Kumasi Asante Kotoko are through to the next stage of the CAF Champions League competition after beating Kano Pillars of Nigeria 2-0 at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday.
Richard Arthur’s opener in the third minute and Emmanuel Gyamfi’s sublime volley in the 80th minute ensured the Porcupine Warriors got the nod to battle Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in the next stage of the continental club competition. The victory enabled Kotoko to advance to the next stage on a 4-3 aggregate after they lost the first leg 3-2 in Nigeria a fortnight ago.
It took just three minutes for the home fans to begin the party when Arthur silenced their Nigerian counterparts with a wonderful goal. Kano Pillars had come with anticipation of pulling surprise on Kotoko but the early goal appeared to unsettle them as they were made to chase the shadows of the Garden City lads for most part of the first half.
Kotoko took the game to the Nigerians and dominated after the goal but were not clinical up front as they missed goal scoring opportunities. Sensing danger, Coach Ibrahim Musa varied his tactics by pulling out two full backs in the 30th minute after they showed little signs of containing the threat coming from Naby Keita and Emmanuel Gyamfi.
The substitution appeared to be the right decision as it helped the visitors to contain the pressure and launched some attacks against Kotoko. One of such attacks was in the 39th minute when Nyima Nwagua managed to beat the offside trap but the timely intervention by goalkeeper Felix Annan averted any havoc.
After recess the Nigerians maintained their tempo and made a number of incursions into the Kotoko goal area but the resolute defending by Habib Mohammed ensured they could not cause any trouble. In the 80th minute Kotoko got cushioned through Emmanuel Gyamfi who rifled from a close range into the roof of the net after Keita had chested the ball onto his path.
Kotoko tried hard for more goals which never came. They however felt cheated by Beninois referee Louis Djindo who disallowed two goals by Keita and Arthur for offside.
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