12
Thu, Dec

Flashback Hearts vs Kotoko - File image courtesy of @VincentAtingah

Ghana Premier League
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The predicament of the 11th placed on 11points Rainbow Club has not been eased a bit by an overall record of 3 wins, 2 ties, and 4 losses that has all Championship talk already thrown out the window.
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Supporters of Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak will have their attention focused on Kumasi’s Baba Yara Stadium as the two most storied clubs in the land clash on Match Day 10 of the Ghana Premier League in the first leg of the year’s highly anticipated ‘Super Clash’.

Set for prime time today, it is the only match of the day, and is expected to be a thriller.

Read also: GPL Week 10 Roundup: AshGold stumble against Medeama SC, WAFA hand Dreams FC 5-0 beating, Sharks, Bechem Utd, and Inter Allies all win

Read also: Isaac Dogboe scores 11th-round TKO for junior featherweight title

Following a two game non-winning start to the season (1 draw, 1 loss) and back-to-back victories with Coach Henry Lamptey Wellington in charge of affairs after the canning of Coach Frank Nuttal, the Rainbow Club will head into the match with the odds strongly against them.

Back-to-back losses to unsung second year and first year premier league sides, Elmina Sharks and Karela FC (1-2 and 1-3) at their adopted home of Cape Coast and Anyinase, coupled with a face-saving injury time equalizer against Bechem United at the B. Yara Stadium that saw them avert a third straight loss, has faithful Hearts of Oak fans grumbling and perplexed.

The predicament of the 11th placed on 11points Rainbow Club has not been eased a bit by an overall record of 3 wins, 2 ties, and 4 losses that has all Championship talk already thrown out the window.

Interestingly, Kotoko also axed their then head coach, Steve Pollack, following the club’s poor showing in the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup competition, and handed over the coaching reins to their one-time head coach, Paa Kwesi Fabian, who got them off to a tie, a win, and a loss in his first three games.

But the ninth placed on 14 points, Porcupine Warriors, with an overall record of 4 wins, 2 ties, and 3 losses seem to be slightly better off than their rivals, especially in the goals allowed category.

And unfortunately for the Phobians, although the Porcupine Warriors are not performing at their peak, they are to a large extent, the better of the two clubs at the moment. At home, Kotoko may have had some close calls, but they remain undefeated at home. Offensively challenged as they are, they have won by no more than a goal per game in all of their four home games.  Defensively, they have been much sharper; allowing just 2 goals at home, while maintaining two clean sheets.

And therein lies the major problem of the Phobians. Offensively, Hearts of Oak has been much challenged away from home, scoring just 4 goals in 4 outings, a recipe for full disaster, given the territorial dominance of home teams.

Defensively, the story is not any better for Hearts on the road where they have allowed a total of 7 goals, second and third only to Dreams FC and Inter Allies who have allowed 9 and 10 goals respectively on the road.

For Hearts to have a chance of halting their three-game winless run, they will have to be sharper upfront, as well as end their wastefulness in front of goal. Defensively, they will have to play much better, and whoever is put in charge of the goal keeping department will have to be resourceful and up to the task.

The two sides have split their last four meetings, a win and a tie apiece. Heading into the match, Kotoko has the advantage at home - the pressure is on Coach Henry Wellington and his Rainbow squad to pull out all the stops for the win, or at worst grab a tie.

As to who wins in my book, we will all have to wait as clashes between the two sides quite often goes against the script.

 

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