Referee Wiliam Abgovi and his assistants Dawood Ouedragaogo and Badiu Alhassan had to call off Sunday’s GHALCA President Cup between Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak -due to a heavy downpour which rendered the Babayara pitch very soggy.
The high tempo game – with every minute thrilling – between the Porcupine Warriors and the Phobians was tied at 1-1 as at the 68th minute when the referees decided against the continuation of the game which was being watched by the vice -president of the republic of Ghana – HE Mahamudu Bawumia – who represented the government.
Even in terms of the intesnity, football quality and competition from both sides and the attendance, this rained-off President Cup – rivals or even better than the last African Cup of Nations qualifier between Ghana and Ethiopia who conceded 5 goals without creating a single scoring chance in Kumasi coulple of weeks ago. Of course an African Cup qualifier, an international game, is more relevant and higher than the President Cup – but in terms of quality football offered by the two oppositions and crowd size, this GHALCA President Cup rivals the Ghana 5 Ethiopia 0 game and this is claimed by someone like me – who watched both games at the Babayara stadium.
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Obed Owusu forced a penalty from defender Richard Akrofi in the 25th minute and striker Sadick Adams scored the second goal of his Kotoko career – all coming from penalties with the first one coming against Aduana Stars in a league game at the same Babayara but Hearts of Oak would equalize through giant center back Vincent Atingah in the 51st minute.
Steve Polack’s side brought the game under their control and dictated how the tense Cup final should go with Jackson Owusu and Seth Opare steamrolling the middle of the pitch in a grand style as central defenders Awal Mohammed and Ahmed Adams did their job at the back to render the Hearts attack of Bright Lukman, Kwame Kizito and Cosmos Dauda ineffective with Cosmos and Lukman chasing shadows in the entire first half. For the former Ebusua Dwarfs striker Lukman, coach Henry Wellington had to bundle him out after 33 minutes for Patrick Razak – who immediately impacted in Hearts of Oak’s game with his swift forward runs and clever through balls.
The first half belonged to Asante Kotoko but Henry Wellington’s dressing room courageous and corrective talks to his Hearts of Oak charges seemed to have worked as the Phobians lifted their game in the second half leading to their equalizer.
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Center back Robin Gnagne charged from the back through the middle to take on the Kotoko defence on a great solo run that resulted in a corner kick from which the Phobians drew level. Winger Razak delivered the corner kick and it was the tallest Atingah – aided by his natural height – that rose the highest to head home the equalizer becoming the first player to cancel a Kotoko lead under new manager Steve Polack. No team has ever equalized against the Porcupine Warriors under Steve Polack this season- Hearts of Oak became the first side to do – but that will not count as the game could not be completed due to the rains.
Meanwhile Malik Akowuah didn’t impress in a midfield that had Jackson Owusu, Seth Opare and Leonard Tawiah. Jackson and Leonard run the midfield the biggest – in my view. Solidity. Command. Intelligence – they served them all to the more than 30 000 people that filled the stadium.
The rescheduled game will kick-off at 3pm on Monday at the same venue and according to GHALCA – the organizers of the President Cup – the tickets prices for today’s game go for 5 Ghana Cedis and 10 Ghana Cedis and the clubs will take 35% each of the gate proceeds of Monday’s clash.