Fabulous Kumasi Asante Kotoko produced an impressive performance to beat Zambian side, Zesco United 2-1 to revive their CAF Confederation Cup.
Kotoko's win at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday, their first in two matches, opens up Group C after each of the teams won their home matches.
In the other group match played yesterday in Zambia, Nkana FC beat visiting Sudanese side, Al Hilal, 2-1 to put all the teams on three points.
Yesterday, the expectant Kotoko faithful painted the the Baba Yara stadium in the club’s red colour, with the kick-off delayed for more than eight minutes after the Moroccan referee, Noureddine El Jaafari, insisted Zesco’s goalkeeper Jacobson Banda changed into the appropriate shin guard.
Kotoko started attacking their opponents moments after the game started and should have taken advantage of two quick mix-ups in the Zesco goal area, but winger Emmanuel Gyanfi and Abdul Fatawu Safiu fluffed fine scoring opportunities in front of the opponents’ goalmouth.
However, Kwame Bonsu brought the home fans to their feet in the ninth minute when his goal-bound shot deflected off a Zambian defender into the net for the opener.
Bonsu finished off a perfect pass from the flanks by Burkinabe forward Songne Yacouba to fire Kotoko ahead and also raise the appetite of the home fans for more goals.
A minute later, Yacouba blew away a golden opportunity when with only goalkeeper Jacob Banda to beat, he fired off target much to the chagrin of the home fans.
Kotoko failed to sustain the pressure after the opening goal and bolstered the confidence of Zesco players who started attacking with their traditional long balls, one of which earned them a penalty in the 20th minute after a reckless tackle by a Kotoko defender on a Zambian forward.
Kotoko goalkeeper Felix Annan rose up to the challenge and punched Jesse Jackson Were's kick to give his side a breather.
Kotoko recovered quickly and doubled the scoreline in the 25th minute through Gyamfi who latched onto a pass by Yacouba to fire the ball home.
Despite the Kotoko lead, Zesco never relented in their search for a goal as their swift inter-positional play threatened the Kotoko defence.
On few occasions, goalkeeper Annan stood between the Zambians and goals with a superlative performance.
Were, Enock Sabumukama and Mwila Phiri never gave the Kotoko defence a breathing space as they multiplied in attack, putting their markers on constant pressure and causing Annan to overwork.
Despite his impressive contribution to Kotoko’s overall performance, Yacouba failed to rediscover his scoring boots for the sixth match in the competition as he missed a number of scoring opportunities that fell his way.
In the 73rd minute, substitute Rahim Osumanu scored a consolation goal for the visiting side as he punished Kotoko after a misunderstanding between their centre-backs and goalkeeper Annan.
Kotoko went through a harrowing experience during the last five minutes of the game as the visitors pinned them to their own half, with goalkeeper Annan proving equal to the task. The shot-stopper once again pulled off a brilliant save in the 85th minute to deny Zesco’s Ghanaian forward Osumanu a second goal to keep the Kotoko’s hopes alive.
The numerical strength of Zesco was reduced to 10 men after Kondwani Mtonga was shown the red card for reckless tackle.
Line-up (Kotoko): 12. Felix Annan 20. Amos Frimpong 15. Augustine Sefah 30. Ismail Abdul-Ganiu 2. Emmanuel Agyeman Badu 14. Richard Senu/Habib Mohammed 29. Emmanuel Gyamfi 3. Kwame Bonsu 10. Songne Yacouba/ Stephen Nyarko
23. Abdul Fatawu Safiu 11. Maxwell Baakoh.
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