Despite the fact that both teams have had rough starts to the campaign, the fixture has still garnered unrivalled anticipation.
The Phobians, who celebrated their 101st birthday last week, have only managed two wins out of six games, whilst the Porcupine Warriors also have done same, albeit drawing their other games with the Accra-based giants losing most of theirs.
o bad has Hearts’ form been that their manager CK Akunnor has had to pay the ultimate price – a bold statement reflecting how badly the board wants the club to recover after last season’s debacle, which saw them not only losing the title to their bitterest rivals, but also doing so with a point gap so huge it summed up the nature their deep lying problems.
Kotoko coach Mas-Ud Dramani, who recently won bronze with Ghana’s female Under-17 team, amidst widespread public praise of his tactical ingenuity, comes into the game on the back of two consecutive wins. Hearts though, arrived in Kumasi with a new manager, David Duncan, who has hardly had time to meet his players. Both sides are in some form of transition, and are also not in the best of shape form-wise.
THE RETURNEE | Laryea Kingston could feature in this crucial encounter
The Fabulous club relatively has the upper hand, given that they have not lost a game yet, and they have looked really coherent and threatening despite almost always dropping points. The Rainbow club would have to prove the cliché ideology that this encounter does not follow form guide if they stand a chance of walking away from Kumasi with something significant. They will look to harness the positives from their first win after three consecutive losses in the fresh league.
Both Hearts and Kotoko have won 32 of the 97 meetings, with the remaining encounters ending in draws.
"Hearts though, arrived in Kumasi with a new manager, David Duncan, who has hardly had time to meet his players."
This means the team that takes this tie will have one win more, and the much cherished bragging rights. Kotoko, despite winning 18 out of 44 times in a home game played in Kumasi against Hearts, have only beaten the Phobians once in seven years at the Baba Yara Stadium, a statistic that somehow favours the Phobians, who have won 15 out of the 44.
Both sides come into the game with their own versions of in-form players, with Hearts parading the likes of defender Nuru Sulley and hitman Mahatma Otoo, whilst Kotoko present Kofi Nti Boakye and Michael Helegbe. Also, the return of the midfield veteran Laryea Kingston is a talking point worth noticing.
Despite the background events being relatively unusual, the game will be of importance in its own special way. The winning team will benefit from the massive confidence that it will bring; confidence that could translate into a devastating run of form – the kind of form that could possibly fuel a title charge. It will be a pivotal game, one that could remotely shape their league destinies this season.
It all goes down on Sunday, November 18, 2012 - the 97th installment of one of the world’s fiercest rivalries.