Hearts Kotoko 'Super Clash' End Goalless
5/12/2012 9:16:32 AM -
Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko sold out an inconclusive thriller in Accra yesterday that somehow revived their status as ‘overlords’ of Ghana football, but either side may eventually rue the goalless draw as they seek to end their place on the fringes of the championship in a third straight season.
On a day that tension was stretched to the limits in response to the chants from the estimated 37,000 attendance, the hype had played its parts in the cautious start by both sides.
But neither Referee Mohammed Awal’s benevolence with the yellow card nor the atmostphere could tamper with an exciting game that might have done justice to either side’s efforts.
At least, on separate occasions, both Hearts and Kotoko had gone as close as the woodwork, but with Hearts’ Douglas Nkrumah and Kotoko’s Yahya Mohammed denied from freekicks, the deadlock never seemed threatened.
What seemed threatened, however, were lives and the peace at the stadium as fans at different times hurled materials onto the pitch for various reasons, evoking bitter memories of a similarly innocuous action by fans at a similar affair between the two sides that eventual cost more that 20 people their lives 10 years ago.
The pre-match hype had been built around the recent brilliance of the two sides, with Hearts receiving plaudits for their passing philosophy introduced by Serbian trainer, Nebojsa Vucecivic, while Kotoko’s credentials were hinged on the form of both individual players and teamwork, with striker Ahmed Toure featuring prominently in either case.
But Toure’s involvement in the affair, at best, was pedestrian, by his own standards, with Hearts’ defender Philip Boampong, a surprise starter in the stead of the more regular Osei Bonsu, man-marking the Ivorian even to the point of escorting him to the touchline as Coach Maxwell Konadu substituted the ineffectual forward.
The two sides had entered the field to defeaning cheers from the crowd, and when both sets of players set themselves in the centre circle for the ritual of pre-match prayers, it added to the tension in the air, while Hearts skipper, Samuel Nzemabah, participating in the coin toss before taking his place on the bench.
While Hearts dominated possession in the opening period, the biggest threat came from Kotoko when Yahya Mohammed forced a double save from Sammy Adjei with a pile driver, while Nathaniel Asamoah fired over with only Adjei in sight when Toure set him up with a defence-splitting pass.
Hearts’ prominence in midfield was threatened 10 minutes before half time when Uriah Asante was stretchered off for good, but the duo of Thomas Abbey and Isaac Ofori delivered an impressive performance that matched the toughness of Yahya in Kotoko’s midfield.
Nkrumah’s first positive involvement was his 57th minute freekick that came off the angle of the bar and the post, with Soulama in wonderland, but Yahya replicated the brilliance with a powerful drive that was denied the ultimate by the under side of the bar on 72 minutes.
The closing minutes were reserved for fans’ excitement as the end-to-end action typified the urge for a win that never was.