Accra Hearts of Oak on Sunday struggled to beat AS Douanes of Senegal by a lone goal in the first leg of the Confederations Cup competition at the Accra Sports Stadium. Hearts who played without three of their key players, namely Dan Coleman, Francis Bossman and Emmanuel Osei Kuffour due to suspensions had to struggle throughout the 90 minutes of action and only managed to score the winning goal during injury time from Ablade Morgans' low header.
The slim victory put the Phobians into another tight corner and makes their entry into the league stage of the competition a murky one. It was the home team who should have taken the lead in the first quarter of the game when the third, seventh and ninth minutes most of the chances that mostly fell the way of speedster Lawrence Adjei, were misdirected.
The Senegalese who played a tactical and compact game were hot customers for Hearts any time they initiated a move into attack and it took the central defensive pair of Kwabena Boafo and Dan Quaye to thwart all the dangerous balls to deny them of creating any clear cut chances. Hearts continued to invade their opponent's area in search of a goal but they were denied any opportunity by the tall and lanky goalie of Douanes, Babacar Ndiaye who used his height to advantage as he easily handled all aerial balls in his goal area.
As the first half of the game progressed, there were indications that it will be a barren half and this came to reality after Adjei's header from Quaye's cross was scooped out of the net by Keeper Ndiaye to end the first half goalless.
After three minutes of the resumption of the second half there was a bizarre incident when a fan invaded the pitch to pick something he perceived as "juju" from the post of the visitors, which attracted a protest from the team and their officials.
This held play for over five minutes and when the game resumed, the pattern of the game was no different as Hearts failed to find their rhythm and blew away the few chances they created through poor shooting and ineffective passes.
The visitors from this moment took over the midfield battle and pinned Hearts to their own half and created some anxious moments for the home team but the striking pair of Ibrahim Ba and Madio Ndiaye could not deliver any power driven shots to score.
The situation made the home fans to sit on tenterhooks during these moments and the stadium was dead silent as it was becoming clear that the match was heading for an uncomfortable draw especially for the home team.
The Senegalese could not hold on to the pressure as they allowed the Phobians to come out of their shells to launch series of last minutes attacks on them, which on numerous occasions never reached the desired target.
Hearts were handed a lifeline after the 90 minutes mark when six minutes of injury time was added on and this they made use of, when substitute Alfred Nii Larbi placed the ball on the path of Adjei who delivered a neat cross into the vital area of the Senegalese for Morgan to head in for the match winner to end the day.
There was wild jubilation from the home fans while the visitors wore sad faces as their plan to at least get an away point fizzled out. Line Up HEARTS Sammy Adjei, Eric Nyarko, Micheal Donkor, Dan Quaye, Kwabena Boafo, Amankwah Mireku, Lawrence Adjei, Adjah Tetteh, Prince Tagoe/Kwame Antwi/Alfred Nii Larbi, Louis Agyeman, Bernard Don Bortey/Ablade Morgan DOUANE Babaca Ndiaye, Abdoulaiye Fami Fall, Mousa Camara, Khalita Sunikhere, Pappa Mamoudou/Nicholas Mdome, Pappis Demba, Paper Malik/Allome Fall, Osmanu Ndao, Cheik Diop/Ibrahim Ba, Madio Ndiaye, Papa Bakar Kamara