Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
EVEN with 10 men, Kumasi Asante Kotoko were strong enough to button the mouth of coach Isaac “Opeele” Boateng who had vowed all week to lead “a hungry” Tema Youth to feast on the Porcupine Warriors at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
Opeele, who kept shouting from the line, could not believe his eyes when Kotoko fetched the second goal in the 78th minute.
The coach, who nearly engaged Kotoko’s team manager, Opoku Afriyie, in fisticuffs during recess, mustered courage and walked towards scorer Eric Bekoe who now has 11 goals in 10 games, to hug him for scoring with that brilliant header.
With the stadium about 80 per cent full, Kotoko were in high spirits when the game got underway.
Kwabena Yaro was presented with the first opportunity to open the scores for Kotoko but his free header went wide in the 10th minute.
Fierce action prevailed in the middle with Kotoko’s Jordan Opoku, Nii Adjei and Osei Kuffour fighting it out with Sakyi Quaye, Bernard Akuffo and Emmanuel Nuhey.
Persistently, Tema Youth’s leading marksman Ekow Benson was kept at bay on the right of attack by Kotoko’s Osei Kwame, and it became difficult for the visiting team to find a way through the Kotoko back line.
Kotoko opened the scores after 18 minutes through Osei Kuffour who connected a corner kick past keeper Ernest Sowah from close range.
Tema Youth devised a strategy to mark out Bekoe and once the striker was disabled the entire Kotoko attack became redundant.
FIFA referee Alex Quartey sent off skipper Osei Kuffuor in the 52nd minute after judging him to have violently charged on Sakyi Quaye. The huge home crowd was not happy and booed the referee for this decision.
But the numerical disadvantage brought even the best out of Kotoko as the attack-conscious Bashir Hayford sent on Ofosu Amoah and Nana Arhin Duah for Jordan Opoku and Kwabena Yaro respectively.
Kotoko pumped up in attack with Amoah initiating some terrific moves down the right flank.
It came as no suprise when they scored again in the 78th minute through Bekoe who sneaked from his markers to meet an Osei Kwame penetrating cross from the left.