Monday, February 9, 2009


ACCRA Hearts of Oak confused Kumasi Asante Kotoko with a 24-carat gold performance, and handed them with their first home defeat in the Glo Premier League.
Before a milling crowd at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi yesterday, the Phobians upended their bitterest rivals 2-1 and widened the gap between them and their close challengers, Kotoko, on the league table by seven points.
The two bitter rivals illuminated their age-old rivalry in this ninth week encounter and the fans never regretted having paid to watch the match.
At least 100 football fans collapsed in the jammed stands from sweltering heat and a fire tender had to spray water into the stands to save lives.
The relatively young Hearts team were never overawed by the big names in the Kotoko set up and created so much panic in the Kotoko area that should have seen them score at least three goals in the first half.
However striker Samuel Afum, was a disaster, failing to put the ball into the net on three occasions when he came face to face with Soulama Abdoulaye in the Kotoko post.
Hearts seized the midfield right from kick-off with total display of fluid soccer from Esme Mends, Kofi Abanga and Francis Bossman, and overshadowed Kotoko’s midfield of Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Jordan Opoku and Daniel Nii Adjei.
As the game wore on it became evident that Kotoko were in for the match of their lives and on the 11th minute, Hearts fetched the first goal.
A Hassan Mohammed run down the right created trouble in the Kotoko area and Hassan took advantage of the situation to tuck the ball in.
The visiting team grew in confidence by the minute and kept their opponents under pressure.
At the rear, Godwin Osei Bonsu, Karim Alhassan, Hassan Mohammed and Eric Nyarko were in superb form shrugging off the little pressure from Alex Asamoah, Stephen Manu and Francis Coffie, while they pushed the team to launch their own attacks.
On the flip side, the Kotoko defence men were not rock solid, and the few times they fumbled and tumbled but striker Affum missed the opportunities.
The Porcupine Warriors came into the game briefly and managed to put the ball into the net on 37 minutes but assistant referee Haruna Ayuba's flag was up for offside positioning.
Samuel Inkoom was booked for dangerous play and as pressure mounted on the Kotoko technical bench, they pulled out Francis Coffie for Kwadwo Poku in the 38th minute and the home side came into the picture strongly in the second half.
Desperate not to drop points, Kotoko pressed for the equaliser forcing Hearts to make mistakes while Bossman was booked in the 50th minute.
When it appeared Kotoko were going to claw back the goal, Hearts caught them on the wrong foot again with the second goal.
A lightning counter-attack on 57 minutes saw play maker Obed Ansah running strongly with the ball to beat a hapless Soulama.
The goal sapped the spirit left in the Kotoko team and when strong defender Osei Bonsu persistently made light work of Alex Asamoah and left Kotoko bereft of ideas.
As Kotoko players kept falling in the Hearts area following tackles, Referee William Agbovi ignored appeals for penalty some of them much to the annoyance of the Kotoko supporters.
Hearts brought on Charles Taylor and Tawrick Jibril but the two failed to make the needed impact in the game.

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