Ghana’s sole representative in CAF competitions this year, Kumasi Asante Kotoko managed to tame the free scoring Kariobangi Sharks to a 0-0 draw at the Moi International Stadium in Kasarani, Nairobi, Kenya.
The game that was mostly dominated by the East African side saw the Porcupine Warriors create less chances than they have managed in their previous friendly games especially against Inter Allies and Black Meteors of Ghana. The Kenyan-based team enjoyed much of the possession in both the first and second halves in a nearly empty stadium. But the resilient defense of Kotoko with the likes of Abdul Ganiu and Agyemang Badu tamed the visitors from putting the ball at the back of the Kotoko net.
Here are five things we learnt from the game.
- Not a perfect result for Kotoko ahead of the 2nd leg
It may look like a very good result for the Kumasi-based club ahead of the 2nd leg at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on 22nd December, 2018 however, the result is very tricky. This means that any form of draw in Kumasi may carry the Kenyans through which would be a disaster for the Fabulous boys. Similar result was recorded by Asante Kotoko in the CAF Champions League in 2013 against Algerian side, JSM Bejaia away but they were sent packing after the North African side recorded a 1-1 draw in Kumasi. The Porcupine Warriors must approach the 2nd leg with all seriousness and avoid conceding a goal at home.
2. Kotoko’s centre pair continue to impress
On a day where the lads controlled less periods of the game, it was the defense of the team that was in trouble. As part of soaking in the pressure, the centre pair of Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Abdul Ganiyu were phenomenal in helping goalkeeper Felix Annan keep a clean sheet away from home. Their composure and brilliant reading of the game prevented Sharks from threatening Asante Kotoko. The pair can go on to be one of the best centre pairs Kotoko have had in years.
3. Brilliant Substitutions By C.K Akunnor
It normally take brilliant coaches to make brilliant substitutions to change the phase of a game. C.K’s introduction of Sogne Yacouba and Daniel Nii Adjei for Naby Laye Keita and Martin Antwi respectively changed the performance of the team by far. It was evident that Naby Keita was having a difficult time alone up front against the defense of Kariobangi. Hence, Kotoko needed the presence of a fierce, strong and energetic man up front who could cause damage to the home. A combination of his physical strength and wonderful footwork brought balance into the game as Kotoko were now able to hold onto the ball longer. This was also achieved through the aid of the experienced Daniel Nii Adjei.
4. Richard Senanu Had An Unusual Day
Being touted as the Sergio Busquets of Ghana, Richard Senanu has been that guy who holds the midfield of Asante Kotoko like nobody’s business. However, it was a quiet day for the tall and calm Senanu. He was outsmarted and outplayed by a compact midfield of Kariobangi. Probably the weather conditions in Nairobi also played a part in the performance of the lads but we could have seen more and better display from the midfield maestro.
5. The Game Needs To Be Finished Early In Kumasi
With a very tricky aggregate results, The Fabulous boys would not want to risk and keep it late in Kumasi. The 2nd needs to be killed earlier in Kumasi to keep Kotoko in the control seat against Kariobangi Sharks. A team that has scored as many 9 goals in two Confed Cup matches would not be a side to joke with. All efforts must be put in place for the 2nd leg to be decided by end of the first half. Probably a 2-goal lead at the end of the first half won’t be a bad result to send Kotoko to the next round.