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Review: 5 key notes from Hearts-Kotoko game in Accra

first_imgKotoko beat Hearts of Oak in Accra  in the league for the second time in less than a year. The Phobians came into the game on the back of a morale boosting win over Ashantigold while Kotoko were deflated after losing at home to Edubiase.However the scripts were different as Kotoko emerged victorious courtesy a Soulama Abdoulaye own goal. Joy Sports Kweku Arhin takes us through five talking points in the gameSOULAMA IN A MESS BUT MOST RECOVER QUICKLYOn May 25, 2008 an out of sorts and out of form Accra Hearts of Oak under Israeli Eyal Lachman scored three first half goals through Eric Gawu, Francis Bossman and Don Bortey against a free scoring an in-form Kotoko who had the likes of Eric Bekoe, Kojo Poku and Stephen Oduro in their ranks. The game ended 3-3 but the obvious talking point was the surprise half time substitution of then Kotoko keeper Soulama Abdoulaye who did next to nothing to prevent the three goals. Hearts failed to score after the break and the Kotoko faithful have never forgiven Soulama Abdoulaye. Some accused him of taking a bribe while others feel he was manipulated in another realm. Fast forward some eight years later and also in the same month, and Soulama has once again become the victim. This time a more glaring error. Call it a miscue or a miskick but the bottom line is that Soulama shot himself and his team in the foot with an unpardonable own goal. His crestfallen nature and tears are testament to a man who was aware of the grave error he cost his side. Many have interpreted this goal in various ways. While others perceive this be a Mallam goal, others have seen him to have used the wrong technique, while Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda has sided with Soulama saying he used the right technique but was just unlucky. I personally cannot fathom this error and cannot find the true cause of this. It could be Dauda’s presence, it could be a lapse in concentration, it could be the pitch, it could be his boots, it could be something just something, Soulama knows best. The bottom line is that Soulama has been in this situation before and has the ability to recover and provide stops to earn points for the Phobians.MICHAEL OSEI KEEPS TO BASICS AND WINS TACTICAL BATTLE The first half an hour of the game had both sides even in terms of numbers and Michael Osei won the battle tactically. The use of Eric Donkor and Frank Sarfo Gyamfi have been constant ever since he took the role as acting head coach but their role against Hearts won the tactical battle  for the Porcupines. Hearts wide men, Eric Kumi and Isaac Mensah, narrowed the pitch by coming inside while defending afforded Donkor and Gyamfi to stretch the pitch in a way Hearts could not cope. Stephen Nyarko and Theophilus Nyame constantly by passed the midfield press of Hearts by hitting diagonals to each flank. Time and again they found their men and the wide men could have punished Hearts with more incisive crosses. When his side went down to 10 men, Osei switched to a 4-4-1 formation with Dauda Mohammed the long ranger. Kotoko mixed short passes with a more direct passes to Dauda Mohammed who was a handful for Hearts because of his pace and strength. Nothing extra ordinary from Michael Osei. He kept to the basics, exploited the flanks, exploited the skill set of Dauda Mohammed and proved effective. OBED OWUSU DESERVES CREDITThe Kotoko striker has come in for a lot of criticism following his abysmal form infront of goal. But yesterday’s game as Michael Osei put was won tactically and the best player in that regard was Obed Owusu. The former Berekum Chelsea striker started up top with Dauda Mohammed but constantly dropped into midfield to apply pressure on Mustapha Essuman and Sarbah Laryea. Kotoko dominated the early stages as a result of this and Hearts only found their feet after Essuman wriggled his way out of trouble with a couple of deft touches. After the red car, Owusu was deployed on the left hand of midfield and many thought he will be substituted as time went. Rather, he grew into the position holding up play and most importantly providing defensive cover for Eric Donkor. He was seen in his own half providing block tackles and doing the dirty work. Two roles well executed by Owusu. A perfect team player.  HEARTS HAVE A GEM IN ISAAC MENSAHMuch talk in the build up to the game had been centered around Cosmos Dauda but Hearts best player by a mile was Isaac Mensah. The skillful started out wide but time in time out, came in central with the ball to provide a creative threat for the Phobians. His pace and most importantly his trickery proved a handful for Kotoko and in particular Edwin Tuffour Frimpong who was sent off as a result of the youngster. Mensah was not shy to ask for the ball neither was he shy to take on his men. His defensive duties were also not abandoned as he fell back to a form a second line of four in the Hearts midfield. A gem, one for the future who can go places. His end product can however can be worked on to make him to all round footballer. HEARTS MUST STRIVE TO KEEP OLLENU ASHITTEY FITIn a surprise move by Kenichi Yatsuhashi, defensive midfielder Sarbah Laryea came off for winger Ashittey Ollenu. It was a surprise considering Hearts had two wingers (Eric Kumi and Isaac Mensah) on the pitch. Ollenu took a central midfield role and it was unfortunate Soulama Abdoulaye was sent off immediately after his entry. However, Ollenu made an impact to vindicate the substitution by Kenichi. He drove the heart of midfield with his direct running and pace and sliced open the Kotoko defence a couple of occasions. He brought an additional attacking threat for the Phobians and destabilized the Kotoko line when he run at them. His best move freed Kennedy Appiah was cross was side footed wide by Dauda by all the play was down to Ollenu’s running with the ball. He is a useful asset for the Phobians and a potential game changer. It is expedient he is kept fit for the rest of the campaign.–Follow Kweku on Twitter: @nana_odum. Get more updates on Facebook/Twitter with the #JoySports hashtaglast_img

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