Friday, February 6, 2009


WITHOUT a shred of doubt, Kumasi Asante Kotoko look better equipped against Accra Hearts of Oak in terms of quality materials for Sunday’s showdown.
Some good purchases in the off-season had added to the already fine side and when they find form, the Porcupine Warriors could be so venomous.
Kotoko are trailing four points behind leaders Hearts of Oak on the league table but ahead of the big match on Sunday, they start as favourites.
That notwithstanding, inconsistent domestic form this season should send strong signals to Asante Kotoko that possessing the materials alone does not necessarily make a good team.
In a potentially high tempo game against their arch rivals, the Porcupine Warriors can only profit from the quality available by getting on the job without any fuss.
From their base in Accra, Hearts of Oak have been firing warning shots at Kotoko and on Sunday when the two big fishes clash in the ninth week Glo premier match, the over 44,000 fans at the Baba Yara Stadium would surely be in for something special from the giants.
Both sides have strong traditions that make nonsense of form guide in their matches. Arguably, results of their matches have been determined by superior mental toughness and this would come to play on Sunday.
The pitch will be filled with players who have the capacity to change the course of the game. On Kotoko’s side, Samuel Inkoom, Alex Asamoah, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Kwadwo Poku are great performers in their own right while Hearts of Oak come with Charles Taylor, Obed Ansah and Eric Gawu.
Taylor would have been a mammoth inclusion for Hearts in the past but the same cannot be said of him today as he had been bogged by injuries in recent times.
However, Taylor’s mere presence in the game having played for Kotoko some few years back after a rancorous transfer from Hearts would provide another interesting dimension to the game.
Samuel Inkoom will receive serious attention from the fans in the Kotoko set up today. He has been engineering space on the right to release the ball into firing range for the strikers while he scores himself.
The Hearts of Oak defence will have to work extra hard to contain the pressure from the Kotoko attack. Coach Kosta Papic is likely to play the experienced Daniel Coleman and Hassan Mohammed alongside the young but gritty Osei Bonsu and Karim Alhassan at the back.
How the defence fights it out with Stephen Manu, Alex Asamoah, and Agyemang Badu should the former Berekum Arsenal offensive midfielder be included in the Kotoko set up would be interesting.
Kotoko and Hearts have fought several pitch battles and one of the good things about the two sides is that any time they clash, they whet the appetite of lovers of the game.
But they also have their dark spot. Accusations and counter accusations tend to create unnecessary tensions and hecklings, which provide a blot on the local game.
That is why 36- year-old FIFA referee, William Agbovi, who accepted to handle the match after others had declined would have to be courageous to underline his status as one of the best on the continent.
It will be the fifth time Agbovi will handling a Kotoko-Hearts match, and as he did in the past, he must prove the critics wrong
That security personnel are bracing themselves for the task ahead to ensure that the match is played in an atmosphere of peace is appropriate, judging by past experiences.

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