All hope were lost. In every sense and meaning to that statement for Asante Kotoko until a player in Eric Donkor transitioned from a pure villain to a beloved hero.
Donkor had missed a penalty in the 87th minutes but maintained his calmness three minutes into the five additional minutes to nick in the goal that carries the destiny of a kingdom.
Kotoko beat Sekondi Hasaacas 1-0. That’s the score but the joy of a win was overwhelmingly eclipsed by the absolute incompetence of the match officials.
The ghost that hunted Kotoko in the FA Cup final at this same Sekondi stadium last Sunday grew in multiple strength to frustrate both teams. Assistant referee,E.B. Baiden in the 33rd minutes disallowed a clean own goal from Kingsley Adjei when he touched to his net a low cross from Donkor.
Coach David Duncan had to move from his area to calm things down. A downcast man himself put both hands on the shoulders of Baiden and offered some words to the official.
There was also that incident when Tenesson Opoku sent a long ball into attack as Frederick Quayson outrun Kwesi Acheampong and beat the oncoming goalkeeper Joseph Addo,who was out of his penalty box with a header. Quayson went down afterwards and the whistle was blown by referee J.A. Amenya. A decision which must take ten seconds to be known for an obvious foul against Kotoko later went in their favor. The scream of utter shock from the fans was amazing.
Top of it all was the penalty. Prince Baffoe controlled a pass,dragged back to dummy Augustine Arhinful and dived to the ground. Referee Amenya quickly pointed to the spot. Hasaacas’ players immensely revolted including those who came from the bench to the field. After about three minutes of hold up,the spot kick was saved by George Owu.
This time around,the noise from the well attended spectators was a mix of joy and malaise.
The spirit of competitiveness was lost in the atmosphere of the match save the shame that awoken passion from the playing field to the stands.
Kotoko were poorer in play,much more from players’ abilities and skill at this top notch demanding game when the six points deducted them should have brought the best out of them. But in this penultimate match, Kotoko were off mark.
Here again,it is easier, better and appropriate to grant the headline to the match officials who painted Ghana football bad and black after last Sunday’s outstanding re-branding.