Soccer-Kotoko in narrow win
Kumasi (Ashanti) , 3rd May ?99 ?
Kumasi Asante Kotoko scored a lone goal against El-Masry of Egypt in the one-eighth first leg Africa cup winners cup match played at the Kumasi Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The twice Africa champions were a pale shadow of their former selves as they played not only below form but left a question mark on their ability to go through to the quarter-final stage.
Kotoko played like an ordinary side, as they could not string their passes together and play as a team.
The sturdily built Egyptians frustrated Kotoko with their manly tackles and cautious approach to the game, at times slowing the game down to a walking pace.
El-Masry kicked-off forcing the first corner-kick under a minute as Kotoko looked unsettled but the Egyptians could not utilise it.
Kotoko hit back in the ninth minute as they went on the offensive earning a corner-kick in the process but the kick taken by inside right Mohammed Polo fell at the feet of wing-half Joseph Hendrick who shot off target.
Four minutes later, El-Masry?s defence was eclipsed and with the goalkeeper out of position, Adu-Poku had the easiest chance of putting his side ahead but his header missed the target.
After this, the Egyptians resorted to delay tactics and the Liberian referee, Somah Mambo, had to flash the yellow card in the face of outside-left Efat Hassan who delayed in effecting a throw-in in the 24th minute.
Kotoko went on the rampage in the 41st minute but the goalkeeper of El-Masry, Hassan Abdelaal sprawled on the ground to push Adu-Poku's shot to corner.
Kotoko brought in Emmanuel Ampiah for fullback Annor Kofi after recess but could still not lift their game up even though the Egyptians played on the defensive.
In the 49th minute Kotoko piled up pressure on El-Masry firing on all cylinders but the Egyptians blocked the shots by Adu Poku and Gordon Ablordey.
The Egyptians came under intense pressure in the 61st minute as George Arthur sliced through the defence and placed the ball on the path of Ernest Boateng who fumbled.
A minute later, George Arthur gave way to Kwaku Duah who failed to impress. Kotoko shot into the lead in the 69th minute when Adu Poku hit the back of the net after Gordon Ablordey mesmerised the defence and crossed almost on the line.
Cheered on by the crowd, Kotoko attacked boring holes in the Egyptian defence but the attackers wasted all the chances.
El-Masry made two changes in the 76th minute when Omar Gamal took over from Aki Gadalla and Mahmoud El-Hassan replaced Efat Hassan. Kotoko also brought in George Siaw for Ernest Boateng in the 78th minute, which brought bite into the attack but his colleagues could not utilise the chances he created.
The spectators filed out of the stadium moody as they reflected on Kotoko's chance in the second leg match in Cairo in two weeks time.
Line up: Kotoko: Constant Mantey, Annor Kofi/Ampiah, Samuel Bakai, Gabriel Opoku-Ware, Kalilu Dramani, Joseph Hendrick, Mohamed Polo, George Arthur/Kwaku Duah, Ernest Boateng/George Siaw, Adu-Poku, Gordon Ablordey. El-Masry: Hassan Abdelaal, Mohamed Abdu-Dahab, Ashour Hanoun, Anwar El-Dasourky, Hamad Ibrahim, Ahmed Nowafak, Aki Gadalla/Omar Gamal, Yasser El-Shanawan, Ahmed El-Sayed, Tamau El-Wahas, Efat Hassan/Mahmoud El-Hassan