Asante Kotoko fought hard in second leg of the Caf Confederation Cup play-off in Setif but only ended up drawing the tie as ES Setif progress to the group stages of the competition.
The Ghana Premier League giants put up a convincing performance in attempt to over-turn the slim loss at Accra a week ago. After 90’ minutes of action, it all ended 0-0 as Kotoko crushed out of the Confederation Cup.
The Kumasi based side suffered a 2-1 defeat from the first leg in Accra and needed a miracle to qualify in Algeria.
While that was in mind, the Ghanaian side failed to defile all odds to beat Setif in their own ground, creating few decent chances in the second leg at Algeria.
Kotoko have never won a Caf Inter Club game away against any of the North African side and a win could have changed the records in the history of African club football.
With the game starting on a slow note, Black Stars keeper Razak Abelora was a stumbling block for ES Setif’s early opener after the Black Stars goalkeeper dived to save Toure’s shot from inside the box.
Setif have to press with urgency to stop Kotoko from starting possession from the back however their approach failed in many cases allowing the Ghanaians to control the midfield.
Despite controlling proceedings, Kotoko failed with little urgency upfront to open up Setif’s defense seeing the game end goalless in first half. Kotoko kept Setif’s attack at bay.
There were not much changes from the first half in restart. ES Setif was very watchful at back and heavily relied on counter from the right flank. But left-back Imoro Ibrahim did well to prevent most dangerous crosses.
Nabil Kouki made two introductions with Amoura being one of them and that somehow changed the story a little bit for the Algerians. ES Setif began to play through the midfield and one moment saw Amoura struck from inside the box but the ball missed the posts by inches.
The miss was a relief for the Ghanaian side when boss Johnson Smith thought his men have conceded the first goal. A goalless draw was what the tactician could lest expect to par with David Duncan and Didi Dramani who trip with Kotoko to Algerian have all ended in goalless.
With Smith ending the game 0-0, be becomes the third manager to come away from Algeria with a clean sheet. In fact, Kotoko have never lost away to Algerian side in their last three visits to the North African country after stretching JSM Bajaia and El Eulma in the Afcon holders home soil.
While running away with that impressive result was a happy one for Smith, there was a point where Ghanaian was disappointed for bringing out Fabio Gama who had been a tormentor against ES Setif.
The change was unexpected in a bizarre manner after the Brazilian picked a shoulder injury as Kotoko need to continue the fight without their no.10.
Gama skipped past two ES Setif players at few distance away from the circle but the Algerians gripped the South American in between forcing the 28-year old play-maker out of the game.
Kwame Adom Frimpong replaced the Brazilian whiles Mudasiru Salifu and Godfred Asiamah came in for Emmanuel Sarkodie and Naby Keita respectively.
A moment later ES Setif launched another attack from the right but the ever sweat cross was header over the bar.
Setif had put themselves together and another swift team move from the left edge saw Emmaneul Gyamfi fouled Setif captain Akram Djahnit. Should that effort had been allowed into the posts may another story would have been told.
But the resultant delivery failed to beat Abelora. Kotoko came close to breaking the deadlock when Mudasiru Salifu sent in a beautiful curler from behind the box but shot-stopper Sofiane Khedairia parried to a corner.
Amoura have been creating problems for Kotoko since his introduction and nearly registered his name on the assist chat but after playing Kendouci through on goal, the forward solo strike went straight in to the arms of Abelora.
That move was the last action of the game as it ended 0-0 in Setif. The Algerian Premier League leaders have now qualified to the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup while Kotoko suffer second consecutive exit of Confederation Cup play-off.
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