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Sports News of Monday, 4 February 2019


Al Hilal 1-0 Kotoko: 10 things we learned

Asante Kotoko suffered a narrow defeat in Sudan to Al Hilal in their first game of the 2018/19 Caf Confederation Cup group stage.

Here are 10 things learned from the match.

1. Starting lineup for Kotoko draws no problems from me. CK went for continuity, and a solid set up: a 4-2-3-1 when attacking and 4-4-2 when without the ball.

2. With five nationalities in their XI, Hilal fielded no player shorter than 5ft 5, and their style of play utilized this height advantage. They came very well conditioned too and used their strength a lot.

3. It was clear from the onset that left back Faris Abdallah would be problematic for Kotoko, as he raided that side of the pitch with ease. Gyamfi must be dizzy by now.

4. Hilal switched fluidly from two forwards to three, with Mohamed Mukhtar, Idriss Mbombo and eventual scorer Waleed Bakhiet using their bulk and speed to great effect. This gave Emmanuel Badu and Abdul Ganiu issues all game long. It came as no shock when a seemingly harmless freekick into the box saw Mbombo and Bakhiet combine for the goal.

5. In truth, Kotoko did not play badly. Hilal were just...better. Man for man, only Richard Senanu, and Kwame Bonsu matched their opposition. Emmanuel Gyamfi had a so-and-so game. Amos Frimpong was solid.

6. The biggest issue today was the final ball. Time after time Hilal were there for the taking when Kotoko worked past the midfield, only for Maxwell Baakoh to be particularly wasteful. As we know, he is a fine player. Today, it seemed like a case of nerves at the 62,000 capacity stadium.

7. Sogne Yacouba, due to a lack of service had to drop in to collect balls himself, which left him frustrated early on. And when he did get the ball, he didn't do much with it.

8. First half ended Kotoko down, with the best chance being when they hit the woodwork. But they looked sprightlier in the second half, but still, Hilal dominant. At very few points did Kotoko have a sustained period of pressure.

9. CK's two subs (Stephen Nyarko and Prince Acquah) could not do much to wrestle control and improve things. Hilal were simply better on the day.

10. I'd give the whole Kotoko team a tentative 6/10, simply because they were let down by little things. No need to panic. It's the group phase and they can recover.