ACCRA Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko will engage in tricky ties in today’s week 20 Ghana Premier League games ahead of their El Clasico match, come Sunday at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
Current league leaders, Hearts of Oak, have a cagey encounter against Berekum Chelsea at the Accra Sports Stadium with their sight set on stretching their lead on the log. With their sight firmly fixed on lifting the league title this season, the first in seven years, Hearts looks set to make it a double over the ‘Blues’ this afternoon.
Berekum Chelsea were unbeaten at home in the Ghana Premier League since December 29, 2012 but the Phobians ended that rich vein of home form on May 8, this year, when they inflicted a painful 1-0 home defeat, courtesy a Samuel Yeboah 59th minute strike.
In that game, Chelsea had their inspirational captain and club top scorer Saddick Adams absent due to national team duties and according to coach of the side Solomon Odwo, his absence played a huge part in their defeat.
Adams, who became a transfer target for the Phobians during the just-ended transfer window, would feature in today’s game with his eyes fixed on avenging the painful defeat his side suffered in the first round.
But the defence line of Hearts, marshaled around captain Robin Gnange and Insuah Musah, according to coach Sergio Daniel Traguil, has other plans for Saddick and his army.
In a total of 15 league matches played between the two sides, the Phobians have won five with Berekum Chelsea winning six with four ending in a stalemate.
Breathing on the neck of the Rainbow Boys on the league log is their bitterest rival Asante Kotoko and Wa All Stars who have top-spot defining fixtures to deal with.
While Kotoko would be in Cape Coast to face Cape Coast Ebusua Dwarfs, Wa All Stars seems to have a fairly easy task of jumping back to the summit of the table with a win at home against debutant Techiman City at the Wa Park – should the Phobians stumble.
For Kotoko, they would have to deal with a revenge mission on the minds of their host whom they thrashed 3-0 in Kumasi in the first round.
The Kotoko camp is unsettled at the moment, especially after the infamous goalless draw with Bechem United on Sunday in Kumasi which left the fans fuming at the team for a missed opportunity to go top of the league table.
Wa All Stars would also seek to avenge the embarrassing 3-1 defeat in the first round game played at the Nana Ameyaw Park in Techiman, when they come up against Techiman City FC.
Wa All Stars’ coach Enos Adepa and his charges are in no mood to drop points twice in a row especially after being dislodged at the top of the table after going down 2-1 at Sogakope to WAFA.
Techiman City, although not good travelers, may just have some surprise under their sleeve. Their league title aspiration is still high and they are ready to keep it alive with a good result.
In other matches, CAF Confederation Cup campaigners Medeama SC will be hoping to make it a double over the ‘Scientific Soccer’ lads Liberty Professionals at the Tarkwa and Aboso Park and keep alive their hopes of clinching the title this season.
Despite the struggles in the CAF Confederation Cup, Medeama seems to have found their rhythm in the league, staging a late rally that saw them move from the relegation blues to their current 10th position on the table.
They have experienced a steady rise which was occasioned by an improvement in the players performance and have suddenly established their Tarkwa base as a waterloo for many visiting clubs.
Medeama are motivated to win this tie knowing that the maximum points plus an outstanding game from the 19th week fixtures would push them to a top four place.
Mid-table side, WAFA will make a short trip to the port city of Tema to battle struggling 15th-placed Inter Allies in a game of equals.
WAFA are also enjoying a good run of form with Sunday’s win over former league leaders, All Stars coming as a climax to their quest to finish the season on high.
They look poised to snatch a point from the game that Allies need to breathe life into their poor campaign which is coming just after staging one of their brightest seasons in Ghana’s league history.
Bottom-placed New Edubiase return to their favourite home grounds, the Nana Gyamfi Park in Bekwai, to play host to 13th-placed Sekondi Hasaacas. Dreams FC will stay at the Theatre of Dreams in Dawu to host Aduana Stars with Bechem United clashing with Obuasi AshantiGold in Bechem.
By Raymond Ackumey