In this special for Joy Sports, well-known Hearts of Oak writer Sadat Anwar Larry threads the recent history of Super Clash fixtures, noting that despite the enthusiasm from Hearts ahead of their weekend meeting with Kotoko, there is cause for pause, and a reason to study the last decade of matches.
Ghana’s two biggest clubs meet yet again this Sunday.
The longest-running rivalry in topflight football in West Africa returns this weekend with Accra set to come to a standstill. And it’s going to be the 110th league clash between the behemoths.
Yet, Hearts and Kotoko have not found their feet or momentum in this nascent league season. After five rounds of matches, the two giants are not even in the top four; you’d have to look a little lower down the table to find them perched at seventh (Kotoko) and ninth (Hearts) respectively.
Kotoko started the season with two straight wins, including a remarkable 1-3 turnaround victory over Legon Cities FC at the Accra Sports Stadium on matchday 2. However, the Porcupines were brought down to earth at home by league leaders Berekum Chelsea who left the Baba Yara Stadium with all three points. And they were not spared on the road either, as Medeama snatched another lone goal victory in Tarkwa in the following game.
A morale-boosting 2-0 over Dwarfs seems to have put coach Maxwell Konadu back on track but strangely, it’s Hearts (and her fans) who seem to be on the rise and in good jolly going into this weekend’s game. The Phobians, after losing their first two games, have picked up seven points from their last three encounters, with arguably their best performance coming in the 1-2 away victory over Liberty Professionals last Sunday.
Coach Edward Odoom’s side have been on the road in their last two encounters, but they proved their 0-0 result against WAFA (in Sogakope, their least favorite ground in the country where they have shipped in 11 goals in their previous three trips – including that 5-0 thrashing in 2017) was no fluke. Hearts came from behind to beat Liberty with barely six minutes remaining in Dansoman.
But though the Phobians appear to be flying going into the game against Kotoko this Sunday, history is not on Hearts’ side. Kotoko, not Hearts, have the edge.
The Porcupines had to wait 16 years before getting a league victory against Hearts in Accra. But after breaking their duck in 2009, they have gone on to win 50 percent of their last 10 games against the Phobians in the capital.
And it’s not just the victories that have stood out. Kotoko’s wins have been sweeter because of the troubles they have had to deal with preceding their Super Clash encounters in the capital.
In August 2015, this image came from the Kotoko camp.
Former GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi is shown getting to the Tacoma Hotel, located in Taifa in Accra.
Kotoko had suffered an armed robbery attack on the morning of the big game, and the ex-FA boss was there to offer his goodwill and check on their state. But admirably, the Reds overcame this psychological blow and unleashed an outstanding performance at the home of the Phobians. Hearts missed a penalty through Robin Gnagne but Dauda Mohammed (whose room was hit in the attack) drove Kotoko into the lead. And though Inusah Musah leveled, Dauda headed the visitors back in the lead and handed ex-Hearts coach David Duncan, who was managing Kotoko, a moral victory.
At this moment, Kotoko are facing a different challenge – and one that you could call self-inflicted. The GFA Disciplinary Committee has ruled that the Reds shall play three home matches behind closed doors at the Baba Yara Stadium and pay a fine of GH¢20,000.00 in relation to unsporting behaviour by supporters during their Matchday 3 encounter against Berekum Chelsea. Crucially, star man Yacouba Songne is set to leave the club at the end of his contract, following confirmations from Dr. Kwame Kyei that the Kotoko cannot afford his wage demands.
This pales in comparison to what happened to the club in 2015, when they had to overcome the robbery attack. The circumstances are totally different now, but the foe remains the same for Kotoko.
Ominously for the Phobians, they have not won against Kotoko at home in the last 10 encounters anytime they have picked up a win preceding the SuperClash. In the 2010/11 season, Hearts beat Liberty 1-2 (with goals from Douglas Nkrumah and Esme Mends with goalkeeper Daniel Adjei grabbing a late consolation from the spot) but they lost 0-2 to Kotoko in the next league game.
Again, after winning 0-2 away from home over Edubiase on the opening day of the 2013/14 season, Hearts were beaten 0-1 at home by Kotoko in their next game at the Accra Sports Stadium. In the 2016 season, despite winning 1-2 away at AshGold, Kenichi Yatsuhashi’s Hearts were pipped 0-1 at home by Kotoko thanks to an own goal by the late Soulama Abdoulaye.
However, after beating Liberty 1-3 in Dansoman in the 2012/13 season, Hearts shared the honors with Kotoko in a 1-1 draw game in Accra – and this was the only time Hearts bucked this trend in the last decade.
The Porcupines won three straight league games against Hearts at the Accra Sports Stadium from 2014-2016, and remained unbeaten in six years at the home of the Phobians, before controversially losing their run in 2017.
Positively for Hearts, they have won the last two league meetings against Kotoko by a lone goal in Accra (2017) and Kumasi (2018) with their stand-in coach Odoom masterminding the recent victory.
But, really, the Porcupines have the edge. They have history on their side. And their predilection for victories in Accra over Hearts means you should not be surprised if they carry all three points on Sunday. You are warned, Phobians.
LAST 10 HEARTS-KOTOKO MEETINGS IN ACCRA (P10 W2 D3 L5 F4 A8 GF -4)
Hearts 0-0 Kotoko
Hearts 0-1 Kotoko (Francis Coffie)
Hearts 1-0 Kotoko
Hearts 0-2 Kotoko
(A. Toure, Daniel Adjei)
Hearts 0-0 Kotoko
Hearts 1-1 Kotoko
(Winful Cobbinah, Michael Helegbe)
Hearts 0-1 Kotoko
Hearts 1-2 Kotoko
(Inusah Musah, Dauda Mohammed (2))
Hearts 0-1 Kotoko
(Soulama Abdoulaye (o.g))
Hearts 1-0 Kotoko
Hearts ?-? Kotoko
Sadat Anwar Larry is a Hearts fan and former writer for Hearts news.
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