The Porcupine Warriors have been crashed out of the elite inter-club competition of the continent after being held by the Algerians at their own backyard on Sunday
A beautifully converted free kick by Akuffo late in the first half gave Asante Kotoko a good opportunity to qualify to the next stage, but a fatal lapse in concentration midway through the second half allowed the Algerians through, with Mohammed Derhag finishing off a beautifully crafted move to take the Algerians through on the away goal’s rule.
The game started with both teams on equal footing as Bejaia looked up for the task and took off on the front foot. Kotoko warmed back into the game but the Algerians still edged it and had the best chance of the first quarter of an hour but failed to convert after a mazy run into the Kotoko 18-yard area. Bejaia kept the edge in the game as Kotoko seemingly struggled to settle on the ball, giving it away cheaply on certain occasions. When they did manage to keep it though, they struggled to open up the Algerians with the final ball letting them down on a number of occasions. Bejaia continued to retain the upper hand in the tie but failed to capitalise on their edge and were duly punished deep into stoppage time of the first half. A free-kick from a seemingly harmless range was superbly curled home by Akuffo to give Asante Kotoko the lead.
Kotoko started the second half in better form as they seemed galvanised by the goal though Bejaia still kept themselves in the game. The Porcupine Warriors should have had a second on the hour mark but the Bejaia defence managed to get in the block twice in quick succession, first from Nti Boakye’s effort before Bancey’s effort was also blocked soon afterwards. Despite Kotoko’s improved performance in the second half their final ball was still largely lacking as they were reduced to shuffling the ball around in midfield.
Bejaia, however, kept themselves in the game and gave themselves the upper hand with a beautifully worked goal which was started and finished by Derhag who slotted past the goalkeeper after a beautiful one-two with Zeraiah. Kotoko looked to get straight back into the game but Bancey hit his effort straight at a defender when played in on goal in the 18-yard box.
Kotoko kept at it but failed to find a way through the resolute Bejaia defence with even Soulama Abdoulaye coming forward for a free kick late on but to no avail as the Algerian side held on to book a place with Esperance in the next round of qualifiers.