By Gideon Boakye Botwe, Nairobi, Kenya
Asante Kotoko came away with a Confederation Cup draw in Kenya against Kariobangi Sharks at the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi, on Saturday.
Both sides could not score in the second preliminary round’s first leg fixture, setting the stage for a pulsating encounter in the second leg slated for the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Saturday.
Asante Kotoko requires a win to progress to the third elimination round while Kariobangi Sharks need a scoring draw to also keep afloat.
Duke Abuya recorded the game's opening chance in the 13th minute when he ran through the middle to strike from 25 yards, but his effort was easily dealt with by Felix Annan.
A minute later, Abdul Ganiyu almost turned the ball into his own net as he tried to cut away an incisive through pass from Vincent Wasambo, but keeper Felix Annan, once again, proved alert.
Asante Kotoko failed to snatch the opener in the 19th minute when Emmanuel Gyamfi made a decent run into the box from the right, only for his cut back to be cleared to safety.
Asante Kotoko recorded another chance in the 30th minute when Maxwell Baako’s free kick, from the right, was nodded into Martin Antwi’s direction at the edge of the six-yard box, but the midfielder's attempt was collected by Brian Bwire.
Emmanuel Agyemang Badu made a timely intervention, two minutes later, by clearing James Mazembe’s effort off a Harrison Mwendwa cross from the goal line.
Martin Antwi had another chance, three minutes to the break, when he pounced on Emmanuel Gyamfi’s cross to head over the bar.
The second half was more balanced despite having minimal scoring chances, as the two sides changed personnel with Yacouba Songne coming on for Naby Keita with Sharks bringing in Henry Juma for Mazembe.
Sharks’ coach Muluya later brought on Moses Mwangi for Wasambo in an attempt to give his side some bite up front, but Asante Kotoko looked livelier following the introduction of Songne Yacouba.