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Kotoko players & officials attacked in Berekum

There were gory scenes at Berekum on Sunday as Ghana league champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko were brutally assaulted by ambushed supporters of Berekum Arsenal after their week-26 Premier League encounter leaving several players and officials of the Porcupine Warriors wounded with their team bus completely vandalised.

The unfortunate incident happened minutes after the match as several supporters of the home club who had armed themselves with weapons ranging from sharp knives, clubs, metal cables and blocks attacked the Kotoko team bus from building tops, windows and street as the Kumasi-based side made their way out of the town.

Police had to fire warning shots to disperse the rowdy crowd as they tried to assault the match officials with several objects being thrown unto the pitch. The heavy presence of the police officials could not deter the wild fans until a military reinforcement was called from Sunyani to ensure the safe evacuation of the referees as well. Asante Kotoko head coach Mas-Ud Dramani who was whisked from the grips of the incensed fans told Goal Ghana: “In fact I am very shocked about how the whole incident happened.”

“I am not sure of how it started but we knew how they would behave after the match but we didn’t think it will get to this because I was nearly lynched by the mob and luckily I was whisked into someone’s car before we bolted away,” he added.

The Kotoko team bus together with several other affected vehicles had to be lined up at the Berekum Municipal Police station as the officials and vehicle owners made their individual reports to the police.

Some of the players and officials who sustained various degrees of injuries were treated by the team of medical personnel who had heard the incident and followed up to the Police station.

Black Stars defender Rashid Sumaila who sustained bruises to his head and shoulder said, “I have seen some attacks and mobs at other centers as they throw sachet water into the pitch but to follow a team bus for this distance and start and attack like this is very strange.”.

“I know many will understand that it is because of some of these incidents that we must definitely push some players out of the country to seek good football elsewhere,” a totally devastated Sumaila added.

Asante Kotoko bus driver Kofi Berkye who was hailed for saving the lives of the players and staff on board by preventing the bus from somersaulting and veering off from his main lane into another as the attackers got closer also said, “I could have died and everybody could have died because nobody knew their fate but I had to take control of the steering because that was also my job after the players and technical men did theirs on the pitch.”

“I am glad that nothing happened but for my 12-year service with this club as a driver, I have never witnessed this shameful attacks before.”.

The Berekum Municipal police commander DSP Asare Bediako also told Goal, “We haven’t made any arrest yet but I assure all that my men will try our best to bring the perpetrators of this acts to book by tomorrow morning.”

The Berekum venue is noted for hooliganism as several teams and referees have gone under several premeditated attacks. Last season, the relegation-threatened club were banned for four home matches after supporters nearly lynched a match official to death for refusing to award them a corner kick in injury time.

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