RED-LETTER NIGHT: Kotoko Can Breathe Now


Twenty minutes in, it did feel like Asante Kotoko’s miserable spell of the past week had been extended and worsened by Hafiz Wontah Konkoni’s close-range header. Somewhere, Executive Chairman Kwame Kyei must have been drafting another earful for delivery to his ‘village’ players; perhaps the last, leaked to the media by unknown hands, hadn’t sunk down well enough.

By recess, though, Kyei would have had cause to rip it up, as Kotoko rallied to overturn the deficit. The pattern for the second goal borrowed from the first, almost to a tee. Released on the wing by sly passes, left-back Imoro Ibrahim hooked in crosses that Bechem United goalkeeper Prince Asempa — whose gloves, at least on this occasion, bore little in the way of glad tidings — palmed into the paths of Martin Antwi (who, this time, wasn’t left out until the second half as a pawn in some bizarre ‘power’ play) and Augustine Okrah.

Imoro, a December 2019 signing, saved the last word — a spectacular one — for himself early in a second half that had seen Kotoko throw it all at Bechem in a bid to wrap up the result quickly. Lively Justice Blay and William Opoku Mensah both struck the woodwork from far out, but Imoro’s freekick — bent from all of 24 meters — sailed right into the top corner. Game over, really, even with more than a third of the contest to go.

In just about an hour, Kotoko had scored thrice — as many as in their last six games in all competitions — and head coach Maxwell Konadu, who had had to field questions about his team’s struggles in front of goal, would have felt lots of relief.

”The issue of goalscoring has been a problem. We have been working very hard to solve the problem. 90% of our training this week has been on goalscoring; hopefully we will start scoring more goals in our subsequent games,” Konadu assured the media pre-match.

Image result for kotoko bechem united

Actually, there was enough relief to go around for everyone in Kotoko’s circles. The last few days have been tough on the club for all sorts of reasons, and despite playing this home match on adopted grounds, they had managed to make it count. Only once prior this season had Kotoko scored more than two goals in a game — another come-from-behind 3-1 victory on another Friday night on the same Accra Sports Stadium turf that served as altar for Bechem’s slaughter — but, for all that had preceded it, this version must have felt so much better. A video, of two crippled fans dancing in ecstasy on their crutches just behind the thick glass walls that seal off the terraces, summed up the feeling.

The win takes Kotoko joint-top on 21 points with regional rivals Ashantigold, but that might well change in a matter of hours when the three clubs immediately beneath them play their own Week 12 games. Still, Kotoko would have found the night pleasant, while wondering just how many more of this the season promises.

NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH

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