Caf Champions League: Asante Kotoko 2-0 Kano Pillars (Agg: 4-3): Porcupines dispatch Masu Gida

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The Ghanaian champions have booked a place in the next round of the continental inter-club showpiece, thanks to a home win on Sunday

Ghanaian club Asante Kotoko proved too strong for Nigerian outfit Kano Pillars in the Caf Champions League as a 2-0 home win was enough to earn the Porcupine Warriors qualification to the next round of the competition.

An early Matthew Kelvin Andoh strike and an Emmanuel Gyamfi second-half effort ultimately proved decisive in the preliminary round second leg fixture at Kumasi's Baba Yara Sports.

With the first leg ending 3-2 in favour of the Nigerians, Kotoko qualify for the first round on a 4-3 aggregate, earning a chance to face Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in the next phase.

Kotoko coach Kjetil Zachariassen made three changes to the starting team from the first leg, ousting Ugandan striker George Abege, midfielder Stephen Tetteh and defender Evans Owusu for Guinean forward Naby Laye Keita, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Evans Owusu, respectively.

Pillars coach Ibrahim Musa predictably put faith in talisman Rabiu Ali and striker Nyima Nwagua to spearhead their attack.

Buoyed by the crowd, the hosts took only three minutes to get going as Andoh drove a rebound into the net for the opener after Pillars goalkeeper Suraji Ayeleso parried Richard Arthur's first shot.

After the goal, it looked as though it was all going to be Kotoko but that was not the case as the visitors grew into the game more and more.

Still, Kotoko were on the front foot, a situation which would force Pillars into an early substitution in the 26th minute when Nasiru Sani was taken off for an early shower, his place taken by Yusuf Maigoro.

Four minutes later, Masu Gida would make a second substitution, this time Nzube Anaezemba replacing Ifeanyi Nweke.

The goal and early substitutions aside, there were no further big moments in a first-half dominated by the spirited hosts.

Kotoko began the second stanza with another spout of energy, an action that saw Keita hit yet another rebound into the net.

The Guinean celebrated wildly, taking off his shirt and earning a yellow card for his inappropriate jubilation, only to see the strike ruled out moments later for offside. 

Gyamfi drove a shot just wide in the 63rd minute, then Ali replied for Pillars with a similar effort at the end.

At this moment, there was no holding back by the visitors as the standing aggregate score stood against them on away goals.

Nwagua's shot then missed the target by inches in the 68th minute.

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Kotoko would not just watch their lead threatened as Arthur's thunderous strike for a second goal came off the woodwork.

The hosts ultimately registered the much-searched insurance goal in the 77th minute when Keita chested a ball into the path of Gyamfi, who made no mistake with his strike to grab the second goal.

Pillars mounted a late challenge for a goal but their efforts yielded nothing as the hosts held on to claim a 2-0 win on the day. 
 

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