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Felix Annan and Yacouba star as Kotoko try to conquer Africa again

There is this iconic Vodafone Turkey Advert which won a lot of awards last year. It shows a sailor, perhaps a researcher, who gets a phone call at the same time he was trying to take the perfect picture of a giant Orca jumping out of water somewhere in the Arctic Circle. The ad is accompanied by the tagline line “Coverage Everywhere, Sorry”. A rare magical sight interrupted by a damn phone call. 

So as soon as the Kotoko players made their way to the Baba Yara Pitch for kick-off, Kumawood Star Bill Asamoah like most people in the Stadium took his phone to film a moment which has been rare for the best part of a decade. He zoomed in to capture the players whose turn it was to represent this illustrious club of the land. Then like in a Ghanaian adaptation of the Vodafone ad, he received a phone call, but the call had to wait for this star’s star struck moment. He definitely had to finish filming. Bill’s response to why he couldn’t pick the call should simply be “Covering Everywhere At Baba Yara, Not Sorry”.  He wasn’t the only star up in the stands at Baba Yara. The funniest man in Ghana – Akrobeto – too was here.

He had charged up the fans by going on a mini lap of honour around the stadium before kickoff. He was halted somewhere around the 150metres mark. It had something to do with some CAF officials complaining. The fans didn’t take lightly to that. Five minutes after the game should have started, the fans and CAF officials were on the same page. The Zesco goalkeeper had appeared on the field and left, a false start of sort. It had something to do with a wardrobe malfunction.

The Yacouba and Felix Annan Show

When the game started Kotoko were clearly on top. Early opportunities were missed by Fatawu and Gyamfi. Kotoko made their dominance show. Yacouba latched onto a clearance from his defense. He controlled neatly and squaded it for Bonsu whose well struck shoot deflected in. The fans went crazy. Fatawu would then provide a perfect chance for Yacouba to score. He would miss and put the Stadium in total shock. Zesco United were all over the place.  They didn’t resemble a powerhouse from Zambia. They looked like they were in Ghana for a SuperZo game, probably Adisco vrs Zesco was the fixture their 15 minutes performance merited. Suddenly, a rash challenge by Agyeman Badu almost gave them a quick route back into the game, against the run of play. Jackson Were stood up to take the spot kick.

Felix Annan was equal to it with the first of his many saves on the day as he dived to his left. He did not only just put up a string of top class saves, his kicking was exceptional. With Black Stars Coach Kwasi Appiah in attendance, his performance was merely his acceptance speech for his inevitable call up for the Black Stars AFCON squad.

He was not the only player that put in an inspired performance as Kotoko grabbed their first points in this evenly balanced group. Senanu and Bonsu patrolled the midfield superbly. Gyamfi and Baakoh” Messi” Maxwell provided the attacking width. They kept the backline of Zesco busy, but sometimes, they looked like they could do with extra shooting practice. It will be Gyamfi that will give Kotoko the second goal. Yacouba quickly pounced on a throw in and crossed the ball. Gyamfi applied the finish.

Fatawu also had a stellar game in attack. He kept finding space and linking up well with Yacouba and kept chasing after the ball. A crunching tackle late in the first half right in front of the Kotoko dugout got C.K Akonnor celebrating wildly. The crowd also joined in. They appreciate selflessness in these parts.

The Second half came and Kotoko’s intensity reduced but Yacouba kept finding himself in great goal scoring positions. He kept trying to find his goal but sadly it looked like this was not going to be his day. He had clearly left his goalscoring instincts at home. According to some fans he never even brought it to Ghana from his native Ivory Coast in the first place. When he was finally substituted the crowd was a bit indifferent. Then he clapped on his way to the touchline and they cheered him on. You could see how much of cult hero he could become if he can find a bit of composure in front of goal.

AAAAAAAAAMEN!!!!!!

Zesco found a way back into the game. A lack of concentration saw substitute Osumanu Rahim score to make it 2-1. A naughty stamp by Kondwani Mtonga would see Zesco reduced to 10 men and end their hopes of a late comeback. The fans led by the perpetually energetic brass band started singing “Aaaaaaaaaaaamen, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaamen, Aaamen Aaamen”. They believed their 3 points was home and dry. They believed they could go all the way.

For that to happen they need to be better in the second half. They need Felix Annan to continue his rise as Ghana’s best Goalkeeper. They need Bonsu to continue to have a “whale” of a game. For Baakoh to be the best version of Messi he can be. For CK to trust in his squad and not only his starting 11. They need their defense to shed their ECG tendencies and be switched on, all the time. Most importantly, they need Yacouba to believe in himself in front of goal.

After the game I saw him relaxing somewhere in the Kumasi City Mall. He ordered a can of Red Bull. The energy drink whose tagline is, “it gives you wings”. Well, he and the whole Kum Apem Family will need all the wings they can muster on their quest to Conquer Africa again.

By Kwesi Asomadu

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