No winner in J.A. Kufuor Cup As Ashgold hold Kotoko 1-1

BY: Daniel Kenu
Ashgold’s Habib Mohammed (No.19) closes in on Kotoko’s Agyemang Badu to stop him from advancing with the ball Pictures: EMMANUEL BAAH
Ashgold’s Habib Mohammed (No.19) closes in on Kotoko’s Agyemang Badu to stop him from advancing with the ball Pictures: EMMANUEL BAAH

Kumasi Asante Kotoko and regional rivals Ashgold played to a 1-1 drawn game after 120 minutes to climax the 80th birthday  anniversary celebration of former President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor in the maiden J.A. Kufuor Cup at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday.

Organisers of the match, Primeval Media, in consultation with the Kufuor Foundation, will fix a new date to determine the winner of the match.

Petit Emmanuel Gyamfi and midfielder Richard Ella Djodi scored for Kotoko and Ashgold, respectively after 90 minutes to push the game to an extra time.

Former President Kufuor was unable to make it to the big game but he was ably represented by New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwarts in the Ashanti Region, including the Sports Minister Mr Isaac Asiamah, and MP for Asokwa, Ms Patricia Apeagyei.

Kotoko swung into action after the exchange of pleasantries led by Bamtamahene, Baffour Amankwatia VI, who stood in for the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Kotoko Coach Charles Akonnor introduced some new faces in his set up, including goalkeeper Mohammed Muntari Tagoe instead of his regular Felix Annan as he works towards tightening up his midfield ahead of their clash against Camerounian side Coton Sport in the CAF Confederation Cup play off  in two weeks.

But the over reliance on Burkinabe striker Songne Yacouba for goals remains the main headache for the Porcupine Warriors.

By the 21st minute, one of the new faces Abdul Fatawu had proven to be ready for the big stage but he messed up after rounding up goalkeeper Frank Boateng, while a minute later AshantiGold's Richard Ella Djodi hit the crossbar from a fast break.

Referee Maxwell Owusu's consistent stoppage of the game to allow for the advantage rule became the main ingredient that marred the free flow and beauty of the game.

No wonder he was intermittently booed by the fans, especially those at the Centre Line.

By the 30th minute, the game had been reduced to a midfield action where both teams appear to have their strength.

Yacouba disappointed his beloved fans when instead of shooting at close range in the 32nd minute he decided to impress by rounding up goalkeeper Boateng who recovered early enough to clear his lines.

By the 40th minute, it seemed AshantiGold had run out of steam as they relied more on counterattacks as they soaked up the pressure from the Kotoko attack.

Kotoko kept the Miners on the back foot at the closing stage of the first half but speedstar Emmanuel Gyamfi who had a quiet afternoon blew away what could have separated the two sides on the stroke of half time.

But diminutive winger atoned for his earlier miss in the 59th minute with a perfect long drive which caught the goalkeeper wrong footed for Kotoko's opener.

Kotoko's goal ironically galvanised AshGold who came out from their shelve to attack and minutes later Shafiu Mumuni's left footer was pushed by goalkeeper Tagoe but it took the effort of his defenders to clear it to corner.

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That marked the revival of the game with an end to end action from both sides.

Djodi responded for Ashgold with a pile driver in the 70th minute as the excitement of the game soared.

The yearly competition is to raise GH¢80 million for the next five years to support the Kufuor Foundation.

The former president is being celebrated for his good leadership in introducing a lot of social interventions, including the National Health Insurance Scheme and building two stadia in Tamale and Essipon.

The match was organised by Primeval Media in conjunction with the foundation and sponsored by a number of companies, including the UMB Bank.