On 7 December, 2002 Kumasi became a virtual cemetery when home side, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, lost the CAF Cup Winners Cup to Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco in the final match played in Kumasi.
Though Kotoko won 2-1 to bring the overall score to 2-2, the Moroccans won on the cup on the away goal rule. It was a total disbelief and consternation when Egyptian referee El-Ghandour blew his whistle to signify the end of the game as the supporters remained glued to their seats while the Moroccans jubilated.
In a match watched by Vice President Aliu Mahama in which Kotoko was expected to win to give Ghana her first win of the Cup Winners cup, the porcupine warriors disappointed their fans badly.
In losing the cup, Kotoko must blame themselves since they approached the match as if there was nothing at stake, especially during the first half.
They appeared sluggish and allowed the Moroccans a lot of room to manipulate and operate as they were faster and got all the 50-50 balls and virtually forced Kotoko to play to their style.
The first half was not particularly exciting but it was Wydad who threatened a goal in the 34th minute as Joe Hendricks cleared the ball off the itching foot of Kassab Boujemaa. Wydad whose defensive strategy in this half confused Kotoko, almost always took the ball away from the homesters anytime they entered the goal area.
However, in the 41st minute, Aziz Ansah’s throw in caught the Wydad defence off guard but Shilla Alhassan could not reach the ball as it was cleared by the defence. Two minutes later, Kwadwo Poku who was a virtual passenger had a through pass from Shilla Alhassan, but before he could get his foot to it the ball was cleared.
Kotoko who were gradually beginning to assert themselves, worked the ball into their opponents goal area in the 44th minute but Hamza Mohammed shot erratically with his left from Shilla’s pass.
With a possible defeat staring them in the face, Kotoko started the second half on a fast note and nearly got the opener in the 50th minute but the Wydad defence cleared the ball Goalkeeper Jarmouni Taril of Wydad was shown the yellow card in the 46th minute for hitting Aziz Ansah after both of them had jumped for a high ball.
Two minutes later, Kotoko earned a corner kick but wasted it. In another minute, goalkeeper Tarik denied Shilla Alhassan a goal when he tried to flick the ball past him.
Wydad nearly broke the hearts of the teeming Kotoko supporters when Erraji Mourad beat the offside trap and forced goalkeeper Osei Boateng to come out to challenge him but in the process he shot wide.
However, Kotoko were not to be denied a goal as Aziz Ansah shot his side into the lead in the 55th minute. Kotoko pulled out Kwadwo Poku in the 68th minute and brought in Frank Osei while Wydad also sent in Bahafid Omar for El Janab in the 74th minute.
These changes seemed to have benefited Wydad who equalised in the 75th minute through Talhar Moustapha from Kassan Boujemaa’s corner kick which he directed to the blind side of goalkeeper Osei Boateng.
Most of the fans became so downhearted after the equaliser that they started leaving the stadium knowing that the cup had eluded their darling club. However, Kotoko rallied round again and in the 84th minute, Michael Osei sent the fans jubilating again as he restored Kotoko’s lead and, with that, a ray of hope appeared that Kotoko could pull the chestnut out of the blazing fire. But their hopes were dashed as Kotoko could not find the third goal tried as they did.
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