Kumasi Asante Kotoko lifted the President’s Cup back-to-back at the expense of their arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak after beating them 4-1 on penalties in a replay final at the Baba Yara Stadium on Monday.
The two teams drew 0-0 during regulation time but Kotoko converted four of their spot kicks as against one by Hearts to at least avenge for one of the two defeats suffered at the hands of their rivals.
It took up to 30 minutes for fans to be served with what normally characterises such a big game despite Kotoko’s first half slight dominance. By the 34th minute, the tempo had risen to an exciting level despite the average attendance at stadium.
Yakubu Mohammed’s wasted opportunity and Patrick Zarak’s close shave brought the stadium alive as fans of both sides roar for the opener in an end to end action.
The two presented little variation in both set up and in tactics but unlike the first leg which Kotoko’s Obed Owusu and petite Emmanuel Gyamfi had a field’s day, they were heavily policed by Robin Gnagne and Vincent Atinga.
But Referee William Agbovi’s inconsistency as demonstrated last Sunday was very prominent Monday when instead of showing Kotoko’s goalkeeper Felix Annan the red card for coming outside the goal area to impede Hearts’ striker Kwame Kizito in the 29th minute, leniently handed him a yellow card.
Kizito never recovered from the clash and his place taken by Paul Acquah. And the tide changed dramatically in the last five minutes in favour of Hearts but failed to score.
Eight minutes into the second half, Yakubu Mohammed’s misjudgement denied Kotoko the opener from an in swinger from the right side of attack.
The game degenerated into intermittent rough play leading the injury of Kotoko’s stalwart defender, Ahmed Adams whose place was taken by Richard Osei Agyemang in the 60th minute.
Kotoko’s Gyamfi who had been policed all through broke through momentarily in the 62nd with an individual amazing solo taking on virtually the entire defence of Hearts but instead of shooting at goal, he decided to lay on a pass which was intercepted.
Kotoko again were unlucky to have gained the upper hand in the 66th minutes when Baba Mahama’s final delivery in front of goal grazed the upright and the rebound shot by Gyamfi was thwarted.
There was drama in the 72nd minute when substitute Saddick Adams who had come on for Yakubu mohammed turned the pitch into a boxing arena and pounced on defender Atinga for a reckless tackle.
Holding his foot in pain, the bulky striker stepped on Referee Agbovi and run towards Atinga to retaliate.
But Agbovi again surprised the fans when rather than cracking the whip he appeared to be calming down the striker for the tackle.
The referee’s action emboldened the players to indulge in one reckless tackle to the other.
Kotoko pressed from then on with incessant pressure but lacked the cutting edge to score. Hearts were put on back foot with 10 minutes to end the match and were lucky to have survived the regulation time.
The annual President Cup is played to celebrate Ghana’s republican status gained in 1960 from the British Colonial rule.