How Hearts And Kotoko Combined To “Bring Back The Love”
From a near full to the capacity stadium, to a last-minute winner. The first Super Clash of the season was everything if not more than what it was promoted be.
The build-up to the game received massive attention and review from patrons and lovers of the game. It was thereby, no surprise the Accra Sports Stadium was filled with football-loving fans from all walks of life.
Before the game, Accra Hearts of Oak were two points behind Kotoko and went into the game knowing that a win will automatically take them above their rivals. Kotoko, on the other hand, was also chasing a win in other to further extend their advantage on the league log over the Phobians.
It was, however surprising that both teams adopted a pragmatic approach to the game, fearing to commit more men forward. The game was thus expected to be won in the middle of the park.
With midfielders, Emmanuel Nettey and Salifu Mudasiru expected to be key in the middle for either side. Making the game an intense and gruelling battle between both sides which thrilled the fans that attended.
Aside from all the attraction at the stadium, there was one particular one that stood out. Budding youngster of the Porcupine Warriors, 16-year-old, Matthew Cudjoe. The young boy from the camp of former Black Stars striker Asamoah Gyan kept fans on the edge of their seat with his blistering pace on the flanks and undeniable talent in his possession. At times, it was akin to a magician using his magic wand to make the impossible happen. He made it look too easy at times.
The young lad who is set for trials with Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich was introduced into the game in 67th minute and stole the show from that point onwards. Irrespective of the outcome of his trial in Munich, one thing is for sure Matthew Cudjoe has the world at his feet. If he continues on this trajectory, it is not a question of if, but only a matter of when, until he debuts for the senior national team.
After a few bright chances from the host, it was the visitors that broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. Justice Blay pounced on a brilliant cross from a freekick to give his side a crucial lead. Both sides threatened afterwards to score but to no avail. Kotoko then took the lead into the break.
When proceedings restarted in the second period, the host again looked bright and the most likely to score. Emmanuel Nettey delivered a few true passes that cut open the defence of Kotoko. Their equalizer finally arrived in the 64th minute. Joseph Esso pounced on a free header in the Kotoko area to restore parity, after their defence failed to clear their lines.
It was this point that Kotoko will benefit from the magic feet of Matthew Cudjoe who weaved through the Hearts defence and delivered a delightful cross into the area. Emmanuel Gyamfi connected with the cross, but goalkeeper Richard Attah produced a superb save to tip the ball over the bar.
Kotoko however, had the final laugh, Cudjoe again was the chief architect as his goal-bound strike struck the arm of Mohammed Alhassan. Referee Emmanuel Eshun did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Naby Keita coolly converted the resulting spot-kick in the dying minutes to take his side 5 points ahead of their rivals and within two points of league leaders Berekum Chelsea.
The love for the beautiful game may not be back to the level of the glorious past. At least, not yet. However, if you ask me whether we are on course to get there judging by Sunday’s Super Clash. The answer is an emphatic YES. Ghana football is on the rise and long will it continue.