Going into May 2’s big derby, which club has the better chances?
Picking the likelier winner when Hearts of Oak clash with Asante Kotoko is never a straightforward task, but with Ghana’s two biggest clubs at each other’s throats for the first time in 2016 later today, KickerGH’s writers attempt predicting which, between resurgent Hearts and comatose Kotoko, would claim this one.
JIMMY AIDOO — ‘Cool chop for Hearts!‘
Hearts walk into the season’s first ‘Super Clash’ with a renewed sense of hope; a conviction that will serve as enough fodder to satiate the hunger perpetuated by a desire to replicate the successes of its vintage ’64 Battalion’ team of the early 2000’s.
Since the turn of the decade, games between Hearts and sworn rivals Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium have ever too often swung to the side of the pendulum the home side hasn’t been too comfortable with. Such unpleasant experiences have intersected with a period of furious managerial chops and changes, in the process denying the club the consistency needed to put up any meaningful challenge for the league title. Now, though, there appears genuine cause to believe in a complete makeover.
“The coach of Hearts is the reason why Hearts would beat Kotoko on Monday,” club legend Dan Quaye told Happy FM in the build-up to the big game. “The Asians are workaholics. . . and that is what the coach has introduced to Hearts of Oak.”
This surely resonates with Hearts’ faithful who increasingly bank their hopes on Japanese-American gaffer Kenichi Yatsuhashi, a man for whom there were pleas for patience after overseeing a poor pre-season.
With Hearts now cruising again thus far in 2016, the sudden change in fortunes and a perceived disquiet in the camp of the enemy will serve as a major boost for Hearts and they will feel this is the right time to stem the tide and turn things around for good.
SAMMIE FRIMPONG — ‘Still, Fabu!‘
Kotoko would be foolish to think themselves favourites going into this fixture; seven points beneath high-flying Hearts and playing with far less swagger, the Reds are anything but.
But, hey, this is Kotoko versus Hearts — perhaps the one game in the world which rarely ever nods in the direction of form guides. Kotoko haven’t always had to play well to hold their own against their archrivals, and the opposite is just as true.
Granted, the last few years, during which Kotoko have had their dominance particularly pronounced, have been blissful for the Porcupine Warriors. While Kotoko have made their trophy cabinet look even better, Hearts have stuttered and had hitherto been in very much the messed-up state Kotoko find themselves in now.
Still, Hearts are just the opponents designed to get Kotoko’s battling juices flowing thick and fast. And arguably nowhere do they enjoy the duel as much as in Accra, the Phobians’ own fortress. Kotoko, in five meetings, haven’t lost to Hearts in the capital and it’s a record and an advantage they aren’t ready to relinquish anytime soon.
Kotoko’s renaissance after David Duncan’s exit is still very much alive, in spite of the home loss to New Edubiase which followed three wins on the bounce; beating Hearts — not just holding out for a draw — could be the definite turning point in that reversal to better days.
And so while Hearts are certainly in record-smashing form (they’ve already picked rare wins at Tarkwa and Obuasi), Kotoko are edging this one.