Soccer loving Liberians and particularly those of Barrack Young Controllers said it: “BYC is set to make history,” and thousands sat on tenterhooks after 88 minutes, yesterday at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.
They waited for a miracle that came through substitute Blamo Nymely in the 89th minute to make history, and hopefully to revive the image of Liberian soccer.
It was during an attack on Kotoko defense. BYC strikers pushed forward as the ball entered the 18-yard box.
Kotoko defenders Abieku Ainooson, Ben Adama and Kwabena Edusei struggled to get the ball under control.
The compact of players in the defense forced goalkeeper Soulama Abdullahi to lower his towering frame to locate of the ball.
Substitute Nymely also in the box turned around and the ball rolled in front of him and he put his right foot to it as it rolled into the net, with goalkeeper Abdullahi misjudging the course of the ball.
And the referee sounded his whistle to acknowledge the goal as Nymely ran to celebrate it.
The goal unsettled Kotoko players as they stood in their tracks shocked.
Goalkeeper Abdullahi had been playing unnecessary delay tactics and was warned by the referee. With the goal he sat on the field, not believing what had just happened, when the game had was barely four minutes to end.
Soccer fans waited for 88 frustrated minutes but it was atoned for by the goal which indicated that Asante Kotoko is out of the completion and BYC is through to the next round.
Both teams played a see-saw game, resorting to entertaining football in the midfield with occasional drives for the goals that did not come. Agitated fans could not understand why BYC was not making use of several scoring chances created.
George Williams was at his best, ably supported by Trokon Myers, Isaac Popo and left winger Prince Saydee, whose accomplishment was evidently succeeded by Nymely’s wonderful goal.
Kotoko’s attacks centered on midfielder Rahim Ayew, whose torches sent the ball to team-mates who could not make use of the few chances that came their way. However, unable to open up their game, Kotoko played cautiously which suited BYC fairly well.
Perhaps with their 2-1 first leg win in Ghana, Kotoko players were less aggressive which seemed to affect BYC.
BYC responded and kept pressure on Kotoko and kept goalkeeper Abdullahi busy. Kotoko wasted the first of its four corner-kicks in the 16th minute. BYC had several direct-kicks where were wasted.
As the game progressed, Barrack Young Controllers resorted to passes from the midfield but the few chances created by Trokon Myers and Isaac Popo could not materialize into goals.
Kotoko on the other hand could not exert their authority on the game and their winger Prince Baffoe was held on his tracks by Alpha James who made Baffoe very much ineffective.
Resuming the second session, BYC played their usual game and Kotoko also responded in kind. BYC did not seem more aggressive than Kotoko and the tide only changed when Blamo Nymely and diminutive player Benjamin Ghamy came in the second half to reinforce the striking force.
Ghamy announced his presence with forceful attacks which helped the midfield in building their attacks against Kotoko but the game remained as if it was going for a draw.
The Antoinette Tubman Stadium, packed with thousands of soccer fans, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf waited patiently for a miracle to happen.
The miracle happened in the 89th minute to send the Liberian champions into the new round of the CAF Championship League.
The 1-0 victory made an aggregate score of 2-2 but BYC has qualified for the next round, due to the away-goal rule for the goal they scored in Ghana during their 2-1 loss in the first round first leg. The 89th minute goal has made all the difference, ending Asante Kotoko’s dream in the 2014 CAF Championship League.
BYC: Nathaniel Sherman, Alpha James, Blama Kamara, Prince Jetoe, Teah Dennis, Junior Barshall, George Williams, Isaac Popo, Trokon Myers, Prince Sayedee, Lamine Jabateh: sub: Sporo Somah, Blamo Nymely, Benjamin Ghamy.
Kotoko: Soulama Adbullahi, Amos Frimpong, Ben Adama, Abieku Ainooson, Kwabena Adusei, Rahim Ayew, Richard Mpong, Jordan Opoku, Siedu Bancey, Larbi Koomson, Prince Baffoe.