Hearts of Oak will be crowned champions of Ghana for the first time in a decade and two years in the coming weekend after clinching the title on Sunday in front of their fans at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Daniel Afriyie Barnieh’s first-half header was cancelled out by Paul Kwame, who scored deep into injury time, as Hearts shared the spoils 1-1 with Liberty Professionals.
The draw was enough to secure the Phobians the title because second-placed Asante Kotoko came up short against Bechem United on the same day.
Relief and wild celebrations greeted the full-time whistle, which confirmed Hearts as league winners for the 21st time.
They won it with one game to spare, but it is worth noting that it wasn’t a straightforward season. Inconsistent at the beginning, poor in between and then clutch at the business end, fortunately for them, their last attitude resulted in the crown.
We look at five defining moments in Hearts of Oak’s victory:
Bechem United thumping
During their inconsistent period, Hearts served notice of what they are capable of as they trumped over Bechem United in stupendous fashion, by beating them 6-1 in Accra in early January.
At the time, Bechem were in the form of their lives and were occupying the first position. However, Hearts brought them to their knees with a relentless performance.
Those who thought the 6-1 was fluke must be eating humble pie now. The win was an indication that Hearts could go all the way. Just that a few changes needed to be made.
Serbia coach Kosta Papic, who is credited for the 2009 title, made an impressive start, culminating in the club’s rise to the top four, but results started deteriorated and Papic resigned after accusing the board of directors of interfering with his work.
The fans turned on the board as they besieged the club’s secretariat in Accra to demonstrate against Togbe Afede XIV’s leadership.
They tabled four demands, including a face to face meeting with the Board Chairman and resignation Board members Vincent Sowah Adotey and Alhaji Akanbi.
The two are still at post and Togbe held a press conference to clarify issues. However, the fans demand for the appointment of a Ghanaian coach was granted by the board.
“The NCC demands the immediate appointment of a first-team coach. This should be done in consultation with all the stakeholders. We have realized that the expatriate coaches have not helped the club for the past decade.
“We will not hesitate to take any action when an expatriate coach is appointed. The NCC wants to be involved in who becomes the next Chief Executive Officer and a local coach,” the club’s supporters chief, Elvis Herman Hesse said during the protest.
Samuel Boadu was appointed less than a month after the protest and the rest was history.
Samuel Boadu – The homegrown savior
Samuel Boadu switched from Medeama to Hearts of Oak in March.
A strange decision because the Mauves had a better chance of winning the league compared to Hearts then, but it was his dream job and didn’t want the opportunity to pass him by.
“I had been looking for this opportunity for quite long,” he said at his unveiling.
“This is the time for me to be part of the Phobia family. I am proud to call myself the Head Coach of Accra Hearts of Oak.
“I will do my very best and work very hard for Accra Hearts of Oak”
Well, his best was enough to win them the title. 11 wins four draws and two defeats in 17 games.
Boadu was left distraught when Hearts were beaten 2-0 by Dreams in early May.
The performance on the day was horrible and that prompted him to make some bold calls, including replacing Nuru Sulley with Robert Sowah Addo in the central defence.
And the latter repaid the coach’s faith with impressive performances.
Sowah’s presence secured Hearts seven clean sheets in their 11-game unbeaten run which helped them overtake Kotoko at the summit.
Ibrahim Salifu’s arrival
The lack of creativity in Hearts of Oak’s midfield was a problem that needed solving. The club identified Ibrahim Salifu as the perfect player and paid Eleven Wonders a reported 70,000 Ghana cedis to sign him.
Unarguably, the best signing of the season as he made Hearts’ attack formidable with his ability to create goal-scoring chances from accurate deliveries and defensive splitting passes.
Salifu has scored 3 goals, assisted 9 and earned 8 Man of the Match awards for Hearts.
Super Clash victory
“What I need from the fans is they should come well in their numbers to support the boys, we are going to deliver, and they shouldn’t worry at all. We need the three points and we don’t have a problem with Kotoko, I just have a problem with the three points and we are looking for the three points,” Boadu’s post-match comment after Legon Cities victory.
Title decider as both teams were tied on 53 points with four matches, and the Phobians won. Daniel Afriyie Barnieh scored the only goal in the 1-0 win.
By: Enoch Fiifi Forson|3news.com|Ghana