All the newspapers, particularly the Kotoko Weekly said Asante Kotoko was ready for Africa and the first casualty should be Liberian champions, Barrack Young Controllers.
It was in the 1/16th preliminary qualifying round of the CAF Championship League at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
Ghanaian soccer fans had expected a massive victory of more than three goals to nothing against the Liberian champions which sadly for them could not happen.
For one thing, while Asante Kotoko was hosting BYC, Berekum Chelsea was scheduled to engage Atlabar FC from South Sudan in another Champions League match while Medeama SC was expected to battle FC Panthers of Equatorial Guinea.
Another Ghanaian club Mysterious Ebusua Dwarfs had Senegalese side Diaraf FC to contend with.
So then Asante Kotoko had the burden to take lead and let other clubs follow.
And the Barrack Young Controllers would be the sacrificial lambs.
Until the game on Sunday, February 9, the mood among Ghanaian soccer fans, particularly those of Asante Kotoko was that of optimism.
Another point that increased their expectation was that during last year’s tournament, Kotoko had eliminated their opponents from Equatorial Guinea 7-1 on goal aggregate.
Kotoko executed a 4-4-2 formation but Barrack Young Controllers had a pack midfield and utilized the wings, one of the few that forced Kotoko to concede the direct kick that Isaac Pupo got the equalizer in the 41st minute to cancel Kotoko’s lead. With Kotoko’s pressure to get goals, BYC recoiled in their defense but with occasional counter-attacks.
Absorbing the pressure from Kotoko, BYC would open up when it was necessary but it was clear that the sustained pressure from Kotoko would crumble their defense, which resulted to Kotoko’s two goals.
For example, BYC made their first attempt in the 19th minute but Junior Barshall sent a feeble shot that goalkeeper Soulama Abdoulaye collected without any problem.
When Isaac Pupo’s direct kick zoomed into the net for the equalizer, it placed enormous pressure on Kotoko since a possible draw could end the dream of the Porcupine Warriors (Asante Kotoko).
Kwabena Adusei restored Kotoko’s lead in the 71st minute from another spot kick won by Seidu Bansey from a 50-50 challenge with BYC’s goalie, Nathaniel Sherman.
Goalkeeper Nathaniel Sherman played a yeoman’s game and stood up gallantly against Kotoko’s several onslaughts which in the end send the whole of Kumasi to an early bed, and as a result prepared a second leg 50-50 chance in Monrovia this coming Sunday.