Bofoakwa Tano made a long-awaited return to premier league football in Ghana after defeating Techiman Eleven Wonders 7-6 on penalties to win the zonal playoff in Accra yesterday to pick the third ticket to the topflight league as winners of Zone One of the Access Bank Division One League.
Onetime giants, Bofoakwa, won the match the hard way after the two sides failed to produce a winner in a pulsating game which ended 1-1 after gruelling and exhaustive end to end action lasting 120 minutes (90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes extra time), leaving the tie to be settled through the lottery of a nerve-racking shootout.
They join Nations FC (Zone Two) and Kpando Heart of Lions (Zone Three) to the betPawa Premier League next season.
In securing promotion to the elite division after 16 years in the second-tier league, also regarded as ‘football wilderness’, goalkeeper Emmanuel Kobi displayed moments of heroics during the tie-breaking shoot-out to ensure Sunyani had another taste of premiership football. After a perfect execution of the first five kicks by both sides, Bofoakwa missed the sixth kick and the lot fell of Eleven Wonders’ Osman Zakari to score the winning goal, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Kobi.
And when it mattered most, the Bofoakwa shot stopper dived to his right and parried away Osei Asibey’s kick to secure victory and promotion for his side as the stadium erupted to spontaneous celebration by players, officials and supporters of Bofoakwa.
In a drama-filled clash which saw two goals by Bofoakwa, one in either half, rightly being disallowed by referee Latif Adaari, Leslie Aryietey finally put the Sunyani-based side ahead after converting a spot kick just three minutes into the game, after goalkeeper Sulemana Adama Rashid brought down Enoch Abuu while advancing with the ball.
Just after recess, Osman Zakari cancelled the lead when he headed home a well taken corner kick.
Bofoakwa had the lion’s share of ball possession, but the early goal could cow Eleven Wonders into submission as they also made some occasional forays into their opponent’s goal area but failed to find the back of the net.
Until injuries dealt Eleven Wonders a major blow and forced their coach, Logosu Mensah, to make two quick substitutions in the first half, Clement Boahen emerged the brightest spot in the team with his deft touches which forced the Bofoakwa defenders to work extra hard.
Bofoakwa relied on counter-attacks to catch Eleven Wonders off guard, and one of such quick breaks resulted in a foul at the edge of the penalty box for a free-kick and the resultant kick found Saka Dauda who tapped home what would have increased the lead, but the goal was disallowed and ruled offside.
Before then, Eleven Wonders had made some threats to the goal area of Bofoakwa with Boahen making impressive run into the vital area to spot Prince Baffoe but his feeble header could not beat goalkeeper Kobi.
By the 30th minute, Bofoakwa had gained control of the game as they dictated the pace but missed several goal scoring opportunities, including Francis Mawuli’s shot at goal which went over the crossbar after he was set up by teammate, Aryietey. Eleven Wonders returned from the break strongly and immediately went into attack, profiting from a 46th minute corner kick which Osman Zakari soared above his markers to head home the equaliser.
Their fighting spirit was immediately rekindled by the goal with a belief that they could get the breakthrough but Bofoakwa coach, Fuseini Abubakar, reshuffled his team by introducing Bashiru Abu and Solomon Abletey which changed the game in favour of his team.
As Bofoakwa battled to restore their lead, Saka Dauda made a brilliant move in the 59th minute when he cut in from the flanks to locate an unmarked Enoch Abuu but saw his shot hit the crossbar much to the dismay of the fans.
The Sunyani lads continued to pile the pressure and in the 70th minute again hit the back of the net from a free-kick which bounced off the woodwork and fell to Aryietey who tapped the ball home but was flagged offside.
After soaking up the pressure for so long, Eleven Wonders had an opportunity to kill off the game on the 90 minutes when Bofoakwa defender, Gerald Addo, slipped in an attempt to clear the ball, but with just the opposing goalkeeper at his mercy, Zakari shot wide.
Another 30 minutes of extra time failed to produce a goal, throwing the game into a shoot-out.