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Big Match Preview: Kotoko vs Hearts

Kotoko and Hearts clash in Kumasi on Sunday

Pride and title ambition…These two elements will be imprinted on the victor’s crown when Kotoko and Hearts square off for the fifth time this year in their “footballing war”.

Both sides faced off barely a monthly ago in the President’s Cup but the atmosphere and conditions will be very different as the eternal rivals seek to lay claim on the Premier League title which has eluded Hearts since 2009 and the Porcupine Warriors for two seasons running.

Extra spice will be given to this game as both sides are in contention for the league, a situation which has not been experienced ever since Kosta Papic’s Hearts and the late Herbert Addo’s Kotoko met in Accra in June 2009. This gives the game an extra dimension and extra impetus to go for the priceless points.

There is no love lost between both sides and their fan bases will look to take the slightest chance to portray themselves as the best in Ghana.

It makes for a mouthwatering contest and with a potential spectacle in store….

KOTOKO:

The Porcupine Warriors come into the game on the back of a tragic accident which saw a backroom staff lose his life. Much will not be emphasized on his demise as their British trainer has urged the team to put this unfortunate situation behind them and focus on the work ahead.

Steve Polack said:

“Every player has to be ready for every game. What matters most now is how they will recover from what they went through even after the game.
 
“My players are ready for Sunday and we are going to take the three points.”

Now more than ever, their “Kum Apem Apem B3 Ba” slogan will be put to test. On the sporting front, the record league champions are not very well equipped for the tie as compared to the Phobians. A month without competitive football and coming into the game on the back of a defeat in their last competitive game (Inter Allies) does not make for a good reading. However these situations can well serve as a source of motivation for the team.

TEAM NEWS:

Ashitey Ollenu and Michael Akuffo have been ruled out of the game after failing to get the medical clear and there are also doubts over the fitness of winger Emmanuel Gyamfi who picked up a knock in the local Black Stars win over Accra Great Olympics.

Kotoko are likely to line up in their preferred 4-4-2 formation with Obed Owusu and Sadick Adams leading the line and Seth Opare and Jackson Owusu anchoring the midfield. Felix Annan is set for a place in goal while Amos Frimpong and Eric Donkor will act as full backs. Awal Mohammed and Ahmed Adams could serve the center back pairing. Baba Mahama will continue in his left sided midfield role while Frank Sarfo Gyamfi might take up Emmanuel Gyamfi’s place on the right.

 

HEARTS:

Three straight wins, six scored, one conceded and the Phobians are buoyant heading to the Garden City. Frank Nuttall had seen his side slump in the second round of the league losing three games already but the return of Winful Cobbinah from the Black Stars has served as the catalyst to their good form. The Scotsman has rejigged his team to accommodate all three center backs in his team and that is set to continue against their rivals.

In Thomas Abbey, they seem to have a trump card with his goal-scoring threat. The captain has scored 12 of  the Phobians’ 33 goals this season, representing 36.3% of their goals in the league.

Momentum and match fitness are on their side as well as having the better of Kotoko in the calendar year but the Phobians will have to be wary of their last meeting as Kotoko held their nerve to beat the Phobians in a penalty shoot-out.

TEAM NEWS:

More of the same for Nuttall with Richard Akrofi, Robin Gnagne and Vincent Atingah set to continue in a 3 man backline. Fatawu Mohammed and Isaac Mensah will play as wing-backs with Leonard Tawiah and Winful Cobbinah acting as the central pair in midfield. Kwame Kizito will lead the line up top with support from Thomas Abbey and Patrick Razak.

 

 

 

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