Hearts of Oak yesterday clinched their 11th MTN-FA Cup with a splendid performance to beat Ashantigold SC 8-7 on penalties at the Accra Sports Stadium.
The Phobians broke their 21-year jinx to clinch the double of the season, having already grabbed the Premier League as they last won the trophy in 2000.
Hearts came into the game as favourites with Coach Emmanuel Boadu relying on his usual 4-3-3 formation with Richard Attah in post, the back four of Mohammed Alhassan and Robert Sowah as centre backs, skipper Fatawu Mohammed and Raddy Ovouka as the right and left backs respectively.
The midfield had Caleb Amankwah, Benjamin Afutu and Frederick Ansah Botchway. The forward trio was Isaac Mensah, Daniel Barnieh and Patrick Razak with the later going with a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Kofi Mensah mounted the post for Ashgold, Richard Agyemang, Ampem Dacosta, Frank Akoto and Amos Addai occupied the back four positions. Eric Esso sat in front of the back four, Yaw Annor, Amos Nkrumah, Seth Osei and Stephen Owusu in midfield and Mark Agyenum as the lone man upfront.
A quick incursion in the first minute nearly gave Hearts the opener, but goalkeeper Kofi Mensah denied Patrick Razak after he was set up by Isaac Mensah.
Ashgold quick settled, found their rhythm and dominated the Phobians but failed to create any daring chance.
After 15 minutes of play, Hearts took control and almost got the opener, but Razak’s low drive missed narrowly.
Minutes later, a bad tackle on Razak resulted in a freekick but was hit wide by Caleb Amankwah.
Ever-present midfielder Benjamin Afutu connected well from Fatawu Mohammed’s corner but his header hit the woodwork to deny Hearts a deserved lead.
After the 30th minute, Ashgold’s Yaw Annor went pass his marker to shoot from range but Robert Addo Sowah blocked his effort. The last 10 minutes was a fairly balanced game between both sides as no goals were produced at the end of the first half.
Minutes after recess, Hearts came close to score but the scrappy play inside the penalty box was cleared by Ashgold’s Richard Agyemang. Moments later, a double chance fell for Yaw Annor’s whose chip missed closely before Amos Addai shot was saved by goalie Attah.
Hearts kept pressing and almost took the lead but Isaac Mensah’s powerful strike was parried out by goalie Kofi Mensah before Raddy Ovouka also shot one from outside the box resulting in a corner.
Ashgold brought on Isaac Opoku Agyemang and David Abagna for Mark Agyekum and Eric Esso to add more bit to the attack as Hearts also introduced Salifu Ibrahim and Victor Aidooo for Isaac Mensah and Patrick Razak respectively after the 70th minute to keep Ashgold on their toes through the flanks.
Ashgold should have been up by a goal but Stephen Owusu blasted wide his effort from a rebound Amos Addai’s earlier strike.
With five minutes left to play, substitute Daniel Afriyie could have sealed a dying minute winner for Hearts but missed closely taking the game to extra time.
Keen on fetching a goal, Hearts substituted Frederick Ansah Botchway for Emmanuel Nettey came in the 110th minute as the game geared towards penalties shootout.
Centre man Daniel Laryea signaled for the end of proceedings after an exhausting 120 minutes and additional minute of intriguing football.
Hearts’ goalkeeper Atta scored his side’s 11th kick and save his opposite’s number Kofi Mensah’s effort to win Phobians’ 11th FA Cup.
BY LINUS SIAW NARTEY