NEWLY APPOINTED assistant coach, Isaac 'Opeele' Boateng, was the centre of praise as Asante Kotoko returned to winning ways, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes to clinch a sweet 3-0 victory over Real Tamale United (RTU) in a Glo Premier encounter at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi last Monday night.
Kotoko had not won a match in the previous three outings and the appointment of coach Opeele last week might have done the trick for the Porcupine Warriors.
The bespectacled former Tema Youth head coach was continuously on his feet directing affairs from the touchline, and as Kotoko banged in the goals in the closing minutes, shouts of "Opeele, Opeele" resounded through the stands.
Substitute striker, Alex Asamoah, hit a brace, with lanky Stephen Manu scoring one to move Kotoko up to the second spot of the league, four points adrift of bitterest rivals, Hearts of Oak.
The game was laced with superstition. The two sides started with ten men as Toffik Alolo of RTU and Kotoko's Francis Coffie sat on the touchline waiting for the other to enter the pitch first.
This went on for seven minutes before Coffie finally made his way to the pitch, followed by Alolo. It was a difficult task for Kotoko who found in RTU a huge opposition in the first half of the game. A back line of Peter Yakubu, Adam Baba Tahiru, Mohammed Baker and Kwame Adzagba showed great courage and resilience after an initial pressure on the visitors’ defence. Having kept the Kotoko attack at bay, the action remained in the middle with RTU slightly on top.
The first clear opportunity fell to Stephen Manu who, after treading his way into the RTU box, only ended up with a weak final delivery.
As the minutes ticked away in the first half of the game, it became clear that Kotoko would have to dig deep into their tactical arsenal to overcome RTU.
Alex Asamoah was introduced into the game on the 45th minute, replacing Louis Quainoo, and his inclusion, with that of Louis Agyemang on the 68th minute brought life into the Kotoko attack in the second half.
Just two minutes after Agyemang came on he headed a cross into the path of Asamoah who connected with a low left footer, the ball hitting the post before rolling into the net past the impressive keeper Charles Kipo. Stephen Manu was on hand on the 81st minute to double the score for Kotoko, rounding a defender before placing the ball past advancing keeper Kipo.
Ear-piercing shout greeted the goal and the RTU defence looked disabled, allowing Kotoko to dance around with the ball. The growing pressure triggered persistent breakdowns at the RTU back and the third goal from a brilliant Asamoah 30-yard sizzler typified the traditional fighting spirit of the Porcupine Warriors.