(A GNA Preview by Veronica Commey)
The much awaited 2004 soccer season's fever, will finally grip the nation when all the16 premier clubs parade to "walk the talk" at the weekend to begin the novelty league. The embattled league, which will significantly be on a different format, will see the teams from both the Northern and the Southern Zones doing their own thing in search of honours.
The doubts, glooms and suggestions that came with this year's organization will finally give way to action where the clubs will hope to work towards their targets on either retaining the trophy, reclaiming lost glory, improving upon their performances or fighting to place a respectable position at the end of the 14-week season.
The usual rivalry that has characterized games between the two city rivals, Accra Hearts of Oak and Liberty Professionals will obviously hoist its head again when the duo from the Southern Zone lock horns at the nation's Wembley, Accra stadium on Sunday.
Significantly, both teams settled for a one all drawn game when they met in the opener of last season and the Phobians had to overstretch their limit to pull a last minute equalizer. The two campaigners in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) championship will be using the game to test their preparedness towards their respective second leg games in Tunisia next weekend and are expected to play all their regular cards who are to feature in Tunisia. Whilst Hearts has gone under massive transformation in terms of technical direction, Liberty's playing body has seen changes capable of setting the stage for an uncompromising encounter.
The Sunday clash which will be their third meeting in the year, has seen Hearts confirming their superiority over the Dansoman-based lads by winning two and losing one respectively.
Hearts emerged victors at both home and away matches during the Coca Cola Top Four tournament but bowed 2-1 when they engaged each other in a billed-up friendly game played at the Accra Sports Stadium a few weeks ago.
Whilst Hearts Ernst Middendorop is expected to line-up the likes of Sammy Adjei, Amankwaah Mireku, Kwabena Boafo, Dan Quaye at the rear with support coming from Adjah Tetteh, Francis Bossman and "general" Osei Kuffour from the middle, the "wonder boy", Louis Agyeman who is yet to be tested on the local front is tipped give to give a hard time to Liberty's Mustapha Essuman, Wahid Mohammed, Issifu Ansah and their colleagues on a good day.
The Liberty trio of David Boateng, Felix Baffoe and Michael Helegbe will definitely pose the needed threat to Quaye and his men at the back.
At the onetime "Fast Track" Stadium, Asante Kotoko will open their defence against visiting BA United who were saved from relegation vie a play-off last season.
The latter has never found the Kumasi Sports Stadium favourable as they have recorded nothing but chains of poor results in the past and Sunday's encounter seem to favour the hungry "Porcupine Warriors" who lost 2-0 to USM Algiers in their Champions league tie last weekend. United will need more than determination and resilience to prevent Kotoko's possible 18 for their return encounter against the Algerians in Kumasi next weekend from rehearsing their plans for their North African counterparts against them.
When Alhaji Grusah's King Faisal trek to the Bolgatanga as guest of RTU, where the former will be aiming at finding their scoring form that eluded them in their Confederation Cup game against Santos of South Africa last week.
However, RTU known for their impressive home record in the past would not be a mere pushover.
At the Sunyani Coronation Park, AshantiGold will play as guest of Tano Bafoakwaa whilst Okwawu United and Berekum Arsenals sort it out with the latter at home.
Debutants Real Sportive and Feyenoord who will be using the El Wak and Cape Coast Sports Stadium respectively will welcome Accra Great Olympics and Kpando Heart of Lions with Sekondi Hasaacas playing host to Koforidua Power FC.