Reigning Ghana Premier League (GPL) champions, Asante Kotoko begun their CAF Champions League preliminary first leg campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso side RC Kadiogo at the Mathieu Kerekou Friendship Stadium in Cotonou, Benin, yesterday.
Youngster Isaac Oppong’s 92nd minute goal gave the Porcupine Warriors the advantage ahead of the return leg encounter in Kumasi in a week’s time.
Kotoko was wasteful in both halves but kept their composure and managed to seal the late victory with the hope of earning passage to the second round.
New signings Enoch Morrison, Steven Mukwala, John Tedeku and Georges Mfegue were handed starting berths by Coach Seydou Zerbo with youngster Isaac Oppong also making his return after a long-term injury.
The Porcupine Warriors dominated the early stages and went close to fetching the opener when skipper Richard Boadu passed to Richmond Lampteybut his final touch was blocked.
In the ninth minute, Oppong dribbled his markers to set up Mfegue who blasted the chance off target.
Kotoko had another chance in the 18th minute but again, Mfegue missed narrowly from Oppong’s low cross.
Despite the misses, the Ghanaians kept their composure and dominated play but the Burkinabes gave their opponents no room to operate at the back.
Kadiogo came close with two chances which were well dealt with by the backline to end the first half goalless.
Two minutes into the second stanza, John Tedeku surged forward and sent in a cross to Mfegue who dummied his marker but his strike lacked direction.
After 61 minutes, Samuel Boateng and Nicholas Osei Poku replaced the injured Richmond Lamptey and Steven Mukwala and the change nearlypaid off as Morrison shot at goal but that threat was saved by goalie Sawadogo.
As the Ghanaians mounted a sustained pressure, Kotoko found it difficult to beat Kadiogo’s goalkeeper as he saved Sheriff Mohammed’s header and a strike by Christopher Nettey in the 74th minute.
But Isaac Oppong found a way past the agile goalie when he struck from the penalty area in the 92nd minute to hand the Porcupine Warriors the advantage.
BY LINUS SIAW NARTEY