Sweet taste of rivalry outside Accra stadium

Scene outside of the Accra Sports Stadium ahead of the titanic fixture between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko yesterday were captivatingly raucous, perhaps, reminding fans of the CAF Confederation Cup cracker between them at the same venue on January 2, 2005.

As early as 10.30.am when the Times Sports got there, fans of the two teams had started pouring in around the stadium, with the surroundings erupting into a cacophony of songs that probably suggested which side was going to carry the afternoon away.

The fans drummed, sang and danced to thunderous cheers from their colleagues.

Draped in their traditional colours of red, yellow and blue, Hearts fans were seen frenetically taunting their rivals in a somewhat friendly manner, but strongly predicting a 1-0, 2-0 victory, whilst the all-red-and-while Kotoko contingent spewed back energetically with a 3-1 conjecture.

“We’re going to beat them and repeat last season’s 1-0 dose,” screamed a dyed-in-the-wool Hearts disciple, a forecast frantically brushed aside by a Reds’ faithful.

Commercial and private vehicles – emblazoned with flags of Hearts and Kotoko, as well as motor-cycles that drove pass, tooted their horns in joviality. It was like a festival in Osu, the former seat of government.

Clearly, the two sides were scratching for that extra bit of respect – clawing for supremacy and the bragging rights.

It was not an uncommon scene between the two rivals, though yesterday’s was taken to yet another level.

Whilst the supporters did their own thing, the scores of military, police officers deployed to the stadium to ensure an incident-free match, were also on the qui-vive – and lay calmly in wait for any eventuality.

Petty traders also seized the occasion to sell paraphernalia of two clubs. They sold like hot cake.

Such was the gorgeous ambiance that heralded yesterday’s nerve-jangling tie, traded by two of the nation’s Gullivers. It is part of the sweetness of football, the nation’s passion.

Indeed, if rivalries have always exhilarated fans and sent journalists into frenzies, yesterday was one of them.

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