Sports News of Sunday, 18 May 2003
Congolese referee Serge Bansimba last Sunday decided to come to the aid of his fellow French speaking team, Mont Cameroon when he awarded them a dubious penalty in the dying minutes of the match to earn them a face-saving 2-2 draw with Kotoko.
The occasion was the first leg match of the 29th edition of the African Cup Winners’ Cup competition, which incidentally marks the end of the Mandela Cup, as the competition would from next year be boxed into the Champions League.
The battle was at the Reunification Stadium in Douala, the commercial capital of Cameroon and it was a match the fabulous boys were so determined to win to properly usher the IMC into office. But the man at the centre together with his assistants Kimbatsa Robert and Richard Bounde scuttled their efforts at achieving that feat.
So determined were Kotoko that the frustrations they went through when the team arrived in Douala could not deter them from concentrating on the match. It was therefore not a surprise when the Porcupine Warriors went straight into business immediately the referee ushered the two teams into action. Shilla Alhassan robbed them of the ball, and made an inroad into the vital area of the Camerounians.
The Porcupine Warriors dominated the early stages, and it was just a matter of time before they found the net. Playing before a sizeable crowd with Ghanaian supporters singing throughout, Mont Cameroun found it difficult matching Kotoko and were rather at the receiving end.
Their defence collapsed due to the pressure from Aziz Ansah, Stephen Oduro and magical Ember Power, Michael Osei, last year’s top scorer. Within nine minutes into the first half, Michael Osei proved he could be lethal when he put Kotoko ahead. Kotoko earned a corner kick on the left side and as usual, midfield whiz kid, Stephen Oduro elected himself for the kick, and a well-positioned Michael Osei did not waste time when he connected home, goalkeeper Ekotop’s efforts at preventing the ball from going past him proved futile, leaving the ball to hit the upright before sailing into the net, and as the ball was dancing in the net, Michael Osei offered a remix version of his Mr. B dance.
The Camerounians took up the challenge and tried to equalize but were denied the chance by youngster, Michael Ofosu Appiah. Having escaped the scare from Mont Cameroun, Kotoko took control of the game with Shilla Alhassan and Michael Osei terrorising the defence of Mont Cameroun.
The Camerounians could hold their own against the terrorising Porcupine Warriors for only a short while as they caved in to their pressure again in the 17th minute when Ember struck again.
Goal architect, Stephen Oduro took the ball from the middle and laid a pass to Aziz on the right. The usually overlapping right full back characteristically horsed deep down the right flank, and spotting Michael Osei in a good position, he let go a neat cross, which the Ember Power, Michael Osei wasted no time at all to slot home to give the Porcupine Warriors the second goal.
Osei’s second goal gave Mont Cameroun a rude awakening, and they decided to carry the game to Kotoko but try as they did to reduce the tally, they found it rather difficult penetrating the ironclad defensive network put up by Joe Hendricks, Michael Ofosu-Appiah, Aziz Ansah, Daniel Acquah and Daniel Yeboah.
Still thirsty for goals, Michael Osei decided to go solo in the 25th minute but just when he inched himself within scoring range he was brought down in the vital area and the referee gleefully ignored the infringement.
With play swinging from one side to the other, Mont Cameroun initiated a move into Kotoko’s area but a yeoman’s job executed by Daniel Yeboah denied them a goal. The Kotoko defence failed to replicate what Daniel Yeboah did earlier when they failed to make a first time clearance of the ball and got punished for that when danger man, and skipper, Atem reduced the tally for the homesters in the 33rd minute.
Intelligent defender, Daniel Yeboah earned himself a yellow card later but that did not stop him from getting in the thick of events. With their pride badly punctured, the home team came into the picture in the second half but Hendricks and Ofosu Appiah always applied the brakes on them. With the game getting more difficult, coach Abdul Razak and his colleagues decided to bring on Kwame Adzagba and Nana Arhin Duah to strengthen the Kotoko set up. At that stage, the Porcupine Warriors had earned the support of the Camerounians who could not help applauding them whenever they made a move into the area of Mont. Louis Quainoo became an instant hero in the dying embers of the game when the tide turned against Kotoko as he on a number of occasions when Kotoko had their back to the wall, delved into his rich experience to save his side. No wonder he, together with Michael Osei became the toast of the Camerounians after the match, and received commendations from African football legend, Roger Milla.
With the game trudging to an end, the Camerounians turned their Ghanaian opponents into objects of rough play but the referee gaped on without any caution. That subtle endorsement of the Cameroonian rough play broke Kotoko’s midfield, forcing the defenders to commit blunders. They must however be commended for putting up a strong fight against biased officiating for a greater part of the game.
But unlike last year when they had the last laugh against Angolan side, Athletico Sonangol against a run of biased officiating, the Porcupine Warriors were this time denied any laughter as the Congolese referee decided to please his French brothers in the dying minutes of the game when he awarded them a penalty, which was converted by Ade to bring them on level pegging with Kotoko. Although the game ended 2-2, the Porcupine Warriors forcefully drummed home a point that they are a great side on the continent.
Kotoko Line Up: Louis Quainoo, Aziz Ansah, Michael Ofosu Appiah, Daniel Acquah, Joe Hendricks, Daniel Yeboah, Stephen Oduro/Kwame Adzagba, Michael Asante, Edmund Owusu-Ansah/Joe Louis, Shilla Alhassan/Nana Arhin-Duah.
Unused reserves: George Owu, Isaac Owusu, and Frank Osei.