THE Baba Yara Stadium and Kumasi city, erupted into spontaneous celebration yesterday, when Asante Kotoko came from a 3-0 down aggregate to defeat the Dolphins of Nigeria, 4-3 in the second leg Confederation Cup to advance to the next stage of the competition.
A fortnight ago, Kotoko were beaten 2-0 in the first leg in Nigeria and the match which was scheduled for last Sunday, was rained off when Kotoko were leading by a lone goal.
The sweet victory was due to coach Bashiru Hayford introducing dribbling wizard, Stephen Oduro to replace Francis Akwaffo in the 59th minute.
He opened the floor for Eric Bekoe to plant the ball twice in the net in the 71st and 85th minutes.
Dolphins who play the second tier of club competition in Nigeria, were no pushovers as they made the assignment very tough for the Porcupine Warriors.
The visitors had the first goal through an own goal by Kotoko’s Prince Anokye in the 22nd minute. Anokye was heading a pass to goalkeeper Soulama Abdonulaye who misjudged and slipped, allowing the ball to dangle into the net.
The visitors at this stage packed their defence around Emma Godwin and Sumeila Suleiman and resorted to delay tactics.
Kotoko could not penetrate the blanket defence and when it came to aerial balls they were found wanting due to the fact that the visitors were tall. Goalkeeper Ejiogu Chijioke thwarted most of their efforts.
Nana Arhin Duah, playing a captain’s game was not at his best. He was replaced in the 26th minute with Kwabena Yaro.
Kotoko pushed hard stringing neat passes, with Francis Akwaffo combining effectively with Harrison Afful who had a field day.
In the 34th minute, Akwaffo fired a pile driver only for the ball to hit the woodwork.
Fans were on their feet yelling at the players. On the stroke of first half, Samuel Inkoom set the stadium agog with the needed equaliser.
But it was Kotoko that had the better side of it.
The visitors continued with their delay tactics feigning injury at the least clash with a player.
The Angolan referee, Antoms De Soussa Jose, had to book Joseph Eyimbe for such tactics during a corner kick in the 77th minute.
Ten minutes to end the half and still it was 3-3 aggregate, the fans could not sit, as they realised the odds were not in their favour when the visitors appeared much stronger.
The explosion that greeted Yaro’s winner in the 89th minute, was beyond description. Oduro took a pass from the midfield, found Bekoe who sent a pass to Nii Adjei who neatly laid it before Yaro to power the ball behind onrushing Keeper Chijioke. That was the winning goal.