After I witnessed Hearts, Kotoko share the spoils on Sunday in Kumasi, these are the five things I observed from the game.
Wilful Cobbinah is the most creative player on the local scene
I have taken time to watch the Hearts of Oak number 10 and after the Phobians 1-1 drew against Asante Kotoko, I have no doubts in my mind to say that he is the most creative player on the local scene at the moment. Wilful Cobbinah has been living up to the task week in week out since he joined Hearts of Oak in his second spell.
He was the difference between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko in their clash on Sunday. Asante Kotoko dominated play but they lacked the creativity to split hearts defence apart to create a clear-cut opportunity. Hearts of Oak didn’t look like a side that were going to take the lead especially in the second half of the game, but Cobbinah managed to win a ball and with an onlook pass he split the watertight defence of Kotoko for Fatau Dauda to supply the ball to Kwame Kizito who slotted the ball home for the opener.
Contentious Man of the Match award
The Ghana Premier League (GPL) Man of the Match is selected by the Match Commissioner for every league game and it appears a lot of people have issues with their judgement and Sunday was no exception. Emmanuel Gyamfi was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the Asante Kotoko game and from my observation it should have gone to someone else. Gyamfi is a fine player and he is one of the players who have been outstanding this season in the Ghana Premier League. He made a lot of runs throughout the game, but there wasn’t any moment that he changed the game for Asante Kotoko by creating an opportunity or giving tailored measured pass to boost the attack of the hosts. I was surprised when he was adjudged the Man of the Match and the other media men in the press box were also stunned by the news.
The Man of the Match award has come under several criticisms and it is a high time our Match Commissioners made the modalities for awarding it clear in order not create confusion in our games and make it lose its essence.
Ghanaians still love local football
The Asante Kotoko one all draw against Hearts of Oak witnessed a large crowd despite high ticket prices for the game. The least ticket was sold at GHC 10 cedis and despite plea from supporters for a reduction it wasn’t reduced. Aside the centre line and some few areas in the VIP wings every corner of the stadium was packed and this gave me the indication that Ghanaians are not tired of local football.
However, the game needs the necessary hype and good football to wet the appetite of local football fans. People would want to watch good football every weekend and when they get that guarantee they would even choose a local game over an Arsenal-Chelsea clash or a Manchester-Liverpool tie.
The strong mental fortitude of Kotoko players
The playing body of the Porcupine Warriors played their hearts out against Hearts of Oak on Sunday. Pundits and fans alike thought Asante Kotoko were not ready to do battle with their bitterest rivals, Hearts of Oak, after they were hit by a road accident that claimed the life of the deputy Equipment Officer of the club, Thomas Obeng Asare. Hence they were going to suffer a humiliating defeat against Hearts of Oak.
However, they showed mental toughness by dominating Hearts of Oak especially in the second half when they found their rhythm. They proved all people who doubted their readiness for the game wrong and I think it is commendable.
Referee Dally Gagba lost control of the game
The centre referee at a point lost control of the game- He let go infringement and tackles. Dally Gagba reluctance to caution players or whistle for infringements could have marred the beauty of the game. Coupled with this he made a contentious penalty call when he awarded Asante Kotoko a penalty and this could have resulted in a confusion if Hearts had lost the game. I don’t think officiating was at its best.