Miracle At Baba Yara
IT was, indeed, a miracle at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, yesterday, when Asante Kotoko came from a 3-0 down aggregate to brush aside the bluff of the Dolphins of Nigeria, humbling them 4-3 in the second leg confederation cup to advance to the next stage of the competition.
Kotoko, a fortnight ago, 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 on revenge could not have materialized had coach Bashiru Hayford not realised the wisdom in introducing dribbling wizard, Stephen Oduro.
Oduro, who came on for Francis Akwaffo in the 59th minutes changed the pattern of the game as he opened the floor for the predatory instincts of Eric Bekoe to come to the fore to plant the ball twice in the net in the 71st and 85th minutes.
Dolphins who play second tier of club competition in Nigeria were not mere push over as they made the assignment very tough for the Porcupine warriors.
Fans sat on thorns when 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.
It was a big blow to the Kumasi lads as the visitors at this stage packed their defence pivoted 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 the fact the visitors were tall with their goalkeeper Ejiogu Chijioke thwarting most of the role effected.
Nana Arhin Duah, playing a captain’s game was not at his best, being bulky and unable to control the ball which had fans yelling for his replacement and indeed he was replaced in the 26th minutes with Kwabena Yaro.
Not perturbed by the tactics of the visitors, Kotoko pushed hard stringing neat passes with Francis Akwafo combling effectively with Harrison Afful who had a field day with great game.
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 and on the stroke of first half Samuel Inkoom set the stadium agog with the needed equaliser.
That really charged the devils in the profiles players to come out in the second half where both teams made some changes to pump blood into the game.
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 Anglon referee Antoms De Soussa Jose, had to book Joseph Eyimbe for such tactics during a corner kick in the 77th minutes.
Ten minutes to end the half and still it was 3-3 aggregate, and fans could not sit, as they realised the odds were not in their favour when the visitors appeared very stronger.
But, the explosion that greeted Yaro’s winner in the 89th minutes, was beyond description. Oduro took a pass from the midfield, found Bekoe who sent a pass to Nii Adjei who neatly lay it before Yaro to power the ball behind on-rushing Keeper Chijioke. That was the winning goal. And it was very deafening, the noise.