Accra, Jan.14, GNA - The Government on Friday pledged to donate a brand new bus to Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting club in appreciation for winning the maiden CAF Confederation Cup.
The President, John Agyekum Kufuor announced this when the Management and the Playing body of the Club presented the Cup they won last Sunday to him at the Castle, Osu.
Hearts Captain, Skipper Amankwah Mireku and Deputy Captain, Emmanuel Osei Kufuor supported by Mr Ato Ahwoi, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Mr Thomas Okine, Executive Chairman of the Club presented the Cup to the President.
Hearts won the maiden CAF Confederation Cup 9-8 after a marathon penalty shoot out in the final match against archrivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Kumasi Sports Stadium.
The two-leg matches played at the Accra and Kumasi Sport Stadiums ended with 1-1 drawn results.
President Kufuor with his right hand placed on the Cup said, " I take it as Ghana's glory and in appreciation, Hearts should be decorated with a brand new bus."
He said the Government was committed to the promotion and development of sports in the country and would be supportive within the country's limited resources and would consider the needed support for Ghanaian clubs that participate in Continental tournaments.
President Kufuor said the final matches were postponed for security reasons and not for the fancy 'or light heartedness' and that both the Ministries of Education and Sports and Finance and Economic Planning would consider the reimbursement of expenses that both clubs incurred, adding that, "the expenditure should be transparent."
He commended the Management and Playing bodies of the two clubs for their high sense of discipline in the two-leg matches and the display of sportsmanship both on and off the field.
President Kufuor also commended supporters of both clubs for comporting themselves as well as the security agencies playing their onerous assignments dutifully.
He advised Managements of both clubs to be professional in their operations akin to what pertained in other parts of the world. President Kufuor called on the playing body to ensure that the Cup remained permanently in Ghana while they endeavour to win more Cups for the nation.
He advised the Club and its supporters not to have any ill-feelings against the Government because he the President was an ardent supporter of Kumasi Asante Kotoko while the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama was a Founding member of Real Tamale United (RTU).
"The honour and glory achieved by Hearts is for Ghana and under our leadership", he added.
Mr Ato Ahwoi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hearts of Oak said this was the second time that Hearts had presented trophies to President Kufuor.
He said the first was the Super Cup that the Club presented in March 2001 and the maiden CAF Confederation Cup, a feat no Club in Ghana had achieved.
Mr Ahwoi gave the assurance that by dint of hard work the Super Cup would be presented to the President in March, this year.
He said participation in Continental tournaments had been very expensive and appealed to the Government for assistance to clubs that qualify to enable them bring more honour and glory to the country. Mr Ahwoi said in the 1970's the Clubs' opted for self-sponsorship but they were now at their wits end since gate fees accrued from matches played locally were only sufficient for their travelling expenses and cannot meet their camping and other logistics needs while their debt profiles continues to increase.
He referred to the Second Republic under Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia when Kumasi Asante Kotoko was presented with a bus after they won the African Clubs Championship in 1971 and said the President assured Hearts of assistance when the Super Cup was presented to him in March 2001 but that the promise had still not been fulfilled.
Mr Ahwoi appealed to the Government to re-imburse both Hearts and Kotoko for the expenses incurred following the postponement of the final CAF Confederation matches in November and December last year.
He gave the assurance that Hearts would win more laurels and provide more first class players for the nation to compete in the World Cup in 2006.