Kpando Heart of Lions has exited the African Champions League and broken the hearts of the hundreds of soccer fans that thronged the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra after they struggled for a 3-2 win over Etoile Filante of Burkina Faso in the competition's preliminary meeting on Sunday.
Lions who sere seeking to overturn a 2-0 deficit incurred in the first leg in Ouagadougou a fortnight ago remained their own enemies with missed chances especially in the first half that diminished any opportunity of their progressing further in the competition in which they played as debutants.
The Ghanaians swam in a deep ocean of inexperience but that was not enough to atone for the amazing comedy of errors at goal with had Hans Coufie as the worst culprit.
Coufie missed from the spot on the ninth minute mark after his colleague Ibrahim Sulemana was brought flying in the visitors box; Anars Mohammed managed to get his head on the rebound from the missed kick but Filante's goalkeeper Amadou Sere was at his best to deny Lions the lead.
The home team consistently drew close to getting ahead and giving themselves any realistic chance of overturning the first leg results by scoring more goals to progress to the next stage but were full of waste and it had to be Filante who took the lead right from recess.
Capitalizing on the host decision to under utilise the flanks, Filante exploited the Lions defence and succeeded in going ahead on the 57th minute mark through Tidiane Tall.
Tall who had been effective all afternoon tore away from the right flank, cut deep into the defence and took a curly one that got the Lions rear in six and sevens and rose beyond goalkeeper Stephen Ahorlu to shock the teeming nationalistic fans who were all rooting for Lions.
Second half substitute, Stephen Owusu however was able to equalize for Lions three minutes later on with a beautiful grounder from an Edmund Owusu-Ansah's intelligent set up for the team to breathe a temporal sense of confidence into the crowd in the arena.
However, Eric Solama was quick to restore the lead for the visitors after making the most of a defensive blunder to turn Ahorlu inside out before getting on target.
With their backs against the wall, Lions were compelled to fight back and it paid off for them instantaneously when Coufie gifted from Owusu-Ansah's hard work to pull even.
Lions took charge from then on and with a goal beckoning with each invasion, Owusu got his second on the 78th minute with a giant header from a corner kick to send the fans roaring and urging them on for more goals which however eluded the Lions.
Three minutes on, Owusu got another opportunity to solidify the team's push for qualification, but when the player headed wide from a close range, it remained obvious that the dream of progressing was over to send the fans home down hearted in a game a cross section of fans were optimistic that Lions could carry the day.