By James K. Attaglo Wilson| info @sports24ghana.com
The tale of two halves diced game that has characterized the Hearts/Kotoko rivalry in recent times came to bear yet again on Sunday when the two sides met in the outstanding match of the 2017 Ghana Premier League at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
Going into the game, some supporters of the Porcupine Warriors had come out to openly register their displeasure at the decision of their management to play the match claiming that their players were not medically in tuned to play such a high profile game.
But, the medical team of the club issued a counter statement that the team was medically fit to play except Ollenu Ashittey and Michael Akuffo who are yet to recover from the motor accident that rocked Asante Kotoko on the Nkawkaw-Kumasi highway four weeks ago.
Both Hearts and Kotoko displayed great tactical prowess in the first half especially the visitors [Hearts of Oak] exposing the holes in Kotoko’s midfield a couple of times with Leonard Tawiah and Samudeen Ibrahim toppling Jackson Owusu and Baba Mahama in the third half battle.
Richard Akrofi and Thomas Abbey also combined excellently on the left to extinct the attacking threat of Emmanuel Gyamfi who looked lethargic in the first 45 minutes.
Going to attack, Hearts of Oak’s attacking midfield anchor [Winful Cobbinah] was on top of issues, sharing passes with Patrick Razak and Kwame Kizito like a father sharing toffees on a Christmas Day except that Asante Kotoko’s central defensive pair – Awal Mohammed and Ahmed Adams were just marvelous at the back whilst defensive midfielder, Jackson Owusu tried to put the fear of God into Winful Cobbinah.
Hearts of Oak’s first attempt at goal came from the right boot of Samudeen Ibrahim, who tweaked a spectacular shot from 23-yards away but his effort went a shade beyond the bar.
Patrick Razak followed it up with another bullet from outside the box few minutes after but Felix Annan in post for Asante Kotoko was equal to the task as he dived acrobatically to his left to save the Porcupine Warriors.
Asante Kotoko defensive midfield anchors – Seth Opare and Jackson Owusu defended quite very well but they gave out too many faulty passes which forced Baba Mahama and Obed Owusu to withdraw back most times rendering Saddick Adams redundant as Vincent Atinga policed him high up the field.
In the second half, however, the pendulum swung in favour of Asante Kotoko as Emmanuel Gyamfi started finding his feet in the game, but it was the Phobians who drew the first blood in the 57th minute through Kwame Kizito.
Winful Cobbinah picked the ball from deep midfield, juggled with the ball forward towards Kotoko’s goal area before releasing a state of the art blind pass to Fatau Mohammed, who curled the ball to Kwame Kizito who was lurking in the box to hit the ball beyond Felix Annan.
The Porcupine Warriors quickly regrouped and pressed Hearts of Oak deep into their own half with Saddick Adams starting to beat Atinga to his own rhythm and subsequently scored from the spot in the 70th minute.
Meanwhile, the best chance of the game came the way of Saddick Adams in time added on when he was put through in the box but the striker haven’t realized that goalkeeper Ben Mensah had closed him down decided to swerve the Hearts goalie, but unfortunately missed the post by a whisker in the process leaving the game at 1-1 in the end.
Asante Kotoko: Felix Annan, Amos Frimpong [Captain], Augustine Sefa, Ahmed Adams, Awal Mohammed, Jackson Owusu, Emmanuel Gyamfi, Seth Opare, Saddick Adams, Obed Owusu, Baba Mahama.
Hearts of Oak: Ben Mensah, Fatau Mohammed, Richard Akrofi, Reuben Gnagne, Vincent Atinga, Leonard Tawiah, Patrick Razak, Samudeen Ibrahim, Kwame Kizito, Winful Cobbinah, Thomas Abbey [Captain].