By Gideon Boakye Botwe
The Porcupines put up a feisty show at the Baba Yara Stadium on Sunday to beat Etoile du Sahel 2-0 in the first leg of the second elimination round of the CAF Champions League.
It was a furious first half, which saw them do damage to the Tunisians, jumping into lead in the 3rd minute through Augustine Okrah, whose sumptuous free-kick set the stadium agog before Richard Arthur’s 55th second minute goal sealed the vital home win.
It was a dream start as Augustine Okrah gave indications of what was to come. Emmanuel Gyamfi weaved through two markers but he was hacked down on the edge of the box as he dangerously stormed the penalty box. Okrah went for the kick himself. He beautifully buried the ball into bottom left corner of the net. The crowd were ecstatic.
Etoile seemed troubled by Kotoko’s combination of speed, precision and the attacking guile backed by a loud noise from the thousands of fans. Etoile rarely probed.
They were confined to their own half for the most part of the game. Jordan Opoku forced a save from the Etoile’s goalkeeper in the 11th minute and Empem Dacosta's strike to the rebound went off target.
The visitors waited till the 15th minute before they registered their first highpoint, a corner kick by Ben Firaz which was ably dealt with by Agyemang Badu. Emmanuel Gyamfi had a penalty denied in the 40th minute after an unfair challenge on him inside the box, having weaved through two markers.
The winger opened the second half with a solo move that saw him outwit three markers and to release Richard Arthur, who went for a first-time kick only to fire off target.
The second goal was more of a team effort but the tenacity of Richard Arthur was admirable. Augustine Okrah's corner kick was punched inside. Agyemang Badu returned the ball to the Etoile’s box with a through pass midway inside the visitors' centre-half.
Arthur’s control of the pass was apt and his curler into the right bottom corner of the net pleasantly fortified Kotoko’s desire to win. Songne Yacouba replaced Richard Arthur in the 55th minute to the delight of the cheering fans who had not seen the Burkinabe in action for months.
Haz Hassen burst forward in the 65th minute but he could not do more than a pathetic stray shot. Emmanuel Gyamfi picked up a knock. He was replaced by Kelvin Andoh in the 78th minute, two minutes after which Agyemang Badu headed a dangerous cross from the goal area.
The impressive George Abege shot wide in the 81st minute much to the disappointment of the expectant crowd. Abege had gorgeously beaten his markers and with Yacouba well placed and waiting to pull the trigger, Abege fired a shot, which went woefully wide. Songne Yacouba blew Kotoko's last chance as he hit wide from a free-kick at the edge of the box.