double their lead in the 3th minute but a timely block denied Martin Antwi that opportunity of being the second goal scorer in the game.
The first half eventually ended with the home side in the lead.
The second half resumed with the home team pushing forward in search of an equalizer.
In the 54th minute Diawisie Taylor tried a shot from midway but his effort was too feeble to trouble Kwame Baah.
Maxwell Konadu decided to make some changes and brought on Mudasiru Salifu in place of Augustine Okrah. Mudasiru was returning to action for the first time since suffering an injury against Hearts of Oak in January.
The game’s tempo waned as the minutes progressed and inside the 71st minute, Maxwell Konadu made another change. Contract rebel, Sogne Yacouba made his first appearance since being frozen out by the coach since January came on for the goal scorer Opoku Mensah.
Yacouba nearly made an instant impact as just four minutes after being sent on, the Burkinabe received a pass from Mudasiru Salifu and hit a shot but his feeble attempt failed to worry the Karela goalkeeper.
Inside the last 10 minutes Diawisie Taylor had two opportunities to restore parity. In the 83rd minute the Karela attacker latched on to a loose ball and struck a shot towards goal with his outside foot, but an alert Kwame Baah averted the danger with a spectacular save.
In the 88th minute Taylor once again came close but hit the side net from close range.
The game eventually ended 1-0 in favor of Kotoko as they move top of the league table on 24 points one more than 2nd placed Aduana Stars who have a game in hand.
Karela with this result are still stuck in the relegation spots having accumulated a measly 10 points in their 13 matches played.
KARELA UNITED STARTLIST: Tijani Ahmed (gk), Samuel Frimpong, Nurudeen Abdulai, Godfred Yeboah (cpt), Emmanuel Keyekeh, Shaibu Iddrisu, Sadiq Alhassan, Samuel Ofori, Kwame Boateng, Darlington Gyanfosu, Diawisie Taylor
BENCH: Takyi Amoah, Isaac Hagan, Ofosu Abega, Yaw Acheampong, Prince Ofosu, Franklyn Osei, Harrison Kubi
ASANTE KOTOKO STARLIST: Kwame Baah (gk), Christopher Nettey, Emmanuel Agyeman Badu, Moro Ibrahim, Mohammed Habib, Justice Blay, Frimpong Kwame Adom, Martin Antwi, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Augustine Okrah, William Opoku Mensah
BENCH: Salifu Mudasiru, Mathew Anim Cudjoe, Felix Annan, Augustine Sefah, Ismail Ganiu, Yacouba Songné, Maxwell Baakoh
73′ Kwame Boateng OFF Harrison Kubi ON (KARELA UNITED)
71′ Yacouba Songné ON William Opoku Mensah OFF (ASANTE KOTOKO)
67′ Justice Blay (YC) (ASANTE KOTOKO)
67′ Ofosu Abega (YC) (KARELA UNITED)
60′ Samuel Ofori OFF Ofosu Abega ON (KARELA UNITED)
58′ Salifu Mudasiru ON Augustine Okrah OFF (ASANTE KOTOKO)
3′ William Opoku Mensah GOAL !!! Emmanuel Gyamfi ASSIST!!!
Emmanuel Keyekeh of Karela Utd FC won the MOTM Award.
— Ghana Premier League (@GhanaLeague) March 6, 2020