Match Report: Kotoko crowned MTN FA Cup champions
There were massive fireworks at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday afternoon as First Capital Plus League champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko grabbed the double they had been anticipating when they beat Inter Allies 2-1 in the final of the MTN FA Cup.
Goals from petit winger Richard Mpong and burly striker Seidu Bancey were all the Porcupine Warriors needed to secure themselves their first FA Cup title in four years after reaching the final on two occasions.
Asante Kotoko were missing the services of their head coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani, who was on national duty in the United States as a scout for the senior national team the Black Stars, which eventually saw assistant coach Michael Osei standing in for him as the head coach for the day as he was assisted by youth development coach Abdul Karim Zito.
It was Inter Allies who showed an early maneuver when forward Ndiaye Talla failed to convert a one-on-one attempt on goal against Asante Kotoko goalkeeper Joseph Addo just under 1 minute. Asante Kotoko quickly responded to the call when striker Abdul Aziz Yusif also blasted a shot wide from a nice flick-on by Seidu Bancey in the 3rd minute.
The Pocupine Warriors seemed to have settled in the game after Yusif’s attempt, as they started controlling the pace of the game, stringing their passes together excellently, and keeping Inter Allies on their toes as they kept shooting from afar and testing the goalkeeper in post for Allies, Osei Kwame. Yes! The goal was coming. The league champions controlled the game in for a 15-minute spell, and it came as no surprise when Richard Mpong (Pedro) capitalized on a defensive blunder by Allies defender Owusu Ansah, who tried to head the ball back to his goalkeeper only for the Kotoko winger to smash a powerful strike into the top roof corner of the goal to put his side ahead. The stadium went wild as Asante Kotoko supporters at the Popular Stand end of the field burst in jubilant mood.
Asante Kotoko still kept possession of the ball even after the goal. Things seemed not to be going well for Hebert Addo and his lads. The frustration was written all over his face, watching the astute Ghanaian tactician on the touchline. He might have been wondering whether Kotoko had an antidote to his tactics. The situation became worse when Richard Mpong nearly got his side’s second after he struck the ball from 25 yards only for Allies defender Baba Mensah to intervene in the 27th minute. It was all Asante Kotoko as their fans kept urging them on to get the second goal, singing their famous ‘Asante Kotoko Oseee Yeee!!!!’ song.
In the 32nd minute, Michael Akuffo, who had paired beautifully with Jordan Opoku in midfield, had his shot go over the bar. Again in the 40th minute, a perfect cross by Abdul Aziz Yusif from the right hand side of attack failed to reach anyone as the chance went begging. Inter Allies goalkeeper Osei Kwame was the only savior and bright spot at this moment as he kept his side in the game with some important saves. Akuffo’s long range shot in the 42nd minute went straight into the hands of the young goalkeeper.
The momentum in the game came down when there was a heavy collision between Asante Kotoko goalkeeper Joseph Addo and Inter Allies striker Sherrif Mohammed in the 44th minute. Kotoko defender Amos Frimpong had his header go wide in the 45th minute. After 45 minutes plus 3 minutes of additional time, referee William Agbovi blew his whistle to bring the first half to an end. Asante Kotoko obviously were the better side in the first department of the game.
Back from recess, Inter Allies raised their game as they pinned Kotoko in their own half. Yes! It seemed they were now heeding to the tactics of their head coach, as they piled on the pressure in the first 5 minutes of the second half. Hebert Addo pulled out defender Baba Mensah after the 21-year-old picked up a knock and brought on Burkinabe defender Dauda Diop. After some nice exchange of passes in front of the goal area of Asante Kotoko, Abdul Fatawu Safiu had his shot fly over the bar in the 51st minute. Acting coach Michael Osei also brought out goal scorer Richard Mpong for former FC Nania skipper Prince Baffoe in the 52nd minute after the former also picked up a knock.
Seidu Bancey secures double for Kotoko
An appeal for a penalty by the Kotoko fans could be loudly heard in the 53rd minute when Prince Baffoe took on Diop from the left flank only for Baffoe to be fouled in the box, an unclear situation though. A tough and bold decision followed as Agbovi whistled for a corner kick. Inter Allies finally got the equalizer in the 58th minute when Senegalese striker Ndiaye Talla powered in a shot from 16 yards to beat goalkeeper Joseph Addo to draw his side level.
The ‘Eleven is to One’ boys were back on track. The anxiety fell on the Kumapem lads as Inter Allies hoisted their impetus after that equalizer. Things were working for Hebert Addo and his boys now. Acting coach for the Porcupine Warriors Michael Osei brought on striker Isaac Boakye for Abdul Aziz Yusif, who had been kept out of the game in the second half.
There was another penalty appeal from Kotoko in the 66th minute as Seidu Bancey was held by Allies skipper Joseph Aidoo in the penalty box, but referee William Agbovi for the second time in the game had none of that as he urged play to continue. Asante Kotoko looked determined in the final 20 minutes of the game as they created some chances. After 3 minutes of additional time William Agbovi blew his final whistle to end proceedings.
The extra time was just balanced as both sides created opportunities in each half, but the moment of the game came just 5 minutes from time when Seidu Bancey tapped a rebound from close range after Inter Allies goalkeeper Osei Kwame failed to grab a Jordan Opoku shot to help the league champions secure their first double since 1935.
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