Asante Kotoko’s hopes of reaching the Caf Confederation Cup knockout stages were dealt a blow as they drew 1-1 with Al Hilal in Kumasi on Sunday.
The Porcupine Warriors headed into the game with high hopes, knowing a win will seal qualification after Nkana beat Zesco United 3-0, but were ultimately frustrated by their Sudanese opponents.
Al Hilal after a dominant spell of possession took the lead in the 33rd minute when Waleed Hamid headed home after being left completely unmarked in the box.
After conceding, coach Charles Akonnor made a tactical switch by replacing midfielder Martin Antwi with striker Obed Owusu.
The change ensured Kotoko had more men in the box, resulting in opportunities. Emmanuel Gyamfi – who passed a late fitness test to start – came so close to making it one all before halftime.
The second half saw Kotoko have the lions share of possession and chances. Abdul Shafiu was unlucky not to score when he hit the post twice with freekicks.
Goalkeeper Felix Annan, on the other hand, pulled an astonishing save to deny Hilal a second goal before Songne Yacouba restored parity with few minutes to end proceedings. The Burkinabe striker headed into the net from close range after beating the offside trap.
His goal is only the second time this campaign Kotoko have scored in the second half.
The draw means Kotoko must win their last group game in Zambia against Zesco. Whatever happens between Al Hilal and Nkana matters not, the Kumasi giants simply need a win.
Kotoko have seven points and lie third in group C after five games. Nkana top the table with nine points followed by Hilal with eight points.