Kotoko qualify for CAF Confederation Cup group stage
Asante Kotoko on Sunday advanced to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup on a 4:3 goal aggregate after surviving a scary onslaught from Libyan side Al-Ittihad.
Kotoko, unusually lacking fluidity, won the second leg encounter at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi 3:1, having lost the first leg 2:1 in Tripoli, Libya a fortnight earlier.
Kotoko achieved the feat courtesy a late penalty converted by Eric Bekoe, but the Porcupine Warriors also have a lot to thank their Burkinabe international goalkeeper, Soulama for. The brilliant goalkeeper came between the Libyans and several goal-bound shots on an occasion his defence looked just lethargic.
And the ill-tempered Al-Ittihad players charged at the match officials while their officials engaged security men in scuffles after the final whistle, claiming to have been cheated after Tunisian referee Trabelsi Aouaz disallowed what appeared a perfect second half equaliser to Eric Bekoe's 8th minute opener.
A Libyan attacker, sandwiched between two Kotoko defenders, managed to head home a great cross to set off wild jubilation among his colleagues, leaving the Kotoko defence with arguments over who should have done what. But the Libyans were stunned with the referee's decision disallowing the goal for offside.
When play resumed, it was Kotoko who added to their tally when Jordan Opoku riffled in the second goal from outside the visitors' box.
And while goalkeeper Soumala was busy parrying shots and stopping point-blank, goal-bound shots, it took his compatriot, Pierre Coulibaly to break his resolve and throw the game wide with a powerfully headed shot with 10 minutes left.
With three minutes of play to go, a moment of bravery by Eric Bekoe, who attempted to juggle the ball in the opponents' box, saw a defender apply his hands for an undisputed penalty. Bekoe elected to effect the kick and sent the Libyan goalkeeper in the wrong direction for the much-needed winner.
Author: Isaac Yeboah