Relocating is never easy, but Asante Kotoko appear to have mastered the art of it.
And it helps, it seems, that Ghana Premier League challengers Bechem United have picked up the neighborly habit of being on hand to help ease the Porcupine Warriors’ settlement into their new home.
How nice of them…
Just about a year ago, you’d probably recall, Bechem were the first team to come visiting after Kotoko moved temporarily to the Accra Sports Stadium from their Kumasi base.
Kotoko went into that fixture on a bad spell of form, with just one point from their preceding two league games, and smarting from a chastening FA Cup elimination at the hands of lower-tier opponents that had earned them an earful from the club’s chairman.
But Bechem came around, offering themselves as a willing sacrifice to appease Kotoko’s spirits in a 3-1 defeat. It would take a while before Kotoko won another game by a score as emphatic, but, when it finally happened, on Wednesday, generous Bechem were again guests.
Kotoko’s latest house-warming party, following their fresh move to host games at Obuasi’s Len Clay Stadium. And, like all good guests, Bechem came bearing gifts: four goals that got Kotoko’s life at their new home off to a blistering start.
Black Stars defender Ismail Ganiyu scored a rare — but absolutely brilliant — goal, from a freekick cleverly teed off by the irrepressible Fabio Gama.
It resulted from a slick move — featuring delightful interplay with Augustine Okrah — that Gama conducted, and which underlined just how much influence he now has on this Kotoko team.
Godfred Asiamah found himself on the end of that picturesque passage of play, but his shot cannoned off the post… and into the path of Michael Vinicius, Kotoko’s other Brazilian import.
The newly acquired forward — only three minutes after replacing Francis Andy Kumi, another debutant and scorer of Kotoko’s third goal — tucked in the rebound with a minimum of fuss.
But even the final outcome, 4-0, flattered a Bechem side that had dominated the pre-match banter, as Mariano Barreto, Kotoko’s new head coach — in the dug-out for the first time — asserted post-match.
“We should have won by 8-0 or 9-0,” the Portuguese said. “We created many chances that we should have scored more.”
Still, this is as resounding a victory as Kotoko have managed all season. Prior to Barreto’s arrival, Kotoko had averaged less than a goal per game, and the mid-term sale of chief goalscorer Kwame Opoku seemed to suggest that things wouldn’t get much better on that front.
Yet here Kotoko were, getting goals from new boys and centre-backs!
Scoring was, of course, only one of the challenges that threatened to derail Kotoko’s pursuit of a 24th league crown; a so-so home form was another, but this big win promises a quick resolution of both issues.
Already armed with the league’s best defensive record and its most impressive run on the road, Kotoko — now up to third, two points off the top — may just have found a formula that breathes life anew into their title challenge.
Yaw Frimpong — Ink & Kicks