Match Report – Tier I Final: Karela Utd (1) 1-1 (4) Kotoko – Porcupine Warriors Clinch CAF Champions League Ticket After Shootout Win Over Passioners
Kumasi Asante Kotoko have claimed Ghana’s sole ticket to play in next season’s CAF Champions League after beating Karela United FC 4-1 on penalties in the Tier I final at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Sunday.
The shootouts followed a 1-1 regulation time draw in an entertaining clash before a cheerful crowd on attendance.
In a game that was screened live on GBC News24 Emmanuel Osei Baffour netted the opening goal of the game on the 48th minute mark before Abdul Safiu Fatawu pulled parity for the Porcupine Warriors through a 69th minute penalty kick.
Kotoko coach Charles Akonnor had to rely on third choice goalkeeper Osei Kwame following Danlad Ibrahim’s inability to recover from injury he picked up in the Tier II semi-final defeat against AshantiGold at the Accra Sports Stadium on Wednesday. Evans Owusu ceded his place to Daneil Darkwah despite enjoying two impressive spells against Hearts of Oak and AshantiGold in both semi-final games in the Tier I and II.
Guinean forward Naby Keita held down his place in the squad as he partnered Abdul Safiu Fatawu in attack.The experienced Jordan Opoku Darko joined former Gefle IF midfielder Kwame Bonsu in the middle.
Johnson Smith assembled his reliable line up which had Solomon Sarfo Taylor and Charles Diawisie Taylor in attack. Isaac Kwain and the workaholic Emmanuel Keyekeh also started for the Passioners.
The hopeful Porcupine Warriors fans thronged the 45,000 capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium to cheer their side to secure victory over the entertaining Karela side.
Naby Keita and Jordan Opoku expressed themselves to present the game’s maiden real opportunity to Kotoko but Ampem Da Costa displayed great resilience to deny them.
Kotoko displayed great football spirit and wore their hearts on their sleeves with the enterprising Daniel Darkwah seemingly shutting down Diawisie Taylor in the opening half hour of the game. Taylor, 19, has become a goal assassin in the competition and is striking fear into defences but Darkwah kept in well in check.
Emmanuel Gyamfi wriggled through on the right following a quicksilver counter move. The former Ghana U17 winger had the better of Nurudeen Abdulai before feeding the ball to Kwame Bonsu. The 24-year-old then unleashed a terrific 20 yarder which nearly produced the opening goal.
Kotoko perpetuated their bombardment of the Karela box in a quest to register the opening but they failed to make it count.
Meanwhile Karela had the patience and perspicacity needed to crack down the resolute Kotoko defence and their patience almost paid off moments before the end of the first stanza as Sarfo Taylor gunnered confidence to ward off Wahab Adams before trying an intelligent effort aimed at the bottom right corner but his half-volley was superbly stopped by Osei Kwame.
Emmanuel Osei Baffour was booked for a handball incident around the Kotoko area as referee Latif Adaari brought the first-half to an end with the scores barren.
Diawisie Taylor gnawed his teeth at the Kotoko defence just moments into the second half after producing a prodigious effort from inside the area but the dexterity of Osei Kwame saved Kotoko as he tipped the ball to corner. Kotoko didn’t have long to stay afloat as Isaac Kwain’s carpet braced corner kick was well met by Emmanuel Osei Baffour who turned home for the game’s opener.
Kotoko injected extra urgency into their game after the visitors took the lead with Gyamfi and Safiu Fatawu being at the helm of things. Burkina Faso star Songnè Yacouba emerged out of the dugout as the pressure piled on the Porcupine Warriors to pull parity.
Kotoko came close to levelling things up as Safiu Fatawu fired a strike which was cleared off the line by Nurudeen on the 67th minute mark. But, the resultant goalmouth melee fetched a penalty for Kotoko.
Abdul Safiu Fatawu elected himself and artfully sent Isaac Hagan the wrong way for the equaliser.
Songnè Yacouba replaced Augustine Sefah in the 70th minute. The substitution brought a tactical switch to the Kotoko side as Frimpong switched to the lateral defence to complete a 3-5-2 switch.
Johnson Smith responded by introducing Alhaji Sani to counter the Kotoko midfield. The former AshantiGold midfielder took the place of Darlington Gyanfosu.
Kotoko were able to put the ball in the Karela net but the referee adjudged that the ball
Karela United: Isaac Hagan – Isaac Kwain, Ampem Da Costa, Nurudeen Abdulai, Patrick Yeboah – Darlington Gyanfosu, Emmanuel Keyekeh, Emmanuel Osei Baffour, Godfred Yeboah – Solomon Sarfo Taylor, Charles Diawisie Taylor.
Substitution: Darlington Gyanfosu OUT – Alhaji Sani IN, Nii Kalala IN – Isaac Hagan.
Kotoko: Osei Kwame – Daniel Darkwah, Augustine Sefah, Wahab Adams, Abdul Ganiu Ismail – Amos Frimpong, Kwame Bonsu, Jordan Opoku Darko, Emmanuel Gyamfi – Naby Kieta, Abdul Safiu Fatawu
Substitution: Augustine Sefah OUT – Songnè Yacouba IN, Kwame Boahene IN – Jordan Opoku OUT.
GOALS: Emmanuel Osei Baffour 48′ Abdul Safiu Fatawu 69‘
- Abdul Ganiu Ismail – Scored
- Patrick Yeboah – Missed
- Daniel Darkwah – Scored
- Ampem Da Costa – Missed
- Abdul Safiu Fatawu – Scored
- Godfred Yeboah – Scored
- Naby Keita – Scored
Karela United 1-4 Kotoko on penalties