Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Asec Mimosas renewed old rivalry at the Felix Houghouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan yesterday, settling for a gruelling 1-1 draw in a preliminary African Champions League first leg qualifier encounter.
A stupendous strike from Shilla Alhassan after 78 minutes was all that Kotoko needed to return home with a respectable scoreline.The young Asec team had played impressively in the domestic league this season and the home fans were expecting them to take Kotoko to the slaughter house.
But exhibiting more experience, Kotoko could have even returned home with a win had the attack remained focused.
William Tierro, playing on the top of attack, was lost in the game for a greater period and the attack became impotent till Shilla Alhassan was brought into the fray in the second half.
Playing a tight midfield of Chibsah, Adzagba and Issah Ahmed, Kotoko kept the Asec attack of Tia Mabea, Die Fone and Emmanuel Kone at bay.Charles Taylor whose named was all over Abidjan before the game set the stadium agog when he swept the ball past strong defender Mamadou Doumbia, the chap nicknamed 'Doum2', in the 17th minute but could not deliver the final kill.
Tia Mebea, just 20 years and a clinical finisher in the Ivorian League, attempted to deceive keeper Mohammed Alhassan with a bicycle kick in the area in the 33rd minute but the keeper was up to the task.Taylor appeared to have been punched by an opponent in the 37th minute as he fell but no-nonsence Togolese referee Sadjro Kossi ignored him.
By the 47th minute Chibsah and Essien had been booked for rough play. With Asec supporters yelling for a goal the players responded with the opener in the 54th minute. A corner kick from Soro Tiana saw Die Fonoye connecting with a header and the stadium came alive.
Asec opened fire from all angles and at a point it looked like Kotoko were going to suffer a heavy defeat.
Twice in the 61st and 62nd minute keeper Alhassan had to rise to the occasion to save sticky situations as Die Fonoye and Soro Bakery threatened the Kotoko area.
Coach Hans Kodric brought on Michael Asante and Shilla Alhasssan for Adzagba and Essien respectively and Kotoko started coming back into the picture.
Taylor withdrew to a more defensive midfield role as Shilla harassed the Ivorians before bringing Kotoko on level terms with that brilliant strike.