Asante Kotoko succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in their first pre-season friendly against UAE third-tier side Al Hilal United FC Thursday morning.
The friendly match held at Al Hamriyah Sports and Culture Club in Sharjah offered coach Prosper Narteh Ogum to gauge the level his team has reached after close to a month of preparations for the 2021/22 season.
Kotoko, who stepped things up with a two-week training camp in Dubai, did not get an ideal result after dominating the game.
Coach Narteh Ogum had 17 players fully fit for the game and handed starting berth to four new boys – Richard Boadu, Dickson Afoakwa, Clinton Opoku and Joseph Amoako.
The regular faces that completed the starting line-up included Razak Abalora, Christopher Nettey, captain Ganiyu Ismail, Yusif Mubarik, Patrick Asmah, Richard Boadu, Emmanuel Keyekeh and Fabio Gama.
Kotoko should have at least ended the first half a goal up but new boy Dickson shot at goal narrowly missed the target after picking a loose ball in the 32nd minute.
The Porcupines paid for a lapse in concentration four minutes after recess as right-back Christopher Nettey awkwardly turned the ball into his own net.
There had been some changes at halftime with Kwame Baah coming on for Abalora and three others:
🗣️| Pre-season Friendly – Dubai
🕐 Second half changes:
⬅️ Emmanuel Keyekeh, Clinton Opoku, Abalora, Yusif Mubarik
➡️ Richmond Lamptey, Sheriff Mohammed, Kwame Baah, Maxwell Agyemang
— Footy-Ghana.com 🇬🇭 (@FootyGhana) October 14, 2021
Mudasiru Salifu also came in for Richard Boadu. He went on to set up Dickson for the equalizer in the 72nd minute but the winger shockingly blasted wide after doing the more difficult part of beating Al Hilal’s Ghanaian goalkeeper Michael Kofi Kondo.
Five minutes from time, new boy Sheriff Mohammed located Fabio Gama with a pinpoint cross into the far post but the Brazilian failed to connect home.
Al Hilal United held on to their solitary lead courtesy of the Nettey own goal to win 1-0.
Asante Kotoko have confirmed they will play two more matches on October 17 and 20 before ending their Dubai training camp.
The team will be back home on the 22nd, exactly one week to the commencement of the 2021/22 Ghana Premier League.