Hearts of Oak have sailed through to the Caf Champions League first round after beating Guinea outfit Club Industriel Kamsar 2-0 at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Their “never say die until the bones are rotten” spirit transpired throughout on the way to the 2-0 victory over Kamsar who proved a very determined side to pick qualification for Caf Champions League first round on the Ghanaian soil but the Phobians stacked with the slogan to battle until late goals hand them a first round fixture against Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca.
After Samuel Boadu giving a start to big name players Afriyie Barnieh, Salifu Ibrahim, Emmanuel Nettey, Ansah Botchway and Isaac Mensah, it was second half subs Kofi Kodzi and Salim Adams who salvaged the Ghana Premier League from scary and were heros in the hard fought win in Ghana’s capital.
Kodzi has re-join Hearts of Oak from Qatar after spending close to two seasons with Mauither and opened the scores with a fantastic free kick before the 18-year old former New Edubiase midfielder added to the tally.
In a game that Hearts were given a huge advantage after Kamsar’s country forced out the first leg clash due to coup, the Ghana Premier League side had it all in their court. And the atmosphere was more charged when they were playing in the newly unveil jersey for next season.
Despite that, Kamsar opening early-minute surprise- having started the brighter- clearly communicated their intent after controlling the game in the first five minutes. However, they seemed to be much aware of Hearts’ treat and they stood on the neck of the home side that squeezed the Phobians in whatever attack they tried to launch.
With Hearts been tried-and-tested in possessive play last season, they could never allow Kamsar’s shadow marking in the final third desist them from what they are fond of. Hearts however managed to open Kamsar’s high line on the 7th minute that brought the needed confidence with Caleb Amankwa finding Nettey to Salifu Ibrahim before the latest’s intended forward pass was intercepted by Claude Pascal Leno.
Hearts now had the antidote to Kamsar’ high line approach and contained the Guineans for the next 10 minutes with a particular of Hearts attack seeing Barnieh broke on the right flank however his delivery into the box was cleared to a first corner of the game.
Before that Kamsar’s aggression in midfield had increased having the Guinean side retrieved to form siege deep in midfield with Pascal Leno emerging a mountain for Hearts midfield. Later, the Kamasr captain went in for a challenge before seeing been beaten to the dwell by Caleb Amankwa but the Ghanaian fouled Pascal in the process as the referee whistled for a foul.
The Hearts corner was swung in, Caleb Amankwah went in for a challenge on Damilola but the Kamsar keep parried to another corner. That was the first time Hearts had entered into Kamsar’s box with a threatening situation.
And the half chances began to fall the way of the Ghana Premier League champions; that could be due to their long balls which Afriyie Barnieh nearly scored from one. Caleb Amankwah sent a long one from his half, Isaac Mensah neatly flicked to the path of Barnieh, the former U-20 International entered the box turned his marker before firing a feeble shot that went straight into Damilola’s hands.
On the 21’ minutes, CI Kamsar suffered a major blow after Pascal Leno got injury from Ansah Botchway’s heavy challenge. The Guinean International was replaced by Mamady Conde. Few minutes later, Isingani who took over the armband from Leno have his share of the spat of midfield battles with this particular tackle on Barnieh.
The referee could not waved play-on after finally pointing to the spot for infringement few distance away from the box. Samuel Boadu move from the dugout to the touchline with much excitement all written on his face.
It don’t know as many as others who were watching the game but i much believed that the Ghanaian boss was expecting his first goal. However, that was not the moment after Emmanuel Nettey’s powerful struck free kick went far wayward.
Kamsar continued to grow in confidence after Hearts keeping the ball but struggling to open the Guinean’s defense line. At a point the away side outnumbered Hearts of Oak in middle but the precise direction upfront was a major problem for Breard’s men.
With both clubs failing to open an account in a 50-50 shared possession in the first half, the score line remained barren where frustrations on face was the major characteristic of Hearts players as the walk to the tunnel.
Early minutes of the second half was a change of tactics for both sides with the Ghana Premier League champions adopting the direct and long plays while Kamsar departed from the defensive setup to pour forward.
However, with more men up front now, Kamsar could still suffer even more from this approach as while they multiple in upfront, they decrease at the back which best situated Hearts’ long balls.
Hearts thought calmly moving the ball from the back through to attack would make Kamsar recover on time and intended with swift direct long plays.
This approach entangled Kamsar for its early minutes since introduction but Daniel Breard who was so tactical on the afternoon find solutions to it as immediate as best that reduced the effectiveness of Boadu’s new strategy.
Despite Kamsar’s resilient even till middle of the game, Hearts managed to find back of the net through Afriyie Barnieh on 69’ minute but the referee adjudged foul on Damilola.
There was sweet cross into the box with Isaac Mensah going in air with Damilola who seems to be pushed a little bit; and after the ball descended on the ground Barnieh timely struck into the net with a half volley but the goal was disallowed.
Few minutes later, Hearts of Oak who seem to have full control of the game scored again but it was ruled offside. Hearts boss later brought on Kofi Kodzi for Isaac Mensah as the later pinched Kamsar in heart after scoring from a superb free kick.
The bulky forward started it all skipping past his marker; played a one-two with Salifu Ibrahim but the later was brought down behind the box to stop Hearts’ threat. If Kamsar knew that moment would be their down fall they would have leaved Ibrahim untouched but they couldn’t predict the future committing that foul at that dangerous position just a step in their penalty box.
Kodzi stepped forward and send it to the far posts of the net as Hearts of Oak now reap from the consistent pushing for the first goal. Damilola made the attempt to save the ball but the power and direction of the kick was beyond his anticipation.
Enock Asubonteng, Salim Adams had entered proceedings few minutes before the fourth referee showed four minutes of additional time. The duo were heavily involved in the goal that finally tamed stubborn CI Kamsar at the Accra Sport Stadium in what a match Hearts and Ghanaian football loving fans will remember for decades.
Kamsar’s attack after Conde had hit started it was intercepted by Barnieh in the final third; the forward feed his new teammate Asubonteng wide on the left but as the Ghanaian struggles to beat his marker; he passed back to his player who sent in a cross; cleared by Kamsar defense but the ball was only grooming for Salim Adams who shot with a one-time effort that went straight into next.
Hearts’ 2-0 victory see them take on Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in the first round of the Caf Champions League. The winner of the fixture enter into the group stages while the losing side play in the Confederation Cup play-off.