USM Alger knock Kotoko out of CAF Champions league
Kumasi, May 30, GNA - There was weeping and gnashing of teeth at the Kumasi Sports Stadium on Sunday when USM Alger sent Kumasi Asante Kotoko tumbling out of the CAF Champions League on a 6-3 aggregate. Kotoko scored two goals during regulation time to bring the scores to two-all with USM winning the first leg encounter 2-0 in Algiers two weeks ago. Some of the teeming Kotoko supporters who filled the stadium to capacity were rooted to their seats at the end of the penalty shoot out finding it difficult to fathom why their idol club always let them down in crucial matches. Those who broke the hearts of Kotoko during the penalty shoot out were substitute Michael Ofosu-Appiah and petit Stephen Oduro who had endeared himself to the supporters in the game. Ofosu-Appiah shot feebly into the hands of USMA goalkeeper Abdouni Merouane and was followed by Oduro who also shot into the hands of the goalkeeper from the same posture taken by Ofosu-Appiah with only Charles Taylor scoring from his kick. USM Alger on the other hand scored all their four kicks taken by Zeghdoud Mounir, Ouichaoi Moncef, Handoud Mohamed and Diallo Mamadou to bring the final aggregate scores to 6-3. Kotoko kicked off strongly and threatened an early goal but goalkeeper Merouane came to the rescue of his team. Determined to carry the day at all cost, Kotoko kept the heat on the Algerians and earned a free kick in the third minute outside the penalty box but the kick was wasted.
Kotoko's persistent attack, however, paid off when in the fifth minute, Nana Arhin Duah fired a fierce shot from about 50 metres to beat goalkeeper Merouane for the opener.
The Kotoko fans responded to this early goal with vim and thought it had opened the floodgates for more goals but that was not to be as they allowed the North Africans to frustrate them. USM Alger made occasional breaks and in one such breaks in the 17th minute, the defence of Kotoko was caught pants down as the Algerians beat an offside trap but there was no one to connect the cross.
Let off the hook, Kotoko mounted another attack from the right in the 24th minute when Nana Arhin Duah sent a curling ball into the Algerians penalty box but goalkeeper Merouane failed to grab it for a defender to make a timely header to corner before any damage could be caused.
The Algerians played to a set pattern by packing their defence and resorting to occasional breakthroughs but this seemed not to give Kotoko much trouble.
Kotoko laid siege in USMA's territory and in the 36th minute, Charles Taylor missed an opportunity to increase the tally in a goalmouth action.
The beauty of the game was nearly marred when Camerounian referee, Eyehe Divine Raphael sent USM Alger's coach Moustafa Aksau out of the field for misconduct and followed up by ordering a Red Cross official out of the field for fighting with an Algerian player in the 40th minute.
Fresh from recess, Kotoko mounted a series of attacks on USM Alger and earned a free kick in the 52nd minute outside the goal area but it was wasted.
As the going seemed to be getting tough for Kotoko, injured Arhin Duah was pulled out in the 61st minute for William Tierro who announced his presence with a terrific shot in the 64th minute which was fisted back into play by goalkeeper Merouane.
Determined to carry the day, Kotoko again sent in Frank Osei for Michael Osei in the 73rd minute, while Michael Ofosu-Appiah took over from skipper Aziz Ansah in the 76th minute and these changes paid off.
Kotoko from then played the Algerians virtually in their own half, attacking from the left and in one of their moves, a neat pass was laid on the path of Yusif Chipsah who hit the back of the net with a terrific shot for Kotoko's second goal in the 81st minute.
This goal raised the expectations of the supporters who had predicted nothing less than three goals but that was not to be as William Tierro and Charles Taylor squandered the last two chances that came their way after substitute Michael Osei had worked his way from both sides of the pitch in the 89th and 90th minutes respectively to end the game 2-0 in favour of Kotoko.
When it was time for the penalty kicks to be taken, USM Alger converted all their four kicks while Kotoko scored only one out of their three kicks to send them out of the competition.