Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak prepare to lock horns for the first time this season at the Babayara sports stadium on Week 10 of the Ghana premier league.
SportsworldGhana’s Gariba Raubil reviews the season of both sides so far ahead of the big game.
The season so far in retrospect, Asante Kotoko
After the club were dumped out of the CAF Confederation Cup by Congolese side CARA Brazzaville under the former coach Steven Polack, Ghana Black Starlet manager Paa Kwesi Fabin was brought in to lead the Porcupine Warriors in the 2018 league season and after nine games the win – draw – lose record of Fabin and his team is 4-2-3. The club has scored eight times whilst conceding seven goals.
In terms of league placement Kotoko are 4th with 14 points and are three points behind league leaders Asahntigold who have played a game less.
Striker Frederick Boateng has given his side three goals from his first four league games after his delayed registration was finally completed and Fred – who last played for Inter Allies in the league – is fast becoming a real danger man for Fabin’s side.
However what Kotoko are yet to convince their fans is how they can play top games – like in Wa – on regular basis. It is still a fact that Kotoko have not won league games in a row this season and of course for a team that is fighting for the league title, consecutive wins should not be accidental but a MUST.
Apart from the rise of striker Fred, other names have emerged. Prince Acquah is becoming such a commanding figure in the middle of team. In Wa when Fabin had to make changes to his starting line-up those affected were Jackson Owusu – replaced by youngster Douglas Owusu and Eric Donkor – replaced by Tuffour Frimpong. Michael Yeboah also started ahead of AKwasi Nti who was deployed as a right winger against Chelsea in Kumasi.
Hearts of Oak, the journey with Wellington
From Frank Nuttall to Henry Odartey Wellington, the transition was made. Nuttall led the club to an impressive 3rd place finish in his first season but his ending was bad. He was accused of tapping up his own Hearts of Oak players not to renew their contracts in order to sign for other clubs with Nuttall reportedly receiving a percentage of the fees involved.
Not even taking Hearts of Oak to their first FA Cup final since 2000 could force the Hearts board to pardon him. He was sacked and Wellington given the full backing to lead the club.
After nine games into the season, Hearts of Oak – 11th on 11 points- are only two places above the relegation zone in the 16-club league. Three wins, 2 draws and 4 losses.
Hearts of Oak are having a difficult season but they still boast of the second best attack of the league with their 11 goals scored in 9 games. Only WAFA – 12 goals – have scored more than the Phobians.
Rather the biggest Achille heels of the club is their number of conceded goals which stand at 14 after Week 9. To allow in 14 goals in 9 games is certainly abysmal.
In the last two games against Karela United (beaten 3-1) and Berekum Chelsea (1-1) assistant coach Edward Nii Odoom has been in charge due to Wellington’s ailment but the much needed consistency of good results haven’t been achieved.
Individually new signing Joseph Esso – who joined from Dwarfs – has been brilliant scoring three goals. Patrick Razak led the wins against Dwarfs and Dreams FC scoring in both encounters and even against Chelsea it was the petit winger that came off the bench to salvage a point for his team at the Babayara scoring a 90th minute equalizer. He’s been key.
However whilst some individuals have shown some brilliance the overall outcome after 9 games is rather poor. 11th place, beaten four times and conceded 14 goals is bad enough for a club of the size of Hearts of Oak.
The Phobians have not been compact and have made themselves easy to be beaten. For example against Karela, Hearts took the lead in the 10th minute through Daniel Kordie but after 90 mins the scoreline read – Karela United 3 Hearts of Oak 1. At Berekum Chelsea the Phobians left the Golden City park empty handed in terms of goals scored and points with Chelsea thumping them 3-0.
Soccer teams are like the military. The military does two main things – attack and defend. But Hearts of Oak so far do only one of them – attack but they never defend well.