THE professional competence of the Ashanti Regional Police was in full glow at the Baba Yara Stadium last Sunday when they averted what could have been a nasty incident, with Referee S. B. Bortey at the centre of vilification and imminent attack.
A technically-disciplined Hearts of Oak descended on Baba Yara Stadium to inflict a painful 1-0 defeat on Asante Kotoko in a Glo Premier League match to secure a season’s double over the Porcupine Warriors as striker Samuel Afum celebrated the unique feat of procuring the vital strikes that nailed Kotoko over the two legs.
But many of the home supporters — still remembering the 2006/07 era when Hearts last secured a double over Kotoko in Cape Coast when the Accra and Kumasi stadia were under refurbishment — were strangely not happy, accusing Referee Bortey of aiding Hearts’s victory.
With bagged-water and other missiles flying from the Amakom end of the stands onto the tartan tracks in rapid succession, the police moved in quickly to position a water cannon in front of the fans, which eventually kept them at bay.
Perhaps anticipating that the police could use the water cannon against them, some of the fans deserted the stands long before the match ended.
It all started when Referee Bortey showed Kotoko’s Stephen Manu the yellow card before the start of the game after the striker entered the Hearts post to shake the net.
Boos rung around the stadium and when on the 43rd minute Referee Bortey awarded that decisive penalty to Hearts, the fans went mad, throwing bagged-water from the stands.
Kotoko’s defender, Isaac Owusu, tripped Eric Gawu in the box resulting in the penalty.
After the match, police once again did extremely well to escort the referee into the changing room before he was whisked away from the stadium under tight security.
But Kotoko management member, Jarvis Peprah, was not happy about the manner Referee Bortey was taken to the Kumasi Airport to board a plane to Accra.
He told the Graphic Sports that they had reports that Referee Bortey was driven to the airport in the company of a Hearts official and some security personnel and, therefore, called on the Professional League Board to investigate the allegation.
The Kotoko accusations and allegations notwithstanding, they must be ready to admit that the team lacked the fighting spirit to overpower Hearts.
Kotoko had an attitude problem on the afternoon — they had no killer instincts to get the game away and were not spiritually tuned-up for the game.
With no power to go for the kill, the Kotoko attack wandered in the opponents half unable to unlock the Hearts defence, and even when Stephen Manu was on his own in the area with an opportunity to get his team back in stoppage time, he drove his shot wide.
Hearts of Oak has a unique character of playing at the apogee of their spirits whenever they meet Kotoko in Kumasi and this helped to catapult them to that sweet victory over Kotoko last Sunday.
Even when the game heated up and began to be played at a fast and furious tempo, they appeared to be ahead of Kotoko in real character, tackling where necessary and clearing their lines with supreme confidence while they went for the fast breaks.
Samuel Afum who fetched the only goal was very slippery on the day while the Hearts middle was well oiled with the presence of Esme Mends, Kofi Abanga and Obed Ansah.
The injury of Kotoko’s promising defender, Gideon Baah, was the other dark spot of the game. Baah went down awkwardly on the 13th minute after a tango with Samuel Afum and it looked like a serious injury.
Doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, however, have indicated they can handle the case but it is not known for how long the player would be off the scene.