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CAF Confederation Cup

Caf Confederation Cup: Zesco United 2-1 Asante Kotoko: Five things we learned

03:18 GMT 18/03/2019
Kotoko goalkeeper felix annan and emmanuel gyamfi
Goal highlights some observations from Sunday’s clash between the Ghanaian club and their Zambian counterpart in the continental competition

A 2-1 away loss to Zesco United of Zambia saw Asante Kotoko's Caf Confederation Cup run end on Sunday.

The defeat in the group stage final matchday fixture left the Porcupine Warriors third in Group C, one spot below where they needed to have finished to make the quarter-finals.

Jesse Were and Clement Mwape won the day for the home side after Stephen Nyarko had put the visitors in the lead at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. 

Below are some observations from the Zesco-Kotoko showdown:

Yacouba absence heavy 
With two goals and five assists to his name, Burkinabe striker Songne Yacouba has undoubtedly been Kotoko's linchpin this season. His absence from Sunday's must-win game was always going to be felt. Indeed it was.

Without the striker, Kotoko's attack looked tame in a game they must score to have any chance of survival. The usual hustle and bustle characteristic of Kotoko's attack - the one that always tormented opposition defenders, and ably made so by the former Stade Malien man - was missing. Unfortunately, the consequences of his absence are regrettable. 

Teguy introduction little too late 
In the stead of Yacouba, Ivorian striker Dany Zabo Teguy was chosen by coach CK Akonnor to lead Kotoko's attack. Interestingly, it was his first appearance for the Porcupines since being signed in January. 

And although his lack of match fitness posed a little worry in the game, the general consensus after the tie was that an introduction into the mix a little earlier, possibly in a striking partnership with Yacouba, could have been all that Kotoko needed. 

Time to refresh 
Over the years, captain Amos Frimpong has somehow managed to earn a reputation as one of the most formidable defenders on the local scene. 
But truth be told his status is all down to his ability to score from the spot than for his game in general.

Although his versatility helped Kotoko plug holes at the back wherever needed in the Confed Cup journey, his general performance has been nothing spectacular. Sunday was no exception as he showed nothing but uninspiring performance. Maybe it's about time the Porcupine Warriors took another look at their captain. Maybe it's about time they looked at the likes of Daniel Nii Adjei, Jordan Opoku, Frederick Boateng and Obed Owusu too. 

Slip-ups are costly 
Kotoko were knocked out of the Confederation Cup on Sunday but for many, the damage was done a week earlier.

Needing a win at home against Sudan's Al Hilal on the penultimate matchday to book qualification for the quarter-finals, the Porcupines let a glorious opportunity pass as they could only settle for a 1-1 draw in Kumasi. That was a big setback. But there was hope the wrong would be righted on Sunday. That was never to be as the cut from last week turned out too big to be stitched. 

Confed Cup campaign worth it
From a side that entered the competition in November without having competitively kicked a ball since June, going all the way to the group stage and coming very close to making the last eight is not bad at all.

Interestingly, it had to take a lot of fight to gain the right to play in Africa. But having come so close to the quarter-finals, with last year's campaign ending at the first hurdle (preliminary round) and their last group stage run coming in 2008, this year's session has been a worthy attempt.