Two-time African champions, Asante Kotoko S/C, coasted home to a 2-0 victory over visiting Etoile Sportive du Sahel of Tunisia in a first leg preliminary fixture of the CAF Champions’ League, at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi, on Sunday.
The Porcupine Warriors unsettled their opponents with a goal just under one-minute courtesy Augustine Okrah, whose freekick went straight into the net after Kenyan import, George Abege, was fouled outside the 18-yard box.
Etoile’s goalie, Makrem Bediri, had no answer to saving the well-taken kick, and from this time to the 15th minute, the homers kept the Tunisian goal area boiling with incessant pressure.
Kotoko were awarded another free-kick in a dangerous position in the 10th minute, but it was wasted for a welcome goal kick to the visitors.
Etoile’s skipper and midfield anchor, Zied Boughattas, combining effectively with Ben Aziza and Hamza Lahmar, worked tirelessly to take control of proceedings, and when they did, the Tunisians were propelled in search of the equalizer.
Bulky striker Maher Hannachi squandered some decent chances that fell on his path as he failed to punish the homers for sloppy marking in the 22nd and 32nd minutes.
Kotoko came back strongly into the game in the last ten minutes to end the first session.
In one of their quick counter attacks in the 35th minute, slippery Okrah had his well-taken shot hit the cross-bar much to the relief of the visitors.
Etoile’s Hannachi was booked for a yellow card offence in the 39th minute as the visitors became frustrated with the incessant pressure from the homers’ attacking trio of Okrah, Abege and Richard Arthur.
Kotoko, right from the second half, kept their composure, initiating most of their attacks from the midfield and flanks, which the visitors found difficult to cope with.
In the 55th minute, Kotoko’s Arthur scored the second goal for the Porcupine Warriors, and this development seemed to have dampened the spirit of the Tunisians as Kotoko took advantage to take control of the game.
The homers brought on Burkinabe import, Sogne Yacouba, for Arthur in the 63rd minute with the intent to reinforce the attack and cause more problems for the visibly tired Tunisians.
In spite of this, the visitors would defend gallantly to end the game with two goals deficit as they host the Ghanaian giants in Tunisia in the second leg.