Hearts edge Kotoko out …To book G8 finals slot

Flashback Hearts players celebrating a recent victory over KotokoAccra Hearts of Oak lived up to their pre-match bluff to beat Kumasi Asante Kotoko 4-2 on penalties at the semi-final stage of the ongoing Ghana League Clubs Association ( GHALCA ) G8 competition at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, yesterday.

Both sides played goalless in regulation time with the Phobians creating and wasting majority of the goal scoring chances that came their way in both halves.

Hearts has thus qualified to the finals of the tournament waiting for the winner of today’s second semi final clash between Dreams FC and Medeama SC to be played at the new Cape Coast Sports Stadium.

For the first time in the two-week long competition, yesterday’s game between the two biggest traditional clubs attracted an encouraging crowd that cheered their respective teams until the penalty shoot-out stage when those of the Porcupine Warriors left in droves following their poor shots.

The Phobians made their intention known early in the ninth and 16th minute marks but that saw Reginald Thompson and Francis Morton missing the chances.

The Hearts trio of Samudeen Ibrahim, Cosmos Dauda and Francis Morton pumped heat in the Hearts midfield as they dictated the pace in the earlier exchanges with their Kotoko counterpart calm and stood resolute in their area of the field.

But when the Porcupine Warriors warmed themselves into the game, they were a delight to watch.

They controlled well and made their presence felt everywhere on the field as the likes of Jordan Opoku, Emmanuel Gyamfi and Kwame Boahen attempted to exert themselves on the Phobians and threatened to break the Phobian resistance.

However, they met a stiff and unyielding opposition for a tough and rugged Hearts’ defenders built around the resolute Richard Akrofi, captain Inusah Musah and Robert Addo.

In the absence of the usual Robin Gnagne and Vincent Atinga, the trio established themselves as the next in line for the Phobians as far as the defensive area was concerned as they combined beautifully to keep the impressive Kotoko attackers at bay.

As both teams tried to find the opener, it was Hearts forward Cosmos Dauda who went so close to finding the opener when his effort from close range missed the target by inches.

Found in a comfortable position with virtually no challenge, Dauda missed narrowly with his header to a Samudeen drive in the 33rd minute.

Both continued with the battle for superiority in midfield but failed to create a clear cut chance again till the referee’s whistle sound for the break.

The best of both teams was exhibited in the second half with Hearts dominating play with incisive passes.

Five minutes into the half, a brilliant move by Samudeen Ibrahim should have seen Christopher Bonney walk the ball into the net but he fired it over the bar to the surprise of everybody.

Hearts carried the game to the game to the Asanteman warriiors whose midfield seemed not to work as expected.

Playing a yeoman’s game, Inusah Musah watched in disbelief as his power driven shot from the centre was parried over the bar by keeper Felix Annan in the 65th minute.

With the game going in favour of the Phobians, Kotoko kept more men in midfield and defense to defend their goal while Hearts did more of the attacking with reinforcement from Patrick Razak, Malik Akowuah and Francis Morton.

Razak, for instance remained a constant thorn in the flesh of the Porcupine Warriors with his speed but the Kotoko defense managed to contain him until the referee blew for the end of regulation time and left their fate with the penalty shoot-outs.

From the spot, Patrick Razak, Malik Akowuah, Francis Morton and Christopher Bonney scored with excellence with kicks from Baba Mahama and Awudu Nafiu not being enough to stop the onward march of the Phobians in the competition.

Richard Akrofi missed for the Phobians while Eric Donkor, and Jackson Owusu failed to convert for Kotoko.

FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI 

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