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16.04.2007 League Report

Hearts Close To Title

Accra Hearts of Oak followers last Saturday turned the Carl Reindorf Park at Dansoman into a festive ground in the belief that they had stripped Kumasi Asante Kotoko of the Onetouch Premiership title after defeating a stubborn Heart of Lions side 2-0.

News of the 2-1 defeat of defending champions and arch-rivals, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, sent the Phobians into an unusual partying mood in the belief that their six-point lead and healthier goal difference guarantees the club enough cushion against any mathematical chance of Kotoko retaining the title after the final two league games.

Bulgarian coach Mitko Kosatadinov Dobrez and Captain Hassan Mohammed were carried shoulder-high by ecstatic fans who stormed the pitch to celebrate the famous victory while Chief Executive, Tommy Okine, and other officials hugged each other for a job well done.

Hearts grabbed two decisive goals in either half through Stanley Afedzie and Ekow Ghansah to subdue the dangerous Lions, but it was the manner in which Ghansah executed what could become the championship-winning goal that made last Saturday's victory even sweeter.

It was a goal of supreme quality as the striker sprinted from the centreline with unstoppable power, shrugging off a challenge from his shirt-tugging marker, Ofosu Appiah, to fire home a powerful carpet shot into the far end of the post beyond the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Stephen Ahole in the 85th minute.

Hearts were made to sweat for victory, and that is the stuff champions are made of. In the 10th minute, Afedzie put the Phobians in the lead via a spot kick but that goal rather incensed the Lions who took control of the match and went on the prowl in search of a prey to devour.

Smallish Obed Ansah ran the show from midfield with some deft touches, and spraying long passes that often placed strikers Sadat Bukari, Abraham Annan and Eric Bekoe in scoring positions. Somehow the jittery central defenders of Hearts defence managed to weather the storm with some difficulty.

Lions looked even more dangerous and tactically disciplined in the second half after Hearts almost lost the midfield, but the combative presence of Hassan and the alertness of goalkeeper Abubakar Sulemana kept the Lions forward from scoring.

Clear-cut scoring chances were few and far between for the Phobians whose strikers Eric Gawu and Alfred Nii Larbi, who was later replaced by Reuben Senyo, were often busy about nothing.

Afedzie missed another glorious chance in the 54th minute when his curly free kick nearly zoomed into the net after the Lions defenders failed to clear the ball.

Lions put the Hearts goalmouth under siege in the latter minutes but lacked the cutting edge to secure the equaliser until Ghansah drilled the final nail in the coffin five minutes to time.