Accra Hearts of moved two places up the Ghana premier league table – from 11th to 9th position – after beating sworn rivals Asante Kotoko on Sunday at the Babayara sports stadium.
Hearts of Oak despite their recent good run of league results against Kotoko in Kumasi, entered the Week 10 game as the underdogs as they lied just two places above the relegation zone and had been beaten four times already by Ashantigold, Berekum Chelsea, Elmina Sharks and Karela United conceding 11 goals in these four defeats.
But somehow, someway, they deservedly left the Babayara sports stadium on Sunday as winners of what is the biggest fixture of the league in terms of the clubs size, size of fan base and historical success wise, making sure their sworn rivals do not add their name to the list of clubs that have beaten them this season.
The mentality was different, the approach was different and so was the quality of play. It is Kotoko their special opponents who always deserve special attention and that was just what we saw.
Prince Acquah injury forced substitution
Paa Kwesi Fanin was forced to make a change to his first eleven players after just five minutes of play as midfielder Acquah got injured. Fabin who had three midfielders Akwasi Nti, Obed Owusu and Douglas Owusu Ansah decided to go for the youngster Douglas.
Douglas was not exceptional but he was not also bad apart from the fact that it was against him that Cobbinah won possession in the middle of the pitch to set up Razak for what will defeat the home side eventually.
The 65th minute Phobian breakthrough
After a very close first half, Patrick Razak – the smallish winger who joined as an unknown quantity from second tier side Tamale Utrecht in the second half of the 2016 season – broke the deadlock in the 65th minute on the service of playmaker Winful Cobbinah. Cobbinah , as lively as he was, intercepted a ball in the middle and won possession against Douglas Owusu to locate the Razak who cut inside beating Amos Frimpong and Awudu Nafiu before delivering a terrific strike that beat goalkeeper Felix Annan, completely.
FACT YOU MUST KNOW – In the last 10 league away matches Hearts of Oak have played against Kotoko in Kumasi, the Phobians have now won five times, drew four times and lost just once (in 2011.12 season).
Big debut Songne Yacouba.
Kotoko lost the game and that is a negative result but one highlighted positive thing we saw in the game was the massive debut Yacouba had. He was the face behind two of the most dangerous Kotoko moments in the game – all from set pieces. First in the 34th minute Hearts of Oak goalkeeper Benjamin Mensah was called to duty when the Malian attacker unleashed a powerful freekick only for Ben to save it. Yacouba was not done yet as he engaged Ben Mensah again in the 55th minute with another well-taken freekicj but the former Edubiase United man on both occasions saved the dangers.
Patrick Razak is becoming a reliable man
Razak scored the equalizer against Bechem United during Week 9 at the same Babayara and against Kotoko when his team needed a goalscorer he was still the one to repeat the dose. Fast becoming the dangerous player he needs to be as he grows , game after game, this season. On 4 goals this season he is the highest goalscorer for his team and he could score more. He was a constant threat to the Kotoko defence throughout the whole duration of the game.
Solid defending, Hearts of Oak.
Whilst Patrick Razak won the man of the match award and there is no argument , credits must also be given to the commanding display of goalkeeper Ben Mensah, center backs Inusah Musah and Benjamin Agyare who made sure they leave Kumasi with a clean sheet. If Kotoko’s long ball approach did not work, it was thanks to the aerial supremacy of Musah and Agare who won majority of the battles in the air against Frederck Boateng and Yacouba.
This was certainly a better defending but how regular are we going to see this, Hearts of Oak?
Hearts of Oak are back at home against Accra rivals Liberty Professionals. And for Asante Kotoko, they hit the road to Anyinase to take on Karela United.