The Porcupine Warriors meet their nemeses for the third time within five months and will hope to avenge their previous defeats
On Sunday, Kumasi will be buzzing as the two most glamorous clubs in the country—
Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak —clash at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in the 2017 edition of the President Cup organised by Ghlaca.
This fixture will be the third meeting between the two this season after Hearts defeated Kotoko 1-0 in a league game in March before thrashing them 3-1 during Ghana’s 60th Independence Anniversary Cup at the Accra Sports Stadium on May 1 following a howler by goalkeeper Felix Annan.
Interestingly, both defeats were under the guidance of coach Zdravko Lugarusic and Frimpong Manso, who were subsequently shown the door, due in no small part to the underwhelming showings.
Kotoko, now under Steve Polack, who joined the club barely two months ago, look a rejuvenated side. The Kumasi giants have gradually put the pieces together to climb up the league log to fourth, eight points behind leaders Wafa after a series of uninspiring performances.
They’re also in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after their narrow win over Wassaman United.
In all, Kotoko are unbeaten in their last seven games with ten more matches still to play, and the supporters are now filled with the confidence to defend the honour they won last season ahead of the Phobians’ visit.
The last time Hearts won in Kumasi in a competitive match was in a league game in 2015, during the tenure of the late Herbert Addo.
On that day, the only scorer was Selassie Adjei, but the former Amidaus Professionals star has disappeared into thin air after joining the next available bus to Europe in search of greener pastures.
Polack may not have originally been happy with the upcoming fixture, but he should see this match as the perfect opportunity to avenge the defeats the club suffered under his predecessors.
Hearts are in a state of confusion following their shocking 1-0 home defeat to relegation-threatened Ashanti Gold on Wednesday.
“Kotoko shouldn’t have a game on the July 2 but all of a sudden, they have come out with that President Cup game against Hearts of Oak on that particular day,” Polack complained to Light FM.
“I think it isn’t the right thing to do because we could play against Hearts six times only this year. Two in the league, another two game in the Independence Cup, President Cup and we may also face them in the FA Cup, which is too much for every team.
“I’m against that and hopefully we won’t honour the game,” he added.
Despite all of the protests, the game has been confirmed, and Polack must return to the drawing board to find a better approach to down Hearts, who will be without head coach Frank Nuttall in their trip to the capital of Asante Kingdom.
With the country’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, a known fan of Kotoko, expected to witness the game after his arrival from Zambia, supporters will not accept anything less than victory. It’s a point of pride.
Similarly, they will see this game as the first opportunity to silence their noisy rivals before the return leg of the league game in July.
Kotoko may not want this fixture, but it could prove to be an important stepping stone en route to their winning the league title. It’s a clash that cannot be underestimated.
OPINION By: Evans Gyamera-Antwi – Goal