With no serious footballing activity happening in the country, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko have agreed to play a two two-legged friendly to, among other things, get their respective teams in shape as they hope for the return of domestic club competitions.
The first of the two comes off this Sunday at the Baba Yara Sports stadium. Though a friendly, both clubs would still go in with their best arsenals to ensure they emerge victors and own the bragging rights at least for a week.
So, Sunday’s clash in Kumasi has all the makings of a humdinger, with both sides desperate for a win, and we pick out THREE battles that could determine which team will come out on top at the end of 90 minutes.
Benjamin Agyare v Songne Yacouba
A defender and a striker couldn’t be so far apart in terms of the way they are portrayed by football fans and the media.
Agyare who joined the Phobians at the start of the season from Heart of Lions has been a revelation with his mature play and leadership quality at the heart of the Hearts defence, but is expected to have a much tougher assignment on Sunday as he is likely to have to mark Kotoko’s Burkinabe import, Songne Yacouba, who has been the reason behind Fabin and Kotoko’s recent upsurge.
His work-rate and ability on the ball have never been in question but add to that regular goals, and you are dealing with one of the best in the business.
Agyare is known for switching off at times, so if Yacouba can improve his sharpness this weekend then he can certainly unlock the Hearts defence, and it would be no surprise to see the Burkinabe net his first goal against the Phobians, and win the day for Kotoko and win the private battle against Agyare.
Richard Senanu v Aminu Alhassan
This fixture is certainly Senanu’s toughest, thus far. The former Phar Rangers midfielder was a standout performer on his debut in Kotoko’s triumph over Elmina Sharks and has since recorded consistent impressive performances for the club.
An energetic presence, the defensive midfielder shields the ball with aplomb and showcases a pleasing desire to carry the ball forward when he did win it back.
Add that to a varied range of passing, and it’s easy to see Senanu developing into the complete midfield package but how will he fare against the resilient Aminu Alhassan?
Alhassan is now a mainstay in the current Hearts setup thanks to a spellbindly showing against Kotoko at start of the season.
It was just his first game for the Phobians since returning from a loan spell with Great Olympics, but it felt like he’s been around forever. Alhassan never stops.
Game after game, “Mr. Reliable” never lets his manager down. He operates in an environment where his ball work is combined with grit.
He is strong, quick, good in the air and is adept to using his body to shield the ball away from danger and his speed ensures he can make powerful recovery tackles when required and also a good passer of the ball. Well, the pair are set to do battle at the weekend, and many will fancy Alhassan to emerge victorious in their personal war.
Patrick Razak v Samuel Frimpong/ Amos Frimpong
When Razak is focused and confident, there isn’t much out there to stop him. His performances are there for all to see. Not only does he score, but he provides a constant outlet between the lines for the Phobians, refusing to stand still and always playing with his head up.
Possessing searing pace, sublime dribbling abilities and strength, he’s is a hugely proposition for any defender to handle in a 1v1 situation.
Indeed, being so adept in this regard has positive ramifications for his teammates too, for he regularly gets double or triple teamed, which importantly creates space for teammates to utilise.
His movement is another highlight of his, using this to surge in behind with superbly timed runs, find space or be instrumental in creating overloads.
He can operate on both the left and right flank and would thus be a threat to Kotoko’s lateral defence with Samuel Frimpong on the right and Amos Frimpong on the left.
Razak is a class act with the ball at his feet, and his showdown with Frimpong and Amos on the wings will be a fascinating one.