Cameroonian import, Franck Etouga Mbella added Accra Hearts of Oak to his victims when he powered home a 17th minute penalty to give the Kumasi Asante Kotoko the bragging rights over their Phobian rivals in a crunch Ghana Premier League (GPL) week 24 clash at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium that end 1-0, yesterday.
With a first round league draw followed by a 2-1 to lift the President Cup this year, Hearts beamed with confidence ahead of the game with high hopes of repeating the dose in front of their home crowd.
But that hope disappeared after Kennedy Joseph Paddi pointed to the spot when Fabio Gama went down under a challenge from Hearts defender, Abdul Aziz Nurudeen.
Yet to score against Hearts, Etouga slotted home with aplomb to send the Reds following into raptures.
In what became Coach Samuel Boadu’s first defeat to Kotoko, Hearts struggled from the start; lacking rhythm while Kotoko dominated and nearly snatched the opener but Imoro Ibrahim watched in awe as his shot missed narrowly.
There was then nothing to separate the two teams until the 17thminute when Kotoko got the leader from the spot; a decision Hearts vehemently protested but Paddi stood to his decision.
That was after Fabio Gama dummied two defenders and run into a challenge with Nurudeen from which Gama went down.
In the second half, the intensity gauge was ramped up.
Hearts applied constant pressure in the second half but failed to break down a defence marshalled by Imoro Ibrahim and Mubarak Yussif.
Hearts brought on Patrick Razak, Samuel Inkoom, and Kofi Kordzi for Gladson Awako, Isaac Mensah, and Salim Adams respectively butit was Kotoko that had an opportunity to increase the tally but Fabio Gama fired off target after he was teed up by George Mfegue in the 68th minute.
George Mfegue missed another Kotoko chance in the 77th after which they resorted to delay tactics.
Hearts staged a late rally with Patrick Razak threatening with his speed but Kotoko stayed compose at the back to thwart the efforts of the Phobians.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI