> CAF Confederation Cup Blues - Kotoko Blow Chance?
As Asante Kotoko struggle to come to terms with the reality of their Confederation Cup dream being virtually over, the fallout of the foul-strewn game continues to resonate. ##M:[Read more]#3
The scenes of indiscipline last Saturday that turned the Baba Yara Stadium into a sea of rowdyism, thanks to the short fuse of Etoile du Sahel players and officials, have left in their trail a bad name for football.
The death of a Japan-based Kotoko fan from shock after Etoile's second goal, the massive destruction of property after the match, and the arrest of the Etoile team manager for assaulting a policeman, all bore marks of a beautiful game that had been overshadowed by fanaticism.
The Etoile team manager was arraigned before court yesterday and sentenced to three days imprisonment.
The sensational 2-2 draw Etoile Sportive du Sahel forced against the Ghanaian champions last Saturday effectively ended it all for Kotoko in view of the head-to-head rule.
On a day that thousands of their fans were expecting a massive win to stake a strong claim to the top position of Group 2, the team lacked the teeth to bite, and the result was nightmarish.
The pressure to win was so huge, and perhaps the decision by the fans to vent their spleen on Referee Codja-Coffi for perceived poor officiating, was a way of assuaging the pain.
Codja-Coffi's offence was that he failed to award two penalties to Kotoko in both halves, and at the end he and his assistants, Alexis Fassinou and Joel Louis, were a sorry sight.
They were taken hostage in the dressing room long after the match ended and a conbined team of police and military had a hectic time taking them out of the stadium, with Codja-Coffi dressed like a Red Cross person.
The disturbances aside, the level of indiscipline exhibited by the Tunisians on the pitch was unbelievable and it was surprising that the referee failed to punish them.
Beleaguered Asante Kotoko coach, Bashir Hayford did not find things smooth either as some of the fans blamed him for the unimpressive performance.
Etoile coach, Michel de Castle said of the post match hostilities that, "I have never seen any such thing in my fifteen years experience in Africa"
Notwithstanding what he called the ordeal they went through, the Frenchman believed it was a difficult match and that his players needed to be congratulated for playing above themselves to earn that respectable result.
Clearly, the referee, who played 12 minutes of injury time, lost control of the match and his demeanour fuelled the nasty scenes that characterised the match.
But, Kotoko would have themselves to blame for failing to take their chances. Eric Bekoe, Jordan Opoku and Kwabena Yaro missed on various occasions when they should have placed the ball in the net.
Bekoe's seventh and 22nd minutes misses were the most unpardonable and the man who was expected to provide that inspirational performance was found wanting all afternoon.
Once again the Kotoko defence proved susceptible to pressure as typified by the 62nd minute goal fetched by substitute Slim Jedaied.
Appearing confused, defender Ofosu Appiah, failed to control well and Jedaied who came on for injured Ghanaian striker, Sadat Bukari in the 49th minute pounced on the ball, and strode to beat Soulama Abdoulaye in post for a goal of arrogant quality.
Asante Kotoko had entered the match bubbling with confidence, but the tactical approach of the visiting team prevailed.
Story by Kwame Asare Boadu
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