Tuesday, July 29, 2008


THE ultra-modern Baba Yara Stadium suffered the first act of vandalism last Sunday when, unable to withstand the pain of bowing out of the CAF Confederation Cup after playing so well, players of Libya's Al-Ittihad went wild and destroyed facilities at the dressing room.
An LG television set, the sink and an electric duct were vandalised in a fit of rage.
A source at the National Sports Council (NSC) told the Graphic Sports that officials of A-Ittihad duly signed documents accepting responsibility for the destruction. However, payment of the cost of damage would have to be handled at the diplomatic level.
Consequently the NSC in Kumasi would officially write to the Ghana Football Association today for the necessary action to be taken.
It all started when referee Tralousi Abuaz brought proceedings to a close, and Asante Kotoko qualified for the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Kotoko won 3-1 in a tight second leg game, qualifying on a 4-3 aggregate, and players of the Libyan team turned their fury on the referee and his assistant, Mr Maloukhi, for what they perceived to be biased officiating against them.
One policeman who was amongst others protecting the match officials from the angry Al-Ittihad players was also not spared as he received a slap from a player.
The police gave the offending player a chase with a view to arresting him, but he dribbled everybody to enter the tunnel leading to the dressing room after which the destruction started.
Al-Ittihad claimed the first goal scored by Kotoko's Eric Bekoe was from an offside position, whilst the 54th minute disallowed goal by striker, Walis, was a perfect one and should have been made to stand.
On the strength of the performance Al-Ittihad put up, they believed that they did not deserve to lose but they should be the first to admit that they played against a side with a traditional fighting spirit, which sometimes confounds human understanding. It was a very difficult and close match, but with thousands of their supporters cheering them on it was difficult for Kotoko to succumb to the Al-Ittihad threat.
Coach Johnson Smith said "Al-Ittihad came with a plan to disorganise our game, but we had other ideas and I'm happy that the fighting spirit and tactical discipline prevailed".
Kotoko clearly deserved to be ahead in the early minutes when they opened fire from all fronts, with Francis Coffie in fantastic shape.
And when Bekoe scored that classic goal by racing into the path of a long ball to beat the impressive Libyan national keeper, Samir Abbud, many believed it was going to be "cool chop'.
But the fight back was great from Al-Ittihad who ,even though went down 2-0 after 62 minutes, managed to pull one back with just ten minutes to go, only for Bekoe to win the day for Kotoko from the penalty spot in the 97th minute.
Clearly, the absence of Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, Samuel Inkoom and Harrison Afful affected Kotoko, but the experience of Godfred Yeboah at the back was great.
Kotoko need to work hard as they enter the group phase where they meet crack sides JS Kabylie of Algeria, El-Merrick of The Sudan, and Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in their group.
Meanwhile, Al-Ittihad had lodged a protest with CAF against the fielding of Godfred Yeboah in last Sunday's match.
They claimed the player who was transferred from Kotoko to Wa All Stars in the middle of the Ghanaian league was not registered again by Kotoko and was therefore unqualified to play.

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