Friday, March 12, 2010

BABA YARA TO GO GAY...As Kotoko aim at revenge (GRAPHIC SPORTS, BACK PAGE, MARCH 12, 2010)

IT is definitely going to be a huge game on Sunday because whenever Hearts of Oak are in town as guests of age-long rivals Asante Kotoko, expectation of a fantastic afternoon and a big crowd that propel the players to perform, are evident.
Matches between the giants come with a unique appeal and excitement no matter the form the two teams carry.
That is why even in a season when they have not showcased their traditional ebullient posture, their Glo Premier match on Sunday appears set to drive the crowd to the Baba Yara Stadium.
Not even the absence of some of the finest performers in the two camps as a result of national call can diminish the interest so much generated in the match in the city of Kumasi.
Kotoko will be doing battle minus two of their great midfield actors, Jordan Opoku and Danuel Nii Adjei, while Hearts will miss their trusted skipper Karim Alhassan and club leading scorer Mahatma Otoo who are both on national assignment with the local Black Stars.
As Hearts head for Kumasi they appear in high spirits, having beaten city rivals Great Olympics 1-0 in Accra last Sunday to remain in the top four, while Kotoko managed a 1-1 draw with Sekondi Hasaacas to toil at the wrong end of the league.
But it is probably good that the Porcupine Warriors are playing Hearts at this time as it offers an opportunity to tell others out there that they are ready to restore their top-flight status.
Paa Kwesi Fabin’s side are under pressure to improve following the dreadful run in the local league and their first round exit from the CAF Champions League.
Kotoko has been criticized for lack of goals, power and drive and a victory over Hearts of Oak could restore some hope in their supporters.
Indeed, Asante Kotoko have been unable to show character to the last minute, but matches between them and their arch rivals are different ball games, where results swing when least expected.
Over the years, Kotoko and Hearts have fought several unblemished classics and the urge to get to the summit of the league currently occupied by new entrants, Aduana Stars, should catapult them to stage one of the fiercest battles in recent times.
Against the background of history, Hearts of Oak who gained a 1-0 victory over Kotoko in the first leg would surely be aiming at the double, but the question remains whether Kotoko would capitulate under the threat.
Kotoko appear favourites on home soil, but with Hearts comparatively better in the season, they can provide the quality to match their opponents squarely.
The Phobians are aware they need to get at least a point from the match in view of the seemingly difficult matches ahead of them in the league.
But Kotoko still present a formidable block for Eric Gawu and strike partner, Samuel Affum who are expected to lead the Hearts attack.
The home side will rely on Kabiru Moro and Baffour Gyan in attack with support services from Edward Affum and Hanura Ganiyu.
Hearts are likely to play Baba Sampana in post while Kotoko feature Isaac Amoako, and the barriers their respective defences would mount in front of them will count a lot in the score line to be recorded.
It is refreshing that the police had assured of tight security on Sunday but much would depend on the way the fans and match officials comport themselves to avoid a repetition of last year’s incident when some lives were lost in the stands as a result of suffocation.
In the rest of the pairings, Olympics host King Faisal at the El-Wak Stadium, Ashgold face RTU at the Len Clay Stadium, Obuasi, while Liberty play as guests of Kessben at Abrankese.
Meanwhile, the Premier League Board(PLB) has postponed the game involving Wise and Heart of Lions at Sekondi as well as the clash between All Stars and Hasaacas at Wa.
The matches, according to the PLB, have been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 17, because Lions and All Stars have contributed three players each to the local Black Stars who play their Burkinabe counterparts in a CHAN qualifying duel in Ouagadougou on Sunday.
In another development, the PLB has also rescheduled the match between Chelsea and New Edubiase at Berekum for tomorrow to enable Arsenal honour their home game against Liberty at the same venue on Sunday.

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