Defensive midfielder Caleb Amankwah shattered any hope of Kumasi Asante Kotoko having a field day after his superb header found the back of the net to score a deserved equaliser for his side who held Kotoko to a 1-1 draw in their top betPawa Premier League fixture at the Baba Yara Stadium yesterday.
Amankwah’s goal in the 87th minute gave visiting Hearts a valuable point and a lot to cheer about with after going down through a Yussif Mubarik’s strike in the 57th minute.
It was Kotoko first league game of the season and they managed to pick up a point in a clash that they had the upper hand and could have buried their opponents it the first half.
Coming into the game, both teams predicted victory to bring back the smiles on the faces of their supporters, especially for Kotoko, who had crashed out of the CAF Champions League at the hands of Rail Club du Kadiogo at the same venue the previous week.
Kotoko signalled their intention in the first minute of the match when Steven Mukwala nearly punished Hearts after their defenders failed to clear a back pass which fell in the path of the Kotoko striker. However, the resultant kick could not find the back of the net much to the surprise of the home supporters who filled the stadium in their numbers to give their team the maximum support.
The home side dominated the exchanges and created some decent chances in the first half but failed to punish the Phobians when it mattered most. Coach Seydou Zerbo’s side created not less than four clear goal scoring chances in the first five minutes as Kotoko had the game under their control which forced Hearts’ coach, Samuel Boadu, to make a double substitution in the 43rd minute, bringing on Enoch Asubonteng and Fatawu Mohammed for Isaac Mensah and Yakubu Zakari, respectively.
The Phobians raised their game in the second half but were held at bay by the strong defence of Asante Kotoko built around Mubarik and Richard Boadu. And aware of the possible ramifications of another loss, both teams kept the pressure on each other's defence with the hope of finding the net.
However, it was Kotoko which opened the scoring 12 minutes after recess after the Hearts defence failed to clear a free-kick which resulted in a goalmouth melee after goalkeeper Richmond Ayi had parried the ball and was on the floor. Mubarik, who was lurking in the goal area unmarked, pounced on the ball and placed it beyond the reach of Ayi.
Hearts were forced to wait until 30 minutes later before finding the equaliser through Amankwah who sneaked behind the Kotoko defence to head home a free-kick.
When referee Selorm Yao Bless brought the match to an end, it was the Phobians who went into wild celebration, led by Coach Boadu, who jumped and punched the air in ecstacy as though his side had won.