Patrick Razak played the super substitute as he scored a late goal to hand Hearts of Oak a 2-1 victory against Asante Kotoko and win the 2022 President’s Cup yesterday at the Accra Stadium.
Seven minutes after coming on as a replacement for Salim Adams, Razak seized his moment as he caught the Kotoko centre-backs napping during an adventurous move that saw almost the entire Kotoko players in the Hearts half of the field in search of a late winner. And with the pace winger lurking unmarked, the ball was flighted into his path and he sprinted from the centre line with breathtaking pace past the Kotoko centre-backs, wrong-footed onrushing goalkeeper Ibrahim Danlad to tap in the winning goal.
In only his first match for the Phobians this season, Razak could not have scored a more important goal. The timing of that strike sent the Hearts faithful in delirium, as the player removed his shirt and run towards his technical bench in ecstasy while his teammates and officials celebrated an important victory over their arch-rivals and a fitting revenge, having lost the last President’s Cup to Kotoko by the same margin three years ago.
Daniel Afriyieh Barnieh put Hearts ahead five minutes after recess but the Phobians saw their lead cancelled by substitute Samuel Boateng in the 76th minute as Kotoko’s pressure paid off, although Boateng’s strike deflected off Hearts’ defender Mohammed Alhassan to leave goalkeeper Richard Attah stranded.
As expected, Kotoko were the most promising side at the start of the game but were held in check at the final end of the pitch by the Hearts defenders, Dennis Korsah, Alhassan and Skipper Fatawu Mohammed.
Eight minutes into the game, Hearts mounted a brilliant attack with Mohammed bursting from the right flanks to send a cross in the Kotoko goal area but goalkeeper Danlad read the situation to save the ball.
Kotoko noticed the weakness at the right flanks of Hearts from which they launched most of their attacks with their Camerounian striker, Franck Mbella Etouga twice exploiting some mistakes by Hearts but could not capitalise on it to punish their opponents.
In the 16th minute, Etouga, who was heavily marked, left the Kotoko faithful disappointed after he had meandered through the Hearts defence only to see his effort hit the side net.
A minute later, Hearts were at the offensive and profited from a free kick but Sulley Muntari’s volley landed on the roof of the net.
Kotoko would have their goalkeeper Danlad to thank as he scored full marks by tipping over a 20-yard volley from Isaac Mensah before another brilliant save from Muntari’s freekick in the 38th minute after Moro Ibrahim had fouled Fatawu just at the edge of the box.
The urge to break the deadlock was intense for Kotoko with Etouga combining effectively with Mfege to cause problems for Hearts, but could not find the winner.
At the other end, referee Gabriel Opoku ignored an appeal for a penalty after they claimed Kwadwo Obeng Jnr had been heckled in the penalty box just a minute before halftime.
Second half goals
Coach Samuel Boadu’s charges returned to the second half with a different plan to attack and five minutes later striker, Daniel Afriyieh Barnieh scored after he was put through by Salim Adams.
Hearts sat back and defended as Kotoko’s Etouga and Justice Blay run the show but could not find the target.
By the 75th minute, Coach Prosper Nartey Ogum had made two tactical substitutions, bringing on Richard Boadu for Richmond Lamptey, and Samuel Boateng for Mudasiru Salifu which paid off as Boateng profited from a sloppy defensive play to equalise in the 76th minute.
The Porcupine Warriors were energised by the goal and took the game to the Phobians who occasionally tested Danlad until Razak caught the defenders of Kotoko cold with the decisive strike.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in whose honour the match was played to commemorate Ghana’s 65th Independence anniversary celebration, presented the trophy to Hearts captain Mohammed to spark off a late night celebration by the Phobians.