Kotoko, Hearts face-off in derby

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Accra, Nov. 16, GNA – All eyes, cameras and lenses will focus on the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, when Asante Kotoko plays host to bitterest rivals Hearts of Oak in unarguably the top liner of the first halve of the season.

     The clash involving the nation’s most decorated clubs wraps up the week seven matches of the 2012/2013 Premier League being the only game during the weekend.

     The euphoria engulfing matches between the two clubs often dubbed “El Clasico” has been ever-present as far as this encounter, 47th meeting with the Porcupine Warriors as hosts is concerned.

     For the second successive season, Kotoko are hot favourites this time backed by their unbeaten status in the six-week old against the wishy-washy performance of their opponents, still searching for their lost shine.

     Under new coach Mas-ud Didi Dramani, the Porcupine Warriors are gradually discovering their old self thanks to successive wins over Berekum Arsenals and Medeama away, and are better placed to tear the Phobians into apart.

     Dramani has refused to buy into the age-long adage that matches between the two sides hinges on no form, insisting that it does play a huge role in the modern game.

     Kotoko are perched on seventh place on 10-points whilst Hearts are five places below with seven points from six games apiece.

     That is another advantage on the cards for Kotoko with the other being the quality of players at hand for the homers. In the Michael trinity of Helegbe, Anaba and Akuffo coupled with the likes of Kofi Nti Boakye, Daniel Nii Adjei, Ransford Osei, Yaw Frimpong and Kwabena Adusei; the Porcupine Warriors have the men capable of weathering the Phobian storm.

     Hearts will be guided by new coach David Duncan and what a way to make his bow, against no other side than Kotoko. Duncan has carved a niche as one of the respected coaches in the country and the Hearts job serves the biggest test so far in his career.

     Though not a stranger to playing against the 21-league champions due to his stints with Great Olympics, Sekondi Hasaacas and AshantiGold, the derby has no rival and the Phobians cannot afford to accept any result other than one they deem convincing under their current status.

     After taking over the team earlier in the week, it is expected that Duncan would have identified the leaks in the Hearts team and propel them to a performance better than the previous against Real Tamale United, which they won 3-2.

     The Phobians can take solace in the fact that they have a superior record in matches hosted by their rivals and will be banking on that psychological edge to escape unscathed. Hearts have won 18 times against 17 by Kotoko in matches at the Baba Yara Stadium with 12 ending in stalemates.

     Hearts will be relying on Mahatma Otoo, Isaac Ofori, Prince Attakora Gyimah, Nuru Sulley, Godwin Osei Bonsu backed by the experience of Laryea Kingston to grab a positive result that will spur the turnaround of the club.

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