More than meet the eye

Throwback: How Ghana’s Hearts Of Oak exited 1986 Africa Clubs Championships

Accra Hearts of Oak won the domestic football league in 1985. It was a second straight league triumph. Hearts retained its place among the elite of African football between 1984 and 1986.

The 1986 Africa Clubs Championships saw the first match played against Walladan club of Banjul, Gambia where Hearts drew 1-1. Hearts scored first before the hosts restored parity to end the game in a draw. Hearts had earlier beaten Wallidan in the first leg in Accra 2-0 to advance to the one-sixteenth stage.

Horoya FC of Guinea Conakry was the next opposition. Again, Hearts drew in the away tie in a one-all thriller before wrapping the deal in Accra with another 2-0 win.

Then Hearts entered the strong headwinds of the competition. The first quarter-final tie took Hearts to Kitwe in Zambia where the team was defeated 2-0.  The optimistic Hearts supporters believed Hearts were going to assail the Zambians when Santrofi Acquah opened the scoring in the 19th minute of the return match.

Tried as Hearts did they could not increase the tally. This emboldened the Nkana Red Devils to surge forward, which landed them a vital away goal. 3-1 aggregate, Hearts eliminated.

The line-up of Hearts was Felix Mills, Sampson Lamptey, Hesse Odamtten, Thomas Hammond, Collins Paha, Joe Amoateng, Sam Yeboah, Abuba Seidu, Isaac Ayipey, Emmanuel Quaye (Joe Tex) and Kofi Abbrey. (Freeman Turkson as a substitute who replaced a defender).

The next day, Ghana’s leading newspaper, the Daily Graphic with a picture of Kofi Abbrey in the thick of affairs in the match, headlined it ”Hearts bubble burst”.

Kofi Abbrey in post-football career


Several years later, a patron of Hearts disclosed, that the Hearts loss to Nkana was more than meet the eye, as management later discovered. ”Smelled a rat” is an apt description of what the club official found out.

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