Accra Hearts of Oak defended the MTN-FA Cup, humbling Bechem United 2-1 in their final encounter at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, yesterday.
It was the 41st edition of the competition and the Phobians, by the victory, have won 13 times since its inception in 1958.
Bechem has won once, and wanted to increase the tally, but failed woefully in the well-attended encounter.
Both teams started the game fiercely in search of an early goal, but Bechem appeared to dominate the early stages and nearly got the opener as Paul Kwei Junior came agonizingly close to scoring in the third and seventh minutes respectively, but keeper Richard Ayi made a smart save to deny the impressive Bechem lads.
But earlier in the fifth minute, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh watched in awe as his drive in the box swung across the face of goal with no one to connect.
The Phobians soaked the pressure and began to find their rhythm and played brilliantly from then, but Bechem again took control, evoking the loudest roar from the home crowd when Augustine Okrah’s net-bound drive was punched into play for Emmanuel Avornyo to blast home in the 45th minute, setting the stadium ablaze.
But Bechem’s celebration was shortlived as Hearts perked up and pushed men forward with Caleb Amankwah cancelling the lead with an angled drive from 20 yards in the second minute of the three minutes added on time.
In the second half, the intensity gauge was ramped up, with Bechem still pressing hard, but it was the Phobians who turned their superiority into a lead when Afriyie Barnieh beautifully connected Gladson Awako’s relay on the hour mark.
Disaster hit the camp of Bechem when their playmaker Augustine Okrah was given a matching-off order by Referee Abdul Latif Adaari, as he head-butted the assistant referee whilst challenging a throw-in decision against his club in the 68th minute. He let his side down gravely.
Hearts was expected to take advantage of the reduced strength of their opponents, but seemed complacent with the scoreline as the many changes could not change the trajectory of the game.
Yesterday’s victory means that Hearts will be representing Ghana in the CAF Confederation Cup as well as clash with league winners and rivals Asante Kotoko in the Champions of Champions game on September .
FROM KINGSLEY E. HOPE, KUMASIRead Full Story