09.03.2008 Sports News

Two outstanding matches to be cleared today

By GBC News
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There would be two outstanding matches to be cleared on Sunday as Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko, Sekondi Hasaacas and AshantiGold play. But the biggest match on the soccer calendar, the game between Hearts and Kotoko, has dominated the media's match preview.

All sides would play their outstanding match-day-12 games tomorrow.

Only a few football games across the world carries the same passionate appeal that a duel between Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko offers.

This Sunday at 15:00GMT, Ghana and the global audience on the Afri-Sat broadcast channel would be glued to TV sets to watch the first of the twice-yearly clash between the side from the capital, Accra and that from the second busiest economic city, Kumasi.

The match venue, the Ohene Djan Stadium can hold up to 40,000 fans. Certainly, much fewer than the supporters of both clubs would have wanted as only the lucky ones can make an entry and support their teams. Whether the match can attract a full house is yet to be seen.

A game between the Phobians and the Porcupine Warriors is not a derby but it carries all the history. Aside the claim for the all the bragging rights depending on who wins, it sets the stage to continuously define who really is Ghana's most successful club, making matches like this go beyond just a normal league game.

Some 19 points separates both sides ahead of Sunday's clash but the fixture is far more than the three points for the taking.

This season's first clash represents a tale of two contrasting fortunes. Asante Kotoko lead the league with 31 points while Hearts of Oak have managed just 12 points and find themselves in the relegation zone, a step above the bottom-placed side.

Both sides would not be parading a collection of the finest stars in the country, like they used to do seasons back.

Bashiru Hayford has put together a team at Asante Kotoko that have so far exhibited class in thirteen games. But, the same cannot be said for Eyal Lachman whose first game in the domestic competition on Thursday ended in defeat.

The Israeli is the third manager for the Phobians this season after Karim Zito and Sampson Lamptey. His predecessors managed between them three league wins with a side that is trying to blood inexperience with experience.

As time approaches to kickoff, the build-up has been taken over by fans of the two clubs, newspapers, radio and TV cameras. The debate has been on throughout the week.

The official newspapers of both sides have upped the tension with each clamouring for wins just as talk on radio by various club officials continue into Sunday.

Matches involving this two sides most often tend not to be influenced by form guide. The mental toughness and the ability to pick chances on the day most often overrides quality and form.

Kotoko's success depicts a side who will win the match. However, it's no indication they would achieve victory on Sunday but clearly, their form gives the Phobians something to worry about.

The Phobians, despite an uninspiring home performance on Thursday that saw them lose to Zaytuna FC, they remain confident that they would overcome the setback against their fiercest rivals.

In the other game, Sekondi Hasaacas would host AshantiGold at the Essipong Stadium.

Hasaacas, who have moved out of the relegation zone after an important home win in midweek plus the benefit of a Disciplinary Committee decision that awarded them three extra points, would have enough confidence playing the Miners.

For the Miners, a win at Essipong would hand them a top place as the end of the first round of the league nears.

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