COMMENT By Prince Narkortu Teye Follow on Twitter
On Sunday, the two sides will renew their rivalry at the Baba Yara Stadium as Ghana honours sitting president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The truth is, there could not have been a better call.
Two months ago, the Phobians proved just too hot for the Porcupine Warriors in Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary celebration match in Accra.
Kwame Kizito, Thomas Abbey – who’s only mentioned because Kotoko goalkeeper Felix Annan was so generous on the day – and Patrick Razak found the back of the net in the 3-1 win, with Jackson Owusu fetching the consolation.
But could Sunday’s cup result have any bearing on Hearts’ Ghana Premier League title ambitions?
Until Wednesday’s shock home defeat to Ashanti Gold, Hearts had enjoyed a purple patch of form.
Frank Nuttall’s side had lost only one of 10 preceding games, hitting six unanswered goals in the last two. That was as ruthless as they could be, somewhat declaring their readiness for the title fight.
However, the bottom line is that the Miners showed that the Phobians are far from invincible.
That looks like good news to Kotoko, but only as far as they fail to realize that the Phobians hit four goals on their return after their last reversal. That was some response!
It’s fair to say that some complacency, not that there should be any surprise, had begun to set in. Perhaps the defeat to Ashgold is just as good as bad. Maybe the Phobians needed some form of awakening.
First, it looks despondently depressing that Hearts’ next fixture after Wednesday’s defeat is against none other but Kotoko. However, on second thoughts, on the brighter side, a win on Sunday could have positive knock-on effects.
A win on Sunday would not only mean that Hearts would have promptly bounced back after a major setback, but they would also have done so in style, against none other than Kotoko. Their confidence, in that case, could lift an entire roof off a building!
The festive sense of joy would not only have been because they have silenced their nemesis, but also because a good result could surely reenergise their title challenge.
Kotoko are currently one of the best sides in the league. Following their faltering start to the championship, the Porcupine Warriors have now turned a corner. Having gone six games unbeaten, their form is surely a major concern for their opponents on Sunday.
In that regard, it would take a lot to crash the current Kotoko side, even if their clashes with Hearts have not really followed logic over the years.
A win would do the confidence of the Phobians a world of good, as they sit 10 points below leaders Wafa with 10 matches to go.
It was one thing bouncing back after the 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Wafa, and will be another promptly returning to winning ways following the recent Ashgold fall.
However, in Kotoko, Hearts have been served the perfect motivation to go searching for victory on their return to action.
It’s a friendly fixture, perhaps, but there’s certainly more than bragging rights up for the taking in this game. Maybe, the defeat to Ashgold isn’t a setback after all. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Kotoko are next on the agenda.
Is there anything like a Hearts mumbo jumbo?
Maybe this is all part of their plans. Maybe this is one big plot to shake up a slumbering giant right in time to fight their way to a first league glory since 2009.
It is all down to Hearts of Oak to follow the script to conclusion, then, to pick up that win in Kumasi and gallantly ride to the title on the crest of the wave.
Don’t be surprised if the Phobians’ title challenge is looking a lot rosier after Sunday’s exhibition match.