Splendid goalkeeping Mohammed Alhassan of Kumasi Asante Kotoko prevented Bofoakwa Tano from sharing the maximum points with the Porcupine Warriors in the opening match of the Group "A" Premier league match at the Sunyani Coronation Park on Wednesday.
Kotoko won the match 1-0 through Frank Osei who converted a neat pass from Yusif Chibsah in the 31st minute of the first half. The bravery and mighty save made by goalkeeper Alhassan at the tail-end of the injury time denied the home team of getting a deserving a draw of their encounter.
Bofoakwa's coach, Nana Awuah was blamed by the supporters for allowing striker, Eric Ansah to play the full 90-minute despite his poor performance for the majority part of the game but he nearly caused a scare when his perfect header which should have enabled his side to level matters up was beautifully saved by goalkeeper Alhassan. Alhassan incidentally played for Bofoakwa before joining the red-shirted "Oseikrom" club.
That beautiful last-minute goal-attempt by Ansah seemed to have atoned for his poor performance of the day as the supporters came out with spontaneous cheers in appreciation of his effort.
Earlier, FIFA Referee Alex Quartey of Accra who handled the match called for the observance of a minute's silence in honour of Sunyani-based Class One Referee, Stephen Kyeremeh who collapsed and died in Kumasi last Saturday, October 16 during a Referees' training course for the Northern Sector members of the Association.
When Bofoakwa kicked off they had false hopes that they were ready to avenge their 3-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Kotoko in the first round of the competition in Kumasi.
For the first six minutes it was Bofoakwa all the way but goalkeeper Alhassan was always on hand to neutralize all the early goal attempts initiated by his former club.
Left off the hook, Nana Arhin Duah's goal-bound cross in the ninth minute failed to find the target as there was none of his fellow attackers to connect home.
In the 15th minute, Bofoakwa's defender, Akwasi Matthew, sent in a power laden free-kick directly towards the posts but keeper Alhassan stretched to his elastic best to tip the ball to safety. The first yellow card of the match went to Ansah of Bofoakwa in the 27th minute for rough-play.
Kotoko fielding all their top stars including Yusif Chibsah, Daniel Yeboah, George Amofa, Sam Addo and Issah Ahmed in the first half took the lead in the 31st minute through Frank Osei.
After the goal, Bofoakwa made two substitutions with Tahiru Abdulai (alias "Fan Milk") replacing injured Mongai Kojo while Abu Issah also took over from Joseph Doe in the 40th and 42nd minutes respectively. Just after the changes Bofoakwa managed to put the ball in the net but surprisingly Referee Quartey disallowed it.
This followed an infringement against Kotoko and the resultant free-kick was shot into the net only to be disallowed by the referee with the excuse that he did not whistle before the kick was taken and therefore directed for the kick to be retaken.
Bofoakwa briefly protested against the Referee's decision but later agreed for the re-take but this time Kotoko managed to clear the situation.
Soon after the resumption of the second half, keeper Alhassan was shown the yellow card for failing to wear a shin-guard. In the 48th minute, Nana Arhin Duah saw that that goalkeeper Ransford Cudjoe of Bofoakwa had moved forward and he quickly sent in a powerful long-range shot but the keeper managed to punch it over the bar.
Nana Arhin-Duah was on target again in the 57th minute and once again goalkeeper Cudjoe was on alert to make a good save of the effort. Bofoakwa's hard-tackling Abeiku Aikins attracted a yellow card for kicking George Amofa.
Kotoko made some substitutions as the game progressed with Shilla Alhassan replacing Arhin-Duah and Michael O. Appiah coming in for Frank Osei.
Kotoko's changes yielded good dividends as Shilla and Elvis Opoku combined effectively up-front disorganizing the midfield advantage of Bofoakwa and dictating the pace of the game from then on. They could however not translate their dominance to score again till the end of the proceedings. 20 Oct. 04