Asante Kotoko defeated Congolese side CARA Brazzaville 1-0 in the first leg of the Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Steve Polack made two changes to the Kotoko squad that lost 1-0 to Aduana Stars in the Ghana Super Cup a fortnight ago, with Baba Mahama and Eric Donkor replacing Obed Owusu and Augustine Sefa respectively.
The Porcupine Warriors had the first opportunity at goal by the fifth minute after Donkor saw his effort blocked by Ikouma Epoyo before Danga Bossina Guy cleared the resulting corner-kick out of danger.
The Kumasi giants were handed the opportunity to put their noses in front two minutes later when Bossina handled a shot from Sadick in the box. However, the former Atletico Madrid youth star failed to hit the back of the net from the spot.
On 25th minute, CARA had their first chance through a free-kick following a tackle from Kotoko's centre-back Awudu Nafiu, who received the first caution of the game. Oyoh Thouey Rox’s free-kick floated wide.
By the 32nd minute, Kwame Boahene saw his curled effort outside the box of CARA crash against the post before Okiele made a goal line clearance to deny Donkor the opener.
After the break, CARA coach Ossiete Roger brought on Mbangou to strengthen his midfield and rely more on counterattacks. The youngster’s first touch almost gave the visitors the lead, as it went past Awudu Nafiu but saved by goalkeeper Annan.
On the 55th minute, referee Issa Sy pointed to the spot to give Kotoko their second penalty of the day after Kwame Boahene was brought down by Bomanyae Liema Dicha. Sadick stepped up once more to execute the kick but captain Amos Frimpong took the ball from him and also saw his spot kick saved by goalkeeper Massa Chansa. Two wasted opportunities.
Thirteen minutes later, Kotoko were awarded another penalty when Boahene was tripped in the box. Baba Mahama failed to transform, once again.
Substitute Mbangou combined with Kivutuka Cabwey to launch a quick counterattack by the 71st minute and the latter was fouled in Kotoko box by Emmanuel Gyamfi. The referee pointed to the spot to give the visitors their first share of the penalties.
Interestingly, CARA goalkeeper Chansel, who had saved three penalties prior, bungled the kick against goalkeeper Annan.
With a minute remaining, Kotoko got the last opportunity of the game after Sadick was brought down once again in the box. Substitute Yakubu Mohammed successfully transformed the effort to break the deadlock and give the Porcupine Warriors a glimmer of hope ahead of the second leg scheduled for February 21 in Brazzaville.