GLORIOUS Accra Hearts of Oak beat Kumasi Asante Kotoko 5-4 on penalties to retain the President Cup after playing goalless in regulation time in a fun-filled game at the Accra Sports Stadium yesterday to mark Ghana’s Republican status.
But for the first kick missed by a seemingly over confident Michael Akuffo for Kotoko, both sides displayed sheer wizardry from the spot with Eric Donkor, Latif Amadu, Christopher Bonney and Dawda Mohammed scoring for Kotoko while Robin Gnagne, Isaac Oduro, Gilbert Fiamenyo, Richard Yamoah and Foovi Aguidi netted to send the Rainbow boys into ecstasy.
But the headache of shooting from the spot could have been avoided if the front men of the two sides had connected any of the many decent chances that fell their way.
For Hearts, Eric Kumi would have become a public enemy if the Phobians had ended on the losing side as he wasted all three glorious opportunities that fell to them.
Kotoko also had their share of the chances which were fluffed by Obed Owusu, Eric Donkor while Hearts goalie, Soulama Abdulai also added to their nightmare brilliant saves to deny them.
Watched by a large crowd that included the Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Hearts kicked off in an amazing fashion, entertaining their fans with some deft touches in the Kotoko area before making the first incursion which nearly resulted in the opener but referee Samuel Gyasi faulted Selassi Adjei to have pushed his marker.
Thirteen minutes into the game, Hearts fans rose to greet the first goal of the afternoon when Eric Kumi ghosted past his marker, Ahmed Adams to latch onto one of the many incisive passes from Issah Mumuni but surprisingly, he shot straight into the arms of Kotoko’s goalie, Ofori Antwi.
It was a huge relief for the Reds and their followers but their reaction was swift.
Realising some disorganization at the Hearts rear, Kotoko attacked quickly from the left with a two-touch move between Christopher Bonney and Jordan Opoku which put danger man Ahmed Toure in a one-on-one situation but his feeble left strike was pushed to corner.
Kotoko afterwards dictated the pace and kept play in Hearts’ area but found it difficult to go past Gnagne and Boampong.
But despite their dominance, Hearts continued to create the better chances as evident in the 34th minute when the slippery Kumi outrun his marker again.
But instead of passing to an unmarked Selassi Adjei to do the easiest task of tapping in, Kumi decided to go for glory but rather fired into the side net to the chagrin of the fans.
And on the stroke of half time, it was Kotoko’s turn to punish Hearts for the misses but Obed Owusu failed to score from a Prince Baffoe cross from the right with only Soulama at his mercy.
Two spectacular saves in the second half marked the defining moment for the Phobians who could have crushed had Donkor’s miscue in front of goal and Toure’s drive gone in.
From recess, the Reds showed much promise with a variation in their game plan – attacking from the flanks with Bonney and Atta Kusi in full flight.
Just five minutes into the half, Donkor mis-fired a rebound from a melee created by an Atta Kusi cross into Hearts area. Soulama rushed to save the loose ball.
Toure followed up with a fierce volley in the 62nd minute but once again, Soulama was alert and able to deal with the task.
With both sides failing to find the back of the net, coaches Herbert Addo (Hearts) and David Duncan (Kotoko) reshuffled their cards in a bid to get the upper hand.
Addo took out Paul Acquah, Selassi Adjei and Isaac Mensah and were replaced by Gilbert Fiamenyo, Richard Yamoah and Foovi Aguidi while Duncan replaced Smallboy Korba, Prince Baffour and Obed Owusu with Akwesi Acheampong, Dawda Mohammed and Latif Amadu respectively but that could not alter the score, forcing organizers to decide the winner by the lottery of shoot-out.
By Andrew Nortey