Returnee Kofi Kordzi and youngster Salim Adams scored late in the second half to give Hearts of Oak a resounding 2-0 victory over their Guinean counterparts Club Industriel de Kamsar in the first preliminary stage of the CAF Champions League played at the Accra Sports Stadium in the yesterday.
Despite playing in a virtually empty stadium due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it did not affect the competitiveness of the one-off tie.
Hearts started a bit defectively with faulty tackles and passes, but gradually grew in confidence – winning a few incursions upfront through Daniel Barnieh whose efforts were dealt with.
After 20 minutes of play, Kamsar goalie Damilola Sheyi was called to duty with a decent save to keep the scores intact after Isaac Mensah hit one inside the penalty box.
Minutes later, it could have been the opener for Hearts, but Emmanuel Nettey’s freekick missed narrowly.
The visitors brought on Mamodou Conde for injured skipper Claude Pascal Leno.
In the dying embers of the first half, Kamsar came close to breaking the deadlock with two scoring opportunities, but timely interceptions from centre back Mohammed Alhassan denied the away team.
Hearts’ safest pair, Richard Attah pulled a superb save to deny Mamodou Diallo only for centre-man Patrick Tanguy to signal for an offside to end the first half barren.
After recess, the Phobians relaunched and nearly fetched the opener but Salifu Ibrahim and Isaac Mensah blasted wide their chances.
Later, Coach Boadu introduced Enoch Asubonteng for Emmanuel Nettey to add more bite in midfield.
A quick interplay from Isaac Mensah found Daniel Barnieh who scored from close range but Ivorian referee again disallowed as an offside.
In the 75 minute, Salifu Ibrahim’s freekick hit the woodwork with Hearts still pressing for the opener.
Returnee Kofi Kordzi and Agyenim Boateng, both forwards, came on for Frederick Ansah Botchway and Isaac Mensah respectively. It was a magical change as Kordzi’s first drive was blocked by the defence of Kamsar.
With more options in attack, Hearts grabbed a well-deserved lead when Kordzi bent one into the top right corner with a powerful freekick in the 83th minute.
Another magical moment was produced when substitute Adam, who came on for Caleb Amankwah, made it two with a thunderbolt strike outside the penalty box in the 90th minute.
The victory propelled Hearts to the second preliminary stage of the CAF Champions League with a cracker against Moroccan giants Wydad Athletic Club in October.
BY LINUS SIAW NARTEY