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League Report of Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Hearts, Kotoko set for showdown

An audacious outing at Bekwai last Sunday, crowned by a 2-0 victory over tough customers New Edubiase United, has set the stage for a real test on Sunday as Hearts of Oak welcome champions, Asante Kotoko, to Accra for Sunday’s top Premier League clash.

But beyond the terms of the league’s major rivalry, Coach David Duncan will be seeking his first victory over Kotoko since joining the Phobians, his new-look side seemingly transformed from the mediocre performers they were for most part of last season to serious contenders of the present season — perhaps as indicated by last Sunday’s show.

“It is early days yet,” admitted Duncan, in an interview with Graphic Sports yesterday, as the Hearts tactician builds his ‘own’ team from virtual scratch, having let off about 10 members of last season’s squad, including prized striker, Mahatma Otoo, who now plays in Norway.

“But the confidence in camp is unbelievable; it’s the best you can expect from a team,” he said.

The camp atmosphere appears to have been bolstered by the capture of four top stars — Selasie Adjei, Sampson Cudjoe, Emmanuel Hayford and Kweku Andoh — who all featured against New Edubiase.

He understands that Kotoko remain a different proposition on any day, admitting that “they have a strong squad and some good players”.

However, former Kotoko chief, Jarvis Peprah, is backing Kotoko coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani to lead the Porcupine warriors to silence Coach Duncan who he says “has been talking too much ahead of the game and must not be allowed to have his way”, writes Kwame Asare Boadu.

Dramani, who is in his second season with the league champions, is yet to lead his side to victory over Hearts and a win for the Oseikrom lads would enhance the coach’s image.

Speaking to the Graphic Sports in Kumasi yesterday, Mr Peprah said, Kotoko looked promising and he had the greatest conviction that they would be too strong for Hearts.

Dramani himself has remained quiet and kept his game plans close to his chest, as expectations of Kotoko supporters remain high with score lines of 2-0 and 3-0 making the rounds in the Garden City.

Kotoko started their title defence on a good note after fighting from behind to thump Aduana Stars 2-1 in Sunyani. It was a display of team spirit and mental toughness which Mr Peprah reckoned pointed to vistory.

“Asante Kotoko have the strongest midfield in the country today. The defence is also okay, but my greatest worry is in attack.

“If we are able to establish the kind of free-flowing attacking play, there is no way Hearts would not be left standing on their feet.”