Asante Kotoko were defeated 4-2 on penalties by rivals Hearts of Oak in the semifinals of the 2018 Ghalca G8 tournament at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Wednesday to set up a final date with either Medeama or Dreams FC in the final slated for Sunday at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
Kotoko coach Steve Polack made only one change in his side that defeated Aduana last weekend with Wahab Adams replacing injured Emmanuel Owusu while Hearts, on the other hand, made four changes in their set-up that played against Dwarfs in the last Group B game.
Goalkeeper Ben Mensah replaced Theophilus Jackson while Alhassan Aminu, Cosmos Dauda and Reginald Thompson came in for Benjamin Afutu Kotey, Alexander Kouasi Kouami and Patrick Razak respectively.
Kotoko exerted themselves on their visitors in the early exchanges, swinging passes together in midfield but the final delivery to their attackers was their only bane.
Hearts came into the game by the 20th minute but failed to find a breach in Kotoko's defence. The best chance of the half fell to Dauda, after he was played through by a teammate on 32nd minute but the Hearts forward shot wide.
After the break, Hearts continued to pile pressure on Kotoko in their search for the opening goal. Felix Annan produced a superb save to deny Hearts the lead by the 48th minute. Captain Inusah Musah latched on to a rebound and sent in a powerful shot from 25 yards out but Annan tipped off the ball for a corner kick.
Hearts brought on Razak for Thompson on 49th minute and the latter made his presence felt with his first touch of the ball. The former Utrecht winger went past two defenders and cut it back to Christopher Bonney but the defender blasted his effort up and wide with the goal at his mercy.
Kotoko responded with a double substitution on 70th minute, as Baba Mahama and Kwesi Nti came on for Emmanuel Gyamfi and Idriss Vie Sylla but they couldn't unlock the bulwark defence of Hearts. Frederick Boateng and Kwame Boahene came close on several occasions but goalkeeper Ben Mensah saved the occasion.
Following the goalless draw in regulation time, Hearts carried the day through penalty shootouts. After Kotoko's Jackson Owusu missed the first kick, goalkeeper Annan saved Richard Akrofi's effort to bring the score even.
However, Kotoko captain Eric Donkor saw his kick saved by goalkeeper Mensah and Malik Akowuah calmly sent his shot beyond the reach of Annan to win the day for the Phobians.