In the bustling days leading up to almost every Super Clash, it is usually commonplace for several news media across the length and breadth of the country to generate excessive buzz about the only game that matters most.
Hearts v Kotoko: Two titans of Ghana football rekindle wild rivalry in season’s climax (Pulse Contributor’s Opinion)
Welcome, Super Clash. Hearts and Kotoko playing each other at the back end of the season offers us a sort of climax like never before, not least with a title at stake and within each other’s grasp.
Sports shows are hosted on television and on radio, a few middle-aged football experts grace the occasion, one after the other some players are highlighted and grimly examined. Comments are passed on these players by the show’s very distinguished guests: some showering delightful praise, others condemning these professional footballers and tearing down their very noble souls. This is all normal. And, of course, to a lesser extent this is also done for every other Premier League game.
Yet, there’s an unspoken law that games between Hearts and Kotoko, the two most worshipped clubs in the country, carries its own different weight. The Super Clash, since the beginning of time, has always been like this, has always generated mass attention, has always been that game on the calendar many cared a little bit more about. There’s usually a real, authentic buzz about these games at times you sense whichever side wins the league matters little and who actually prevails in this clash is all that matters.
Evidently, there has been an extra layer added to the immensity of the occasion. This Super Clash won’t just be a contest to accumulate all three points, nor will it be just about revelling in the glory of your club while catching sight of opposition fans bitterly grieving, but the sense that something far greater is at stake: of a league title to be won, of a glorious opportunity to make a bold, huge leap towards a major piece of silverware.
In a way, and in principle, you sense to some degree Hearts of Oak between the two clubs will want this more. And it is entirely possible to see why the Phobians will play this fixture all guns blazing: their stained and bruised history in the last 12 years owing to their trophy drought. Throughout this barren period which has seen dozens of players and coaches come and go, Hearts have tried and tried and failed and failed.
For in all this excruciating phase, as they angrily wrestled with fate to rediscover their long lost mojo, as they endlessly and tirelessly poured their blood, sweat and tears into making Hearts great again, arch-rivals Asante Kotoko trotted off unimpeded to the summit of Ghana football to install themselves as the paragon of excellence in the country. And so this is why Hearts would want to roar loudest on Sunday, would want to devour its prey mercilessly and in cold blood.
Even so, it’s hard to find any tangible difference between these two clubs when you peer a little closely at the league table. Doubtless Hearts of Oak are in the better form and their splendid attack has seen them score goals for fun. And notably, too, their solidity in defence has been one deserving massive plaudits. And yet, it will be utterly abominable to overlook Asante Kotoko’s purely sinister demeanour. There’s a reason they remain the most successful club in the Ghana Premier League. There’s a reason “Kum Apem A, Apem Beba,” is painstakingly inscribed on the club’s emblem.
It is worth recalling the Premier League has eluded Asante Kotoko ever since they last won it in 2014. And so the thought of prevailing in this mega-fixture and taking a major step towards the title is what will make their ebullient supporters lick lips and salivate. Under Mariano Barreto, they’ve only lost a game in the league, and have slowly but surely been on the ascendency.
Naturally, as ever, form guide will matter only little in this sort of full throttle, awfully taut game between Hearts and Kotoko. It is fundamentally anybody’s game here: whichever team has their day, carries the day.
On Sunday afternoon, for 90 tense minutes the entire nation will suddenly quieten and come to a standstill. As spectators in the Accra Sports Stadium drown the game in celebratory songs and chants, those at home glued to their televisions and radios will observe action with a newly found obsession. Every wrong call by the centre referee will draw some chuckles. Many, in all the petty bickering over which side is the better, would chide and scold aggressively when decisions fail to go their way. Doubtless, curses would be blurted out in indignation, too.
And so we wait for the days to be trimmed down to hours, hours shaved off to minutes, till the seconds draw closer and in 90 restless minutes we surrender our fragile emotions to the spectacle of 22 men kicking about a piece of neatly stitched spherical white object with all the seriousness they can muster.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf
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