Hearts bundled out of Champions League
Accra, March 20, GNA - A spirit-less Accra Hearts of Oak team were on Sunday dumped out of the Confederations of Africa (CAF) Champions League by the Dolphins Club of Nigeria on a 5-2 aggregate after they managed only to win the return leg 2-1 at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra on Sunday.
Hearts who were beaten 4-0 a fortnight ago in Nigeria, had promised their fans who thronged to the stadium a fistful of goals to overturn the first leg deficit, but the miracle never came as the Nigerians did all in their power to move ahead in the competition In a game that everybody expected the Ghanaians to attack from the blast of the whistle, it was the Nigerians who rather took control of the game in the early stages and came close in the opening minutes of scoring when a cross from the right flashed past the front of the posts.
The Nigerians continued to attack to the amazement of the packed to capacity stadium and again came close in the seventh minute when Ojobe Ochuku's effort flew past the Hearts posts with none of their attackers in attendance to finish off.
It took Hearts some time to settle into their strides and their first attempt at goal came in the 10th minute when a well laid pass by Abdul Samad Okocha was intercepted at the last moment by a vigilant Dolphins defender before Prince Tagoe who was lurking in the back ground could pounce on it to cause any damage.
With the game concentrated in the midfield with limited opening at both ends, Hearts came close again in the 12th and 16th minutes but on both occasions Augustine Brown in post for the Dolphins was alive to his responsibilities to save attempts from Bernard Don Bortey and Prince Tagoe.
Though Hearts pushed forward on many occasions, their defence rather leaked badly anytime they were called to duty and they nearly gifted the Nigerians the lead when in the 31st minute, Kwabena Boafo blundered but keeper Abubakar Sulemana made a daring save to rescue the situation.
In the 36th minute, Dolphins again came close through Endurance Idoho who when confronted with keeper Sulemana shot wide. The second half started with Hearts fans starting to doubt whether the goal harvest would materialise as they anticipated, as they failed to comprehend the way the team was playing.
The die-hard Hearts fans nearly had something to cheer about in the 50th minute when a combination between Prince Tagoe and Adjah Tetteh left the latter unmarked but his well struck volley went straight into the waiting hands of keeper Augustine Brown in post for the Dolphins. Hearts were nearly given a rude awakening in the 69th minute when a gliding header by substitute Bola Belo who had earlier come on for Endurance Idoho hit the Hearts goal posts and out of touch.
Eric Nyarko who did some great work in the midfield for Hearts brought the best out of Brown when his long drive from the edge of the box was pushed to touch in the 70th minute.
Hearts could not be denied a goal any longer when in the 70th minute, they finally hit the back of the net courtesy a simple tap by Prince Tagoe after Adjah Tetteh's shot had beaten a cluster of the Nigerian defence.
With the goal advantage, Hearts pushed more men into attack and in the 76th minute they nearly doubled their lead but Prince Tagoe could not keep his composure and fired his shot into the waiting hands of Brown.
The stadium came alive again in the 78th minute when Tagoe scored his second goal after profiting from a blunder by the Dolphins keeper when he spilled a long-range effort from Amankwah Mireku unto the path of Tagoe.
The Nigerians, sensing danger reorganised their play and brought the best of Efusa Eguakun, whose ability to keep onto the ball changed the complexion of the game as he caused a lot of trouble for the Hearts defence anytime the Nigerians broke loose.
The reorganisation paid off for them when Kelechi Osunwa put a dagger through the heart of most fans at the stadium when he scored with a cheeky back heel in the 81st minute to kill any hope of the home team over-turning the four goal deficit from the first leg.
Hearts from then seemed to have lost any hope of revival as their dream was squashed by the Nigerian away goal and failed to do much till the final whistle.
The disappointed Hearts fans most of whom were not happy with their team's elimination from the Champions League, pelted skipper Amankwah Mireku after the game with sachet water for what they termed as his lacklustre defending that brought about the Nigerian goal.
Line Up (Hearts) Abubakar Sulemana, Amankwah Mireku, Acquah Harrison/Dan Oppong, Kwabina Boafo, Daniel Cloeman, Eric Nyarko, Bernard Don Bortey, Adjah Tetteh, Prince Tagoe, Abdul Samad/Wisdom Agloxo, Joe Tagoe/Francis Bossman
Dolphins: Augutine Brown, Ahmed Abdul, Kennedy Ohinwo, Joseph Eyimofe, Yakubu Attah, Obinna Nnodim, Ochuku Ojobe, Victor Babayaro/Efusa Egukun, Victor Ezeji/Gogwin Enima, Kelechi Osunwa, Endurance Idoho/Bola Belo.