Kotoko confirms dominance over Hearts
Accra, July 1, GNA - Fabulous Kumasi Asante Kotoko on Friday confirmed their renewed dominance over League leaders, Accra Hearts of Oak with a 1-0 win in their Anniversary Cup match played at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra. Kotoko, until the last league match against Hearts at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, which they won 3-1, had succumbed to the Accra side on two occasions by losing out the maiden edition of the Confederation Cup and the 2004 league trophy earlier in the year.
By annexing the President's Cup, the Fabulous lads have grabbed their fourth trophy in the 2005 soccer season after annexing the Gala, SWAG and the recent Charity Cups as well as their latest victory over Hearts. The significant victory over Hearts, was however, made possible by speedster George Yamoah who capitalised on a defensive error by the Hearts defence to put the ball behind keeper Saanie Mohammed who could not help but see the ball crawl into his net with seven minute before regulation time. The goal separated the two sides after an intensed battle for supremacy.
The match however in a typical Hearts/Kotoko encounter never lacked the usual throwing of sachet water unto the tartan tracks by the fans with the slightest dissatisfaction against the referee's decision. Prior to this, both sides hardly created any decent chances in the game despite the usage of three former international stars.
Kotoko had the luxury of using the services of Nii Odartey Lamptey, whose sublime skills, aggression and speed was a shadow of his past whilst Razak Ibrahim and former three-time goal king Ishameal Addo were not extra ordinary on the Hearts side. It was Kotoko who should have taken the lead in the 34th minute when Yussif Chibsah's mid air drive was scooped out of the post by defender Kwabena Boafo after both sides had found it difficult to take total control of the game ending the first half on a barren note.
The early stages of the second half saw Kotoko taking a slight control in the game as they exhibited good inter-positional play but found the Hearts defence impregnable, whilst Hearts top marksman, Prince Tagoe was clipped by the Issah Ahmed led defence of Kotoko. Despite this, Addo managed to break through the Kotoko defence in the 48th minute but had his goal bound shot cleared out of danger with Kotoko responding with an attack in the 60th minute, which saw Douglas Nkrumah shooting wide after a melee in the Hearts defence. With both sides aiming at the opener, Bernard Don Bortey was well positioned to put his side ahead but his accurate shot was met with a brilliant save by Habib Mohammed in post for Kotoko in the 61st minute leaving the game scoreless.
Following the near misses by the front men of both sides it became evident that the game was heading to draw until Yamoah pulled the winner to separate the two sides. The goal was met with furious attacks from Hearts but they were unable to cancel the goal as the Kotoko defence stood firm until the end of the proceedings by referee J.K. Mortey of Tema. Fans of Kotoko received the victory with much joy declaring the era when they played second fiddle to Hearts was over. Issah Ahmed, the skipper of Asante Kotoko received the trophy that was presented by the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
Kotoko by the victory received 30 million cedis for their efforts while Hearts settled for 20 million cedis as the runners up, aside pocketing 30 per cent each from the gate proceeds. Hours before the start of the game, which was to celebrate the 45th Republican Anniversary of Ghana, soccer fans were treated with a musical concert by such renowned names like Rex Omar, K.K. Fosu, Obuor, Tic Tac and other top local musicians who took their turns to entertain soccer fans with their latest releases.