Can Hearts Stop Bekoe? As Kotoko Descend On Accra Stadium
After a convincing performance that deflated Heart of Lions in Kumasi last Wednesday, league leaders, Asante Kotoko, have left defending champions Hearts of Oak with the jigsaw of finding an antidote to their opponents’ scoring form. And when the two giants clash in Accra on Sunday in one of two outstanding league games, Hearts are faced with crucial questions that threaten humiliation and a massive defeat as leading scorer, Eric Bekoe, leads Kotoko's marauding attack into the most anticipated clash in the first round. Ashantigold play Hasaacas at Sekondi in the other match. Bekoe’s almost-perfect scoring record in the season, and the general scoring rate of the club, have left few in doubt of Kotoko’s ability to avenge the 4-0 thrashing handed them by the famous Hearts side that conquered all that they surveyed in 2000. Eight years on, the team that have won eight league titles in 10 years remain a distant shadow of their once-fearful selves, wallowing in 14th place in the 16-club competition and managing just three wins in 11 previous league matches before yesterday’s game against Zaytuna United. Their pathetic sight and state have rather both fortunately and unfortunately coincided with Kotoko’s all-conquering form at a time the runaway league leaders seek to consolidate their hold on the championship. But it is the profile of this clash that could provide the platform for suppressed talents to blossom, with Kofi Abanga handed a personal mission to justify his choice for Hearts over Kotoko who have blossomed rather easily without him. Abanga’s energy, midfield distributions and general intelligence have been blighted by Hearts’ abysmal performance since his controversial move from Aduana Stars in the Division One League during the close season until he capped an outstanding afternoon with a personal magnificent strike against Gabon’s FC 105 in their 3-1 CAF Champions League win in Accra that still failed to save them from early elimination. While he revived their spirits, it gingered the quality inherent in Francis Bossman, Hassan Mohammed, Eric Gawu and Michael Asante whose willing souls virtually yielded to their glaring show of being stamina-suspect. Expatriate coach Eval Lachman’s inspring presence on the Hearts bench notwithstanding, the champions can only bank high hopes on Abanga and new central defence revelation, Ebenezer Tetteh, to contain what looms too large against them. The youngster’s composure and workrate was exceptional in a big game situation last Sunday, and now appears the main hope to solve the Bekoe puzzle. But the threat Kotoko pose on Sunday lies in the support squad of Nana Arhin Duah, Kwadwo Poku, Nii Adjei, Kwabena Yaro and Stephen Oduro who back Bekoe perfectly. Ashantigold trek to Sekondi virtually without the aura of supriority that would have heralded their clash with Hasaacas. Duncan’s side only managed a goalless draw with mid-table King Faisal last Wednesday, just about the same time Hasaacas opened their new home at the Sekondi Stadium with a 5-1 thumping of All Blacks. The coincidence of the two results has set up an interesting tie that will draw the best from Ashantigold’s David Telfer, Opoku Agyemang and Alex Asamoah, as well as Hasaacas’ goalkeeper Joseph Addo, Charles Nartey and Daniel Ocran.
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