Kotoko beat Hearts … To win 9th FA Cup trophy

FABUA stupendous first half hat-trick by striker Saddick Adams ensured Kumasi Asante Kotoko won their ninth FA Cup title with a convincing 3-1 win over arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak at the Tamale Sports Stadium.
The ‘unmissable’ game, which produced unending drama, characteristic of clashes between the two bitter rivals, saw the burly striker who has come under massive backlash from the Porcupine fraternity become the first Kotoko player after Opoku Nti in 1983 to score a hat-trick against Hearts.
It was the Porcupines who announced their readiness to carry the day. As early as the second minute, diminutive winger Kwame Boahen pounced onto a misplaced pass by Hearts defender Richard Akrofi around the Hearts’ 18-yard box, surged into his opponent’s area and found forward Adams, who controlled calmly with all the composure in the world, before tucking the ball past on-rushing Hearts goalie Ben Mensah to set the tone for a crunch game.
The early goal seemed to have unsettled the Phobians as they failed to string passes together, losing the ball in their half of the pitch to the Porcupine lads on most occasions.
Kotoko took advantage of their rivals’ lapses as they marauded into the Hearts’ half  – creating very decent chances.
On one such occasion, a good cross from the left was latched onto by Kwame Boahene but goalie Ben Mensah was at the right place with a timely save.
Again, Boahen who was a thorn-in-the-flesh of the Hearts defence, cut in brilliantly from the left side to deliver a thunderbolt strike which flew high.
Obed Owusu followed quickly with a sweet shot outside the 18-yard of the Phobians, however, Mensah was quick to parry it out of play.
The Fabulous lads seemed to be dictating the pace of play with some delightful passes and the forwardline of Adams, Owusu, Boahene and Gyamfi running at the Hearts defence in torrid fashion.
Hearts nearly got back into the tie in the 21st minute when right full-back Fatau Mohammed beat Amos Frimpong for pace to deliver a low cross into the Kotoko goal area but the rear men were quick to intercept the dangerous ball.
Just when the Rainbow Boys seemed to be warming their way into the game, they were dealt a blow  when the Porcupines were awarded a penalty  after Vincent Atinga pulled down the burly Adams after a quick free-kick converted by Gyamfi.
Adams stepped up for the kick and placed it beyond Mensah to cushion them into a 2-0 lead.
Immediately after the goal, Adams’ existence in the encounter was nearly marred after an aerial confrontation with Atingah left the forward man wincing and cringing. Luckily, he was resuscitated by the medical team to continue the game.
Adams, however, was to put the game beyond Hearts when in injury time of the first half, the slippery  Gyamfi  brilliantly outsmarted two opponents before laying a long one to Adams, who cheekily lobbed the ball over his marker  Atingah before rounding off Mensah and coolly placing the ball into a yawning net.
The goal sent the Red Army into ecstatic jubilation going into recess.
After the break, the Phobians tried earnestly to get back in to tie, with striker Kwame Kizito the lead actor.
Kizito’s early effort saw him firing a long ranger which like always flew high.
Dangerman Patrick Razak nearly reduced the Phobians’ deficit but after weaving his way through the Kotoko defence, his final shot was blocked to the frustration of the Hearts’ contingent.
Thomas Abbey, however, gave the Rainbow boys a glimmer of hope when he rose high to nod home a sweet cross from Fatau – leaving goalkeeper Felix Annan with no option but to stare as the ball crashed into the net.
The goal seemed to have propped the Phobian spirits as they rallied to get even, but wasteful strikes from Kizito ensured the game ended with the Red Army beating the Phobians for the second time this season.
This win confirms Kotoko’s superiority over Hearts in the FA Cup after their 4-2 thrashing of the Phobians was reversed via a boardroom decision in 1990.
A minute of silence was observed for former goalkeeper of both teams Soulama Abdoulaye who died 48 hours ahead of kick-off.
Yesterday’s win granted Kotoko the ticket to represent the nation in the CAF Confederation Cup, next year.

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