Preview: Hearts of Oak vrs Asante Kotoko

One of the most intense rivalries in world football returns for its latest instalment and should be every bit as passionate and controversial as usual to make the vengeance worth witnessing.

It’s Ghana’s version of the ‘El Classico’.Accra Hearts of Oak will face Kumasi  Asante Kotoko at the Ohene Djan Stadium this Sunday. The two clubs met the last time in the first round of the Glo Premier League at the Baba Yara Stadium with the Accra-based side emerging victorious courtesy a Douglas Nkrumah’s second half penalty in front of a packed crowd and victory marked the beginning of successive defeat for Hearts.

Kotoko have not won a Premier League match at the Accra Sports Stadium in a while and their Serbian trainer Bodgan Korak has vowed to get his players in the right mental state ahead of the trip to the capital.”They are good but we will be there to beat them. I have seen them and everything is okay for me. I am sure Kotoko will win because we know what to do,” Korak told the Kotoko Express Newspaper.

”Some players are self-motivated and can do that job themselves; others need it, some depend on it. You remind the players of their responsibilities, that’s all part of the process.”Under the tutelage of an ostensibly thriving Dr K.K Sarpong management, the Porcupine Warriors will aim to avoid a second heartbreak in the season, while his opposite number Fred Crentsil will be eager to enjoy a roller-coaster ride over his counterpart in the two derbies this season.Indeed Ghanaian football has had its own share of the age-long rivalries.

The Battle of the West: Hasaacas and Eleven Wise have raged for several years.Recently we have seen the War of Adansi, involving New Edubiase and AshantiGold.But none of these battles can be compared with the strife for supremacy between these two giants and the desire to write their names in record books, the efficacy to buy bragging rights at whatever price always serves as the impetus to carry victory on the day.

Heart of Oak has enjoyed tremendous success over their rivals in the last decade.They have won 10 out of   20 league games played between the two clubs since 2000, while Kotoko has won a paltry 3.In these 20 games, Hearts have scored 27 goals compared to Kotoko’s 16.At the Accra Sports Stadium where Sunday’s match will be played, Kotoko has recorded very terrible results.They have only won only once in 10 games, scoring just 5 goals while Hearts have always had the upper hand, winning 6 of the 10 home games and scoring 16 goalsIt will also be a battle of two expatriate coaches: Serbian duo Nebojsa Vucicevic on one hand for Hearts and Bodgan Korak on the other side for Kotoko.

Undoubtedly the midfield battle of Daniel Nii Adjei and Esme Mends will attract much attention while creative force Stephen Oduro and Obed Ansah will treat fans to some delectable piece of action and Hearts have claimed in the past few days, Kotoko will be no match for them.For striker Nathaniel Asamoah, it will be a unique opportunity to justify his inclusion into the 24-man Black Stars squad released by Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic for the Black Stars double decker against Congo in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on 27 March and the high-profile friendly against England two days later.Stevanovic who will watch the game from the stands will also have his eyes firmly gripped on Hearts of Oak stopper Sammy Adjei who will be in post for the 2000 African Champions.A win for Heart will see them move on points with Kotoko for a slot in the prestigious Top Four competition while Kotoko’s victory could push their opponent back into the relegation dog-fight.

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