Kumasi Asante Kotoko were profligate all afternoon and ultimately succumbed 1-3 on penalties in the second leg preliminary stage of their CAF Champions League competition against Burkina Faso’s Raila Club du Kadiogo at the Baba Yara Stadium, yesterday.
Kotoko’s defeat was a repeat of 1979 when Kadiogo eliminated them in the same manner during an African Winners Cup competition.
At the end of the 95 minutes of duel yesterday, the scoreline stood at 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
The first leg of the campaign saw Kotoko snatch a late winner when Isaac Opoku blasted home within two minutes of the added-on time in Benin, where the venue was rescheduled, after CAF rejected a pitch in Burkina Faso.
With that away victory on their mind, it was the expectation of their fans that the Porcupine Warriors would make a mince meat of their victims.
But an utterly baffling first half saw the visitors giving a pretty good impression of themselves with Dramani Kambou leading the onslaught and unbelievably breaking the hearts of the fans when his 30-metre free-kick deflected and zoomed into the net when the game was 15 minutes old.
That was after Kotoko’s Stephen Mukwala had messed up an opportunity in the 10th minute after dummying goalkeeper Babayoure Sawadogo.
The Ugandan import had taken a neat pass, raced deep into the vital area, swerved keeper Sawadogo, but failed in his early attempt to poke home the opener and later shot feebly into the keeper’s hands to the chagrin of fans.
The visitors – who appeared relaxed, came more into the game with Kambou combining effectively with Ziem Hien and Adramani Coulibaly to dictate the pace for the hosts.
There were several half-chances for the Porcupine Warriors with Samuel Boateng and Isaac Oppong drilling into the side net and floating an effort wide in the 35th and 40th minutes respectively, while Nicholas Osei Bonsu saw his drive deflecting past the post in the 43rd minute – ending the half.
The Asanteman contingent turned it up a notch after the break and two minutes on, Isaac Oppong had the opportunity to equalise but fumbled in the box.
Kotoko’s pressing was too much for the visitors who committed some blunders but all the three free-kicks just outside the box in the 62nd, 69th and 72nd minutes, were wasted with the fans yelling at them.
Substitute George Mfegue had the opportunity to put smile on the faces of the fans but his powerful header was too wide in the 84th minute.
With the scoreline locked at 1-1 on aggregate after 90 minutes, the anxiety of the host fans was growing with all indications pointing to a penalty shoot-out.
The visitors, perhaps, had confidence in the goalie and therefore, resorted to some delay tactics which saw Referee Patrick Philppe cautioning two of the players – Adramani Coulibaly and Abdoulaye Toure.
And as if by some design, Kadiogo’s goalie – Babayoure Sawadogo, rose to the occasion saving two of the spot-kicks from Nicholas Osei Bonsu and Enock Morrison, while Solomon Sarfo Taylor fired wide.
FROM KINGSLEY E. HOPE, KUMASI