Asante Kotoko yesterday posted a 2-0 victory over Kano Pillars of Nigeria at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi to qualify to the next stage of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League competition.
Kotoko qualified on a 4-3 goal aggregate after losing the initial leg 2-3 at the Sani Abaacha Stadium in Nigeria a fortnight ago.
Kotoko had led 2-1 at half time in the first leg but paid dearly for a couple of defensive lapses, resulting as losers eventually.
Those defensive frailties remained a major headache for the entire Porcupine Warriors family ahead of the second leg which they needed at least a goal victory to sail through.
And such was the determination when the Reds marched onto the Baba Yara field spurred on by a vibrant home crowd ready to cheer them on to victory.
And when the first whistle went, it was the hosts that controlled the game with the Nigerians mounting a strong barrier at their goal area to ward off any challenge.
But the Ghanaians found the right chord very early in the game when Matthew Kelvin Andoh fired into the Kano Pillars net for the opener in the third minute.
Lurking around the goal area of the Nigerians, Andoh intercepted a rebound from a save from Kano Pillars goalkeeper, Suraji Ayeleso of Richard Arthur’s shot at goal.
The goal sent the atmosphere into ruptures as the fans celebrated.
The Nigerians became a bit jittery but recovered well and went toe-to-toe with the Porcupine Warriors, knowing a goal will put them back in the game.
They forced Kotoko to commit a few errors at the back as they went close to getting an equalizer but Empem Dacosta and Habib Mohammed prove dependable at the rear.
Kotoko also fought back in an attempt to get a second goal but were denied by the goalkeeping heroics of the Kano Pillars goalkeeper to end the first half 1-0.
Both sides resumed the second half aggressively with Kotoko having the upper hand but unable to break the Nigerian defence.
However, a decent cross to Naby Keita in the Kano Pillars area saw the Kotoko lanky attacker beautifully chest the ball onto the path of Emmanuel Gyamfi who wasted no time in riffling in the second goal with 13 minutes left.
By the win and automatic progression, Kotoko will face Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia at the next stage of the competition.
The first leg of the Kotoko-Etoile clash will be in Kumasi on the weekend of September 13-15 with the return leg in Sousse a fortnight later.
Kotoko: Felix Annan (GK) (C), Empem Dacosta, Mohammed Habib, Agyemang Badu, Patrick Yeboah, Justice Blay, Samuel Frimpong, Mathew Kelvin Andoh, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Naby Keita, Richard Arthur.
Kano Pillars: Surajo Ayeleso, Victor Dennis, Nasiru Sani, Adashola David, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Abdullahi Musa, Ifeanyi Nwenke, Christopher Madaki, Rabi’u Ali (C), Nyima Nwagua, Rahaqqu Adam.