Aduana Stars came from behind to draw 3-3 against Moroccan side Raja Casablanca in a match day 2 encounter of the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup.
Substitute Nathaniel Asamoah scored an injury time equalizer after Benhalib Mahmoud’s brace had helped Raja to a 2-3 lead in front of a packed to capacity Nana Agyemang Badu II stadium in Dormaa.
The game got off to a blistering start with Aduana immediately down the end at kick off.
Noah Martey found Sam Adams free on the right side before the diminutive winger sent a cross shot that Zniti Anas parried on the line.
Aduana players claimed the ball crossed the line but referee waved play on and Raja immediately countered with electrifying pace.
Aduana’s defenders were struggling to get back and goalkeeper Joseph Addo was forced to leave the 18 yard area to try and stop the ball but he missed the clearance and Benhalib Mahmoud played Hadraf Zakaria through. But by the time he controlled and aimed a short on target, Anokye Badu had recovered to clear the goal-bound effort off the line.
Raja’s game plan was clear from the opening exchanges; cede possession to Aduana and counter with pace.
And it didn’t take long for Raja’s game plan to bite first. But not without help from Aduana’s defense. Justice Anane was caught sleeping as Aduana tried to set an offside trap and played Mahmoud onside who finished with ease.
Dormaa was silenced but only momentarily. The impressive Sam Adams forced a save from Anas moments before Congolese winger Oba Ikama, playing in the place of the absent Zakaria Mumuni, smashed in a thumping rebound after Derrick Sasraku’s shot was parried back in play by Anas.
Aduana were leveled and the heat was on. Not just on the Raja defense but inside the Nana Agyemang Badu II stadium as the referee called for a water break.
Aduana dominated without creating much as Raja got upfield intermittently and purposefully. Zakaria aimed a tame effort at Addo before Aduana’s carelessness at the back was punished again.
First, Caleb Amankwah gave away a needless corner kick when he could have cleared before poor marking allowed Lema Mabidi to head home the resulting corner kick at the far post, unmarked.
Aduana were reeling while Raja headed to the break in the lead and looking comfortable.
Back from recess, Aduana wasted no time in pulling parity. Caleb Amankwah connected Sam Adams’ corner kick to head in for 2-2.
It was redemption for the former WAFA man who was at fault for Raja’s second goal.
Aduana continued to pile pressure on Raja’s back line. Derrick Sasraku’s carpet shot beat Anas but came off the post before Anas then pushed the rebound from Sam Adams out for a corner which was cleared.
At this point Aduana appeared to have the momentum. But Raja delivered the sucker punch just minutes later.
On the counter, Benhalib Mahmoud curled in a beauty from 17 yards with his second of the afternoon. Aduana had to do it all over again. For the third time in the game, they were behind.
Yussif Abubakar brought on experienced attacker and former Raja Casablanca striker Nathaniel Asamoah in a hail Mary move that paid dividend right at the death as he smashed in the equalizer in injury time after a couple of early misses.
It was a crazy game whichever way you look at it. Raja could have had a 4th and a 5th even, but even Mahmoud who had twice punished Aduana’s mistakes, appeared to be dazed by the amount space left behind the Aduana defence.
In the end, Aduana would feel this was a point gained rather than three lost. But by the very nature of the game, they would be disappointed they didn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck from the onset.
By: Fentuo Tahiru/citinewsroom.com/Ghana