When referee Mohammed Misbaou whistled for the end of the Karela United – Kotoko league game, Johnson Smith turned towards the VIP area at the CAM Park with his hands up in the air and a broad smile on his face.
At that same time, the 11 players of Karela United went down unto the turf with the substitutes consoling them.
They had tasted defeat for the very first time on their home turf in 5 – years.
If anyone had the wherewithal to lead a team to beat Karela at home, it was always going to be a team led by Johnson Smith. Smith qualified them to the Ghana Premier League in 2018 and guided them to the finals of the NC tournament. He knows the team and supporters even better than the current technical handlers.
Karela United missed the services of their two key central midfielders in Umar Bashiru and Saddick Alhassan who were both serving suspension after receiving three yellow cards in the 11 previous games.
Both players have been instrumental for Evans Adotey this season. Their exit meant there will be limited supply to Diawusie Taylor and the back four will be exposed if Kotoko decide to press.
Johnson Smith knew this, so he set up his team to press Karela United. He deployed Latif Anabilla, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Sarkodie and gave Fabio Gama a free role. All these Midfielders coupled with Imoro Ibrahim’s runs from the left hand side of the Kotoko defense were feeding both Naby Keita and Kwame Poku with passes upfront.
Kotoko succeeded in taking control of the midfield which neutralized Diawusie Taylor and Kwame Boateng. Imoro then had the chance to surge forward because of less pressure on him.
His surging runs gave Kotoko the opening goal. Kotoko had about 5 players in Karela United’s half when Imoro scored the opening goal from outside the 18-yard box.
After scoring the goal, Imoro Ibrahim raised his hands up to show respect to his former team Karela United and the late David Brigidi who was a good friend of him.
Karela United had to respond after going a goal down, the clock was not waiting for them, it kept ticking by the minute, everyone at the stadium including Kotoko fans knew Karela United would equalize because of their home record.
Razak Abalora made some decent saves to maintain Kotoko’s lead.
The Pride Passion boys lacked character and their bench was weaker as compared to their opponent.
While Kotoko brought on Habib Mohammed and Mudasiru Salifu, Karela United who were trailing and had to score were bringing on Samuel Ofori and Darlington Fosu Gyan.
Kotoko’s topscorer this season Kwame Poku wrapped everything up with the second goal after he forced his way through the Karela defense which had no shield throughout the 90 minutes to score.
Image credit to: Samuelloo
By Francis Hema|3news.com|Ghana