Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak face off in a dicey encounter in the Ghana Premier League matchday 24 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Sunday afternoon.
The Phobians contingent arrived in Kumasi on Saturday and are upbeat about their chances ahead of their 109th league meeting with their bitterest rivals.
Sunday’s clash is a renewal of one of the fiercest rivalries in global football comparable to the old firm derby in Scotland featuring Glasgow Rangers and Celtic or El Clasico involving Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Prosper Narteh Ogum’s men, the host, lead the pack with 49 points from 23 games while the Rainbow Club languish in 6th position, 13 points shy of Kotoko.
However, the current form favours the visitors who have amassed more points (10) than any other team in the league apart from second-placed Bechem United (11 points).
Prosper Narteh is sweating over the fitness midfielder Justice Blay. The former Medeama player hasn’t been able to take part in the team’s last 3 training sessions and is unlikely to feature in the game. The 30-year-old was assigned to a make-shift center-back position against King Faisal in the matchday 23 encounter in Kumasi.
Meanwhile, there are huge doubts over the availability of captain Abdul Ismail Ganiyu whose situation is unclear. He could miss the game either to suspension arising from the red card in the home draw against Karela United or lack of fitness. Midfielder Richmond Lamptey has also been confirmed out of the fixture with injury.
Young attacker Isaac Oppong and defender Andrew Apau are also on the treatment board and out of the fixture. Despite these absentees, Kotoko remain bullish about their chances of winning on Sunday.
Hearts of Oak, the visitors, have goalkeeper Richmond Ayi missing due to an accumulation of cards. But, Richard Attah has recovered in time for the clash and has been named in the matchday squad for the game. Ahead of the game, the title-holders have rattled the feathers of their opponents by announcing the signing of Ghana international defender Samuel Inkoom.
The 2000 CAF Champions League winners declared the acquisition of the former FC Basel star via their social media handles. Inkoom, 32, is a former player of Kotoko – featuring for the Porcupine Warriors in the 2008/09 season.
He was a member of the historic Ghana U20 side that conquered the globe in the 2009 FIFA U20 World Cup in Egypt. He is capped 44 times by Ghana and played at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup tournaments for the Black Stars.
Kotoko: Danlad Ibrahim – Christopher Nettey, Imoro Ibrahim, Mubarik Yussif, Maxwell Agyemang – Mudasiru Salifu, Fabio Gama, Mohammed Sherif, Richard Boadu – George Mfegue, Franck Etouga Mbella.
Hearts: Richard Attah – Fatawu Mohammed, Dennis Korsah, Mohammed Alhassan, Caleb Amankwah – Abdul Aziz Nurudeen, Sulley Muntari, Gladson Awako – Patrick Razak, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Isaac Mensah
- Since 1958 Kotoko have played as a home team as Hearts of Oak in the league on 52 occasions.
- The Porcupine Warriors have amassed 18 wins against the Phobians
- Meanwhile, Hearts of Oak have also won 18
- There are 16 drawn games involving the two sides.
- H2H since the introduction of the Ghana Premier League on 19th December 1993 which formed part of the 1993/94 season.
- Number of games played between the two sides – 47
- Number of Kotoko wins – 10
- Number of Hearts of Oak wins – 17
- Number of drawn games – 20
- Number of Kotoko goals scored – 41
- Number of Hearts of Oak goals scored – 51
- Franck Mbella has been involved in more goals (17 – 15 scored, 2 assists) than Hearts of Oak’s top three scorers in the league combined (Kofi Kordzi – 7, Afriyie Barnieh – 5, Salim Adams – 2).
- Only Bechem United have amassed more points (11) than the away team (10) in this fixture. The hosts have 9.
- The hosts have the joint-best defence in the league which has conceded just 11 goals – the same as Bechem United.
- Only Dreams FC (36) have scored more goals than the hosts (35) – an average of 1.5 goals per game.
- Cameroonian striking duo of George Mfegue (6) and Franck Mbella (15) have scored 21 out of Kotoko’s 35 so far.
- Hearts have 8 different scorers for their 24-goal haul so far – Kofi Kordzi (7), Afriyie Barnieh (5), Kwadwo Obeng Junior (2), Salim Adams (2), Isaac Mensah (2), Sulley Muntari (1), Gladson Awako (1), and James Sewornu (1).
- The home side have scored 13 goals in their 5 home games and conceded just (2) – Only Karela United and Accra Lions have been able to score against Kotoko at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.
- Hearts have not won an away game in their last 5 matches on the road – W0 D3 L2.
- The Phobians have conceded 3 and scored 1.
Players to WATCH
Kotoko – Franck Etouga Mbella – Position: Forward
Hearts – Daniel Afriyie Barnieh – Position: Attacker
Where to watch the game
StarTimes – Adepa Channel
Prediction: Kotoko 2-2 Hearts of Oak