The Barnet Stadium in London will provide an unfamiliar terrain where two of Ghana’s biggest clubs, Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko are expected to renew their rivalry in this year’s President’s cup.
Not many may have anticipated that a day when the annual ritual of honouring the President with a football match on Independence Day would ever be staged beyond the shores of this country and for Kokoto and Hearts, this will be a test case for them to showcase a true Ghanaian football artistry to the outside world.
Inasmuch as clashes between the two teams have evoked the anticipated tension, this game will not be any different as Hearts is searching for the antidote to break the recent hegemony by their arch rivals in their last three games.
Obviously, the Phobians have played second fiddle to the Porcupine Warriors who have dominated their rivals in their most recent duels both in Accra and Kumasi with Hearts losing (1-2, 0-1 and 1-2) in their most recent clashes.
Even more worrying is Hearts’ inability to beat Coach Maxwell Konadu whenever he is in charge of Kotoko, but the determination to end the recent dominance should be the biggest motivation for Hearts as they seek to apply the brakes on Kotoko.
A neutral ground such as the Barnet Stadium will be a fine place for Hearts to settle the scores and provide their teeming fans something to cheer about having allowed Kotoko to tame them and claim the bragging rights in recent times.
More importantly, this will be an opportunity for the local players to exhibit their talents to the world and possibly the large number of football agents from all over Europe as well as some Premiership coaches who could be in the stands in search of talents.
Likewise, the Ghanaian community in Europe, who have been starved of local Ghanaian football for a long time, will also get the opportunity to see their local idols from a close range as well as appreciate the local game.
Perhaps, that remains good news to most of the players seeking avenues to join the bandwagon of playing in Europe and despite it being a friendly game, both teams are, once again, going to battle for the biggest bragging rights.
Hearts of Oak seriously need to avenge their last (1-2) home defeat to Kotoko during their league game to reduce their deficit with Kotoko.
The truth, however, is that the coaches of the two clubs, Edward Odoom and Konadu, are lovers of attacking football and have often resorted to the 4-4-2 formation in their approach to their league matches this season.
While Hearts’ Odoom have unleashed his attacking duo of Joseph Esso and Kofi Kodzi on defenders, the effective combination of Augustine Okrah and Songne Yacouba seems to have worked for Coach Konadu so far throughout this season.
It is, therefore, clear that similar approach could be adopted by both managers in order to unlock each other’s defence in this crunch and thrilling battle that is expected to sell Ghana football to the outside world and expose Ghanaian talents to the European clubs.