Kotoko 1-0 Hearts of Oak: Five things we learned

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Asante Kotoko have extended their gap over Hearts of Oak to 16 points after clinching a 1-0 victory at the Baba Yara Stadium on Sunday.

Franck Mbella Etouga found the net from the penalty spot in the 17th minute and his goal ended up being the difference-maker for the Porcupine Warriors.

Hearts huffed and puffed especially in the second half but in the end failed to find the equalizer, moving Prosper Narteh’s side one step closer to the title.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Fan attendance must improve

This game is considered the biggest game on the local terrain. Hence, the stadium was expected to be full as Kotoko and Hearts battled each other. Yet, there were sections of empty seats around the stadium which was disappointing. Some blame can be shifted to the Ghana Football Association since they rescheduled the match to the same time as other games in the Ghana Premier League and beyond. But, the process starts with the fans. Ghana v Nigeria in Kumasi provided a more energetic atmosphere and this has to reflect in the Ghana Premier League too.

Kotoko make a stronger case for the trophy

Asante Kotoko struggled in their earlier tests against the Phobians this season, drawing one and losing one. Going into the game, there were also some injury concerns highlighted by Prosper Narteh Ogum and a win looked bleak. But, the players stepped up in this one, getting an early goal and keeping Samuel Boadu’s side at bay for the entirety of the game. Some stakeholders have questioned Kotoko’s ability to get it done against the big teams. This game could not be any bigger and they have silenced the critics. If they maintain their form, the Ghana Premier League trophy will certainly be theirs.  

Franck Mbella Etouga has to be kept at all costs

Going into the game, Mbella was criticized for not showing up against the Phobians in the last two games, and rightly so. The Cameroonian struggled to get touches and make any impact previously. In this game, however, with the support of Fabio Gama, the league’s top scorer was more involved albeit he made some mistakes and capped it off with his 16th goal of the campaign from the spot. He has been linked with some clubs abroad and the suitors will not stop. It is up to the management of Kotoko to find ways of keeping him, especially if they aim to compete in Africa’s continental competitions.

Awako with another disappearing act

Gladson Awako was brought on by Hearts of Oak with the aim of improving the overall quality of the team this season. In the previous campaign, the former Great Olympics star was sensational and was arguably one of the best players the local scene could offer. This season has been a disappointment overall for the 31-year-old, showing only flashes of that heralded quality he possesses. He was totally marked out against Kotoko and has to step up in future games.

Hearts have work to do for next season

With the negative result for Samuel Boadu and his men, they can kiss the league trophy goodbye as they are too far behind other competitors, especially Asante Kotoko who are now 16 points ahead with just 10 games to go. The team have generally struggled to get the results this season which cost them a chance to compete on the continental stage and the local one. They now have to make early preparations for the following season and come back stronger.

By: Bill Eshun|3Sports|Ghana

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