Two late goals from Kofi Kordzi and Salim Adams were enough as Hearts of Oak saw off stubborn Club Industriel de Kamsar in the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League.
The single leg fixture which came off at the Accra Sports stadium was played in an empty stadium after a late directive by CAF.
It was the first time the Phobians were involved in the CAF Champions League in 13 years and it was evident as they struggled in the early exchanges.
CI Kamsar were comfortable on the ball and threatened in the first quarter of the game. Hearts of Oak had to wait till the 14th minute to get their first shot on target as Isaac Mensah showed good composure in the box but his effort was rather feeble.
The first half came to an end with the game deadlocked as both sides sized up each other.
Although Hearts saw much of the ball in the second half, Kamsar were still resolute.
Samuel Boadu made a chain of attacking substitutions introducing Enoch Asubonteng, Kofi Kordzi and Isaac Agyenim Boateng.
The Phobians threw more bodies upfront as a driving run by Kordzi resulted in Asubonteng being fouled on the edge of the box
Kordzi stepped up and buried the resulting free kick into the corner to give Hearts a well deserved lead.
The one time CAF Champions league winners continued to pile the pressure as Salim Adams smashed a loose ball on the edge of the box into the top corner to double Hearts’ lead.
Substitutes work the magic
Hearts of Oak started the game slowly and needed inspiration from somewhere. Boadu looked to his bench and made a flurry of changes in his bid to win the game in regular time.
Boadu introduced Asubonteng, Kordzi, Boateng, Adams and William Dankyi in the last quarter in search of a goal.
The first goal was made by two substitutes as Kordzi picked the ball from the halfway line and drove towards the penalty area before releasing the ball to Asubonteng who was fouled.
Kordzi stepped and curled ball into the back of the net to give Hearts the lead.
The second goal has made by Asubonteng who beat his man on the left wing before sending a cross which was deflected out only for Adams to hit a rocket beyond the Kamsar keeper.
Boateng was active as well as he helped stretch play. Dankyi kept things tidy in the middle of the park when he replaced Caleb Amankwah.
Boadu’s substitutes stepped up and won the tie for Hearts, a good signal of the squad depth the Accra-based club have.
This team will only get better when Gladson Awako, who has been ill, joins the team.
Hearts keep it late, again
Last season, Hearts of Oak scored 18% of their 45 goals in the league after the 80th minute. It has been a familiar scene under Boadu seeing the Phobians score late goals.
Hears started the tie against Kamsar slowly but grew into the game as time wore on. Hearts once again scored after the 80th minute, this time scoring twice in the 83rd and 90th minute.
After the game, Boadu admitted that his side usually need the full 90 minutes to really capitalise on the weaknesses of their opponents.
“Football is played in 90 minutes or more. So if you did not get opportunity during the first half, you need to strategize and plan well to approach the game how the opponent is playing”
“We need to read the opponent, their strengths and weaknesses. So after the recess, we did that so that helped us to get that two goals.”
The real challenge in the CAF Champions league will be whether stronger sides will allow Hearts to grow into games.
The Phobians will host Wydad Athletic of Morocco in Accra on October 17th in the final stage of the preliminary round.
If Hearts win the tie against Wydad, it’ll be the 5th time they will play in the group stages of the CAF Champions League.
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