Substitute Yakubu Mohammed was the hero of the day, as his late penalty in a game of missed penalties gave Kotoko a narrow 1-0 first-leg advantage over CARA club of Congo in the CAF Confederation Cup first round game.
Asante Kotoko started the stronger of the two sides and mounted pressure on the CARA defence immediately from kick off. Emmanuel Gyamfi won two quick corners which were both wasted.
Within the first 5 minutes, Kotoko had pinned CARA back and the constant pressure resulted in the first major incident of the game on 7 minutes.
Kotoko were awarded a penalty after a CARA defender handled the ball in the area. Sadick Adams, playing his first competitive game since the FA Cup final, stepped up and put his effort well wide from 10 yards.
The missed penalty appeared to have taken some momentum away from Kotoko as they struggled to create any clear-cut chances despite dominating possession. Sadick Adams shot a free-kick wide before Wahab Adams put a wild effort into the stands.
Kotoko found their rhythm again on the half-hour mark with Eric Donkor’s free-kick flying inches wide before Kwame Boahene’s super20-yard strike was tipped into the crossbar by Massa Chancel in the CARA goal.
But Kotoko’s incessant attacks almost cost them as Thouey Rox snuck in between Adams and Nafiu, raced into the penalty area and unleashed a carpet strike that seemed destined for the bottom left corner. But Felix Annan stretched full length to push it out with aplomb.
On the stroke of half-time, Amos Frimpong latched onto a loose ball from Baba Mahama’s corner but his effort was cleared off the line.
It summed up a frustrating first half for the Porcupine Warriors as CARA headed into the break the happier of the two sides.
The second half began much like how the first ended with Kotoko dominating without really created chances. On the 60th minute, Kotoko were awarded a penalty again after Kwame Boahene’s quick feet proved too hot to handle by Filanckembo Lopez who hacked him down on the box.
Captain Amos Frimpong stepped up, and put a feeble effort down the bottom right corner which Chansel collected without sweat. The fans were now truly in disbelief. They were convinced it was not their day.
Moments later, Kotoko were awarded a third penalty, won by Kwame Boahene again. Baba Mahama elected himself and put it straight into the arms of Chansel. The disbelief had now reached monumental levels as Kotoko fans began to boo their own players.
But it could have been worse as CARA were given a penalty after Wahab Adams pulls down Espoie in the box after CARA broke forward. Chansel, who had saved 2 Kotoko penalties and was now full of confidence, chose to take it, but Felix Annan was not to be outdone as he saved brilliantly to his left.
Kotoko were desperately in need of a spark as coach Steve Polack brought on attackers Obed Owusu, Yakubu Mohammed and Sarfo Gyamfi for the ineffective Jordan Opoku, Eric Donkor Connor and Emmanuel Gyamfi respectively.
With six minutes of injury time left to play and Kotoko were awarded their third penalty and the fourth of the match. Yakubu Mohammed stepped up and smashed it past the keeper to give Kotoko a needed 1-0 victory ahead of the second leg in Brazaville in 10 days time.
By: Fentuo Tahiru/citifmonline.com/Ghana