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Soccer News of Friday, 5 March 2004

Source: William Ezah, GNA Special Correspondent

Hearts set to break Malian Jinx

Bamako -- The defeat suffered by Accra Hearts Oak in 2002 at the hands of Stade Malien is still fresh in the minds of most players of the club, as it became the subject of discussion among them, as they set foot on the Malian soil on Friday Morning.

With that painful elimination in the minds of almost every member of the "phobian hit squad," they seem to be in no mood to go through another humiliation and are determined to break that jinx irrespective of the level of opposition the Malians would offer.

The phobians are also much aware about the importance of the match as any unfavourable results will make this year's campaign another fiasco.

Apart from this, the Ghanaian club is not prepared to go through a gloomy Independence Anniversary.

All these and other factors are what have shot the morale of the Ghanaian team to the crescendo and readied them to go for the kill.

However the presence of Ernst Middendorp on the technical bench of Hearts will surely be one of the determining factors on Sunday despite the fact that the German has been in control for less than two weeks. The Hearts' optimism hinges on Middendorp's track record in Ghana soccer two years ago when he transformed Kotoko into a championship team.

The German believes in discipline and he has instilled a chunk of it into the team and that could be the determining factor on Sunday. Though he had complained about the fitness level of his players, the coach seems to have developed a better alternative in discipline for his boys in order to win the match even at the enemies' back yard.

Following this, the expectation of Ghanaians is that the coach would rely on the defensive network of Sammy Adjei, Dan Quaye, Amankwah Mireku, Dan Coleman and Kwabena Boafo to thwart any dangerous move from the Malians..

The rock solid defence will be complemented by the high work rate of Adjah Tetteh who will be playing right in-front of the rear guard. Veteran striker cum schemer Emmanuel Osei Kuffour and youthful Frank Kornu would support the attack from the middle as they are very mobile players who can hold and guard the ball to near perfection.