Kumasi — Asante Kotoko Sporting Club sealed their qualification to the league stage of the CAF Confederation Cup competition when they beat Coton Sport Garoua of Cameroon 2-1 in the second leg of their final qualifier at the Baba Yara Stadium, yesterday.
The Reds thus qualify on a 5-3 aggregate, having beaten the Cameroonians 3-2 in Yaoundé week ago in the first leg encounter.
It was, however, not an easy afternoon for the Porcupine Warriors who were tipped to humble the visitors as a result of a dominant performance in the initial leg.
Playing before a packed to capacity stadium 'painted' in the red and white colours of the club, the Porcupine Warriors took off in earnest looking for an early goal but were denied by goalkeeper Bassa Djeri who saved shots from Emmanuel Gyamfi and Songne Yacouba in the 10th and 16th minutes, respectively.
The visitors, who paid dearly for their poor passes and lack of imagination upfront, held the hosts boot for boot until the third minute of the four minutes added on time when Kotoko captain, Amos Frimpong scored from the spot when Songne Yacouba was brought down in the box.
Yacouba, who had a poor first leg, had latched onto a long pass from his midfielders which after controlling beautifully got set to fire home.
But in an attempt to shoot, he was heckled in the goal area, leaving the referee with no choice but point to the spot. From there, Frimpong made no mistake about it.
Having given their expectant crowd something to cheer about, Kotoko resumed the second half with fireworks as they laid a siege in the visitor's area in search of a goal to secure the first half strike from the spot despite the first leg cushion.
Diminutive Emmanuel Gyamfi led Kotoko's search and fired a drive three minutes after resumption but was once again denied by the ever alert keeper Bassa Djeri who went to the rescue of Coton Sport.
On the 54th minute mark, Maxwell Baako hit the back of the net with a powerful drive but the goal attracted a fierce protest by the Cameroonians following an earlier whistle for an infringement by the Cape Verde referee, Fabricio Duarte.
Failure to convince the referee over that decision meant Kotoko was 2-0 up.
With nothing to protect now, the visitors regrouped and captured the midfield, spraying the pitch with some delightful long passes, one of which put Oumarou Sali in a good position to pull a goal back for the Cameroonians to reduce the tally in the 86th minute.
The four minutes left saw Kotoko play under pressure from the Coton Sport men who fought from all angles in a bid to get the leveler but found it difficult to break the Kotoko defence.
That, perhaps, explained the joy and happiness that greeted the blast of the final whistle to confirm their qualification to the league stage of the competition where Kotoko will draw some of the biggest sides on the continent.