Liberians stun Kotoko with late winner
17 February 2014, 14:54
Johannesburg - Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko were the major casualties of the CAF Champions League preliminary round after losing 1-0 to Liberians Barrack Young Controllers at the weekend.
Blamo Nimely struck five minutes from time in Monrovia to give Controllers a 1-0 win and a last-32 place in the premier African club football competition.
Champions League debutants Controllers advanced on the away-goal rule having lost the first leg 2-1 in Kumasi last weekend.
Kotoko, popularly called the 'Porcupine Warriors', have been African champions twice and runners-up five times.
They were not expected to be unduly troubled by Barrack given a poor Liberian record in the Champions League with a string of early exits.
But warning lights started flashing after the Ghanaians needed two penalties from national team footballer Kwabena Adusei to win at home.
Kotoko had scoring chances during the return match with Ben Adama foiled by the woodwork midway through the second half.
Richard Mpong was guilty of a bad miss soon after and Controllers took advantage to secure a first-round date with Ivorian outfit Sewe San Pedro.
Berekum Chelsea, the other Ghanaian challengers with a ranking system permitting the top 12 countries to enter two clubs, were lucky not to join Kotoko on the scrap-heap.
They slumped 2-0 away to Atlabara, the first South Sudanese side to play in the Champions League, before scraping through by winning a penalty shootout.
Goalkeeper Iddrisu Danjumah was the Berekum star, saving three consecutive spot-kicks while his team-mate converted three to create a showdown with Libyans Al-Ahly Benghazi.
Enyimba, the lone Nigerian team to lift the Champions League, advanced despite losing 2-1 away against Togolese Anges Notse.
A 3-1 first-leg victory enabled the 'Peoples Elephant' to progress and they will tackle Malians Real Bamako, who eliminated 1985 champions FAR Rabat of Morocco.
Furious at alleged poor treatment and accommodation in Lome, Enyimba also had on-field problems with Kodjo Laba giving Anges a first-half lead.
The Nigerians needed an away goal to ease growing nervousness and it came midway through the second half via Abdulrahman Bashir.
Vincent Tchalla nudged Anges ahead again, but Enyimba denied the Togolese a third goal that would have triggered a shootout
Egyptians Zamalek, whose five Champions League titles is surpassed only by Cairo neighbours Al-Ahly with eight, had a more comfortable passage.
Leading by two goals after the first leg against Nigeriens Douanes, the 'White Knights' won 1-0 in Niamey through a second-half Hazem Emam goal.
Kenyans Gor Mahia were indebted to goalkeeper Jerim Onyango after a penalty-shootout victory over Gabonese US Bitam.
The shot-stopper saved two penalties in regular time as Bitam won 1-0 at home to leave the tie deadlocked on aggregate.
Geoffrey Walusimbi, Rama Salim, Haroun Shakava and Innocent Mutiso netted from the spot as Gor won 4-2 on penalties and will face mighty Tunisians Esperance this month.
There were brave showings from other east African clubs with Zanzibaris KMKM and Rwandans Rayon Sports before bowing out to Ethiopians Dedebit and Congolese AC Leopards respectively.
A Mrisho Ngassa hat-trick helped Tanzanians Young Africans defeat Comorans Komorozine 5-2 away and complete a 10-goal aggregate triumph.
But the first round opposition will be far tougher for the Dar es Salaam outfit as they confront an Ahly squad seeking a record third consecutive African title.