KPANDO Heart of Lions roared to a 2-0 victory over Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday to clinch their first SWAG/H.P. Nyemitei trophy on a 2-1 aggregate, having lost the first leg 0-1 at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra.
Lions took the shine off their big hosts in their backyard and burst into spontaneous jubilation when Togolese female referee Aiseata Amegee brought proceedings to an end.
It was a painful experience for the good number of Kotoko fans who had anticipated a win to assuage the pain of losing the Glo Premier league to arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak.
There was plenty of action in the match and it was the visiting team that showed class and deservedly carried away the magnificent trophy. The Lions threat started as early as the second minute when strong forward Mohammed Tanko strode into the box to fire at goal but Kotoko goalkeeper Isaac Amoako dealt with the challenge.
Abraham Annan followed up three minutes later with a curling free kick, and again Amoako was up to the task to hold the Kpando lads in check.
Lions never appeared to be in danger until Kwabena Yaro was handed a scoring chance but the striker wasted the opportunity.
Attempts by Lions to cut into the Kotoko defence from the flanks were occasionally thwarted by Kotoko’s young right back Godfred Saka and namesake Godfred Yeboah, while experienced defender Gabriel Opoku Ware, who was a guest player, also showed class in defence.
However, when in the 39th minute the visitors launched a ferocious attack on the right a goal looked imminent. Kofi Nti Boakye initiated the goal, feeding Annan on the left with an incisive pass, and the left-footed player swept past his marker before floating the ball into the box for Tanko to head home.
The stadium went dead silent and Kotoko knew their quest to win the cup was under severe threat.
The Lions back line of Kwaku Andoh, Joseph Jackson, John Kuffuor and Sheriff Danladi kept the Kotoko attack under tight security and stripped Stephen Manu and Louis Agyemang of their terror.
Kotoko regrouped after recess with renewed power and forced keeper Stephen Ahorlu to make some difficult saves in the early minutes of the half. But Lions refused to be tamed, instead emerging with a louder roar at their opponents repeatedly.
A double substitution by Kotoko after 58 minutes saw Stephen Oduro and Ofosu Appiah replacing Kwabena Yaro and Godfred Yeboah respectively, but the substitutes could hardly change the tide of game for Kotoko as their opponents took charge and began to run the show.
Again Boakye and Annan orchestrated the attacks from the wings and Kotoko seemed not to have antidote to the flank attacks. When it appeared the game was heading for a penalty shoot-out, Lions came up with other options to break the hearts of the Kotoko supporters.
Showing great strength and balance, Lions charged at Kotoko and with their defence split open, unmarked substitute Bright Nsiah strode into open space to finish off a through pass, with a goal that proved devastating for Kotoko and a historic feat by the Kpando lads.