KUMASI Kumasi Asante Kotoko exhibited a highly determined performance to lift the Tier 1 Normalization Committee Special Competition Cup when they beat visiting Karela 4-1 on penalties at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday.
By the hard-fought win, Kotoko have earned the rights to represent the nation at the CAF Champions League.
Yesterday’s match ended a goal apiece after fierce 90 minutes duel that saw the Reds showing off their penalty prowess when Abdul Ganiu, Daniel Darkwa, Abdul Fatawu Safiu and Naby Keita beautifully converted their kicks with Karela’s Godfred Agyemang Yeboah securing the only one for his side.
Karela were a delight to watch as they managed to hold the Asanteman lads in their own half with stupendous interpositional passes and swift runs but were found wanting upfront with speed star Patrick Yeboah messing up golden opportunities.
The visitors found their rhythm in the second half and Emmanuel Osei Baffour made Kotoko to face a daunting task by poaching a 49th minute opener.
Kotoko shook off the dizziness and pressed on hard when Jordan Opoku and Kwame Bonsu were replaced with Kwame Boahen and Collins Ameyaw who appeared to pump heat into the game.
The hosts came close to cancelling the deficit but Emmanuel Gyamfi’s drive hit the keeper and ball bounced back into play but the resultant pile-driver from Abdul Fatawu Safiu was cleared from the line in the 55th minute.
However, on the 73rd minute, Referee Latif Adaari awarded a controversial penalty to Kotoko after Abdul Fatawu Safiu missed an opportunity and fell in the box.
Fatawu elected himself for the spot-kick and knocked home the equaliser which was celebrated wildly by the pet crowd.
Best of the afternoon was at this juncture as both teams lifted up their game but could only settle for 1-1 – giving way to the penalty shoot-out to determine who lifted the trophy.
Kotoko pocketed GH¢200,000 for their efforts, whilst Karela walked away with half of the cash.
FROM KINGSLEY E. HOPE