No, that is another league game. Hearts versus Kotoko reverberates beyond the stadium or venue. It is a game every Ghanaian wants to see and talk about.
Ghana’s two best clubs meet at the Accra Sports Stadium for the 98th time in the league. Many coaches have lost their jobs in this fixture, never to recover from the ignominy of defeat; a lot of careers have been retired and a few revived; heroes have been born and villains (no you do not want to be one)
Exactly a season ago, this fixture was between first on the log, Asante Kotoko (P 23 W 14 D 7 L 2), and second placed Hearts (P 23 W 8 D 9 L 4) with 10-points separating the two teams. This time around, it’s ninth placed Hearts of Oak (P 23 W 8 D 8 L 7) against third-placed Asante Kotoko (P 23 W 10 D 11 L 2.)
Hearts of Oak are looking for a first win over Kotoko in the league in three years. The Phobians were tagged the team to wrestle the league title from defending Champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko prior to the season. But that script did not materialise as the Rainbow Club have fallen behind Kotoko and leaders Medeama SC in the league, with the ebb of their season being a sojourn in the relegation zone.
A mini-revival in the second round has seen Hearts lose only once in the last 12 games in 2013. David Duncan and his men have turned a corner but the biggest test of the season Kumasi Asante Kotoko stands before them.
Talking of Hearts and struggles, well it has not been all too smooth-sailing for Asante Kotoko and the incessantly under pressure Didi Dramani. Ten wins, 11 draws and only two defeats in the league for the former Black Maidens coach, plus a fillip of winning back their title – a point behind Medeama SC – has not impressed the fastidious Fabulous fans. Who can begrudge them? The triumphant sweep of the title last season, under Maxwell Konadu, has rocketed expectation levels beyond realism.
Lugubriously knocked out of Africa (Caf Champions League) by JSM Bejaia last month, anything short of a league title win will signal the end for Dramani.
In the first round, the Ghanaian heavyweights battled to a goalless drawn game at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in coach David Duncan’s debut game for Hearts. Duncan’s team was battered all over the pitch by Kotoko, but the 10-man Phobians returned to the capital with a proud point. Dramani’s Kotoko will hope to emulate their sublime performance in the first round without the ruefulness in front of goal.
Duncan and Didi Dramani await their first wins in the big game. The bragging right awaits the winner and their fans. Will it be Hearts this time or will the Porcupines spike the revival?