Ghana Premier League: Hearts vs Kotoko – preview, team news, stats, prediction, kick-off time

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Hearts of Oak vs Asante Kotoko in the Ghana Premier League on Sunday (kick-off 3.00pm).

Team News

Kumasi Asante Kotoko have a fully-fit squad available for the Ghana derby at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Ghana goalkeeper Razak Abalora is expected to be restored to the 18-man squad for the game after being left out of the team that triumphed 2-1 over Karela united in Obuasi. Midfielders Emmanuel Keyekeh, Solomon Sarfo Taylor as well as defender Christopher Nettey could all be recalled by Kotoko’s Portuguese trainer Mariano Barreto.

Former Ghana U23 goalkeeper Kwame Baah is likely to be dropped from the squad along with Augustine Okrah, Kwame Adom Frimpong and Andy Kumi Francis.

After making three changes for the midweek win over Karela, manager Mariano Barreto is again likely to shuffle his pack as the title-chasers go in search of a 6th successive win in all competitions.

Midfielder Emmanuel Nettey will start for Hearts of Oak after sitting out of the midweek 2-1 win over Legon Cities due to fears of suspension as the former Inter Allies midfielder was a booking away from facing a match ban.

However midfielder talisman Salifu Ibrahim suffered muscle cramp in the midweek game and might not recover in time for the game. The 21-year-old was substituted in the 85th minute after going down to a challenge. Samuel Boadu will be hoping to have his influential midfielder back onto the pitch for the clash.

In an event he fails to recover in time Frederick Ansah Botchway could join Benjamin Afutu and Nettey in a 3-man midfield and the former Liberty man could be assigned the job of a No.10.

How to Follow

Hearts of Oak vs Asante Kotoko is a game Ghana Sports Online followers can watch in-game clips in our live Facebook and Twitter update sessions as well as our website. Highlights will also be published on our website.

The game will be streamed live on the StarTimes App and telecasted live on the StarTimes decoder on Adepa TV.

Radio commentary will be available on all major radio stations in the country with Peace FM and Asempa FM expected to draw most of the listenership on the matchday.

Prediction based on teams model, playing style, system, squad quality and mentality

Asante Kotoko still very much remain a team that grinds results based on the brilliance and quality of individual players. Mariano Barreto’s side is still working to establish telepathy with his squad. This is evident in the way he has shuffled his cards in games. It’s an unsustainable model in the long-term in terms of their title credentials especially at this crucial stages of the season when there are just four games to end the league season. Kotoko’s problem for this fixture is that Barreto is still going to have to tinker with his squad again. Despite being the side with the best defence in the league the Porcupine Warriors are yet to have a bonafide no.1. A commander in the between the sticks who oversees the duties of the back four. Abalora, Kwame Baah and Felix Annan have all been used in goal in the course of the season.

Fabio Gama, who has 8 goal involvements in 24 appearances for the club this season, has scored just 4 times from open play and comes into this Super Clash encounter having played just once against the Phobians. Kwame Opoku, who missed a penalty in the reverse fixture in February, is still Kotoko’s leading scorer of the Ghana Premier League with 6 goals despite leaving the club over 116 days ago to join Algerian side USM Alger. Winger Emmanuel Gyamfi remains the most experienced player available in this Kotoko squad but has only 5 goals same as the Brazilian. The 26-year-old has sparkled in the Red jersey scoring back to back matchdays against Inter Allies and Karela United. This Kotoko side have failed to score against two of the Premier League’s top four in their last three games against the top four teams.

They come up against a Hearts of Oak side who can attack you from all angles. If Kwadwo Obeng Junior doesn’t get you, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh probably will and if he doesn’t, then Emmanuel Nettey will stink you from a cracking shot from a spilled ball sourced from a Salifu Ibrahim expertly delivered set piece. Obeng Junior has scored 9 times in the league, just a goal shy of the combined numbers of Kotoko’s top two scorers (10). The Phobians have maintained a consistent starting XI in competitive league games barring any injuries or absenteeism from international assignment in their last 10 games or so. Samuel Boadu, since taking over, has preferred Richard Attah in post with Congolese Raddy Ovouka, Fatawu Mohammed, Robert Addo and Mohammed Alhassan comprising of the back four. Benjamin Afutu Kotey, Emmanuel Nettey and Salifu Ibrahim completing a midfield trident. Salifu’s role has been more of a free role and the former Eleven Wonders man has been a torn in the flesh of most teams with vision and talent that permits him to deliver passes that is able to break more than defensive lines to locate the precised runs of either Barnieh or Obeng Junior.

One big minus of Barnieh’s game is his finish which is a huge deficit but the 19-year-old has the legs to run at defenses for 90 minutes and beyond and is also blessed with serious nimble foot and technique that see him ghost past even the toughest of defenses. Kotoko must be wary of this attacker.

Hearts’ odd season in recent time has come on the back of a highly spirited performance introduced by Samuel Boadu whom players have described as their motivation. Even fringe players tossed onto the pitch to play like starters.

Considering the playing style and energy of the two teams the Phobians have a slight edge over the Porcupine Warriors and the Phobians could run away with a smooth 3-1 win.

Opta Stats

Hearts of Oak have won just 1 of their last five home league games against Asante Kotoko (W1 D3 L1), including a 1-2 defeat in the truncated 2019/20 season. They’ve not lost consecutive home league games against Kotoko in the Premier League era.

Hearts of Oak are looking to win five consecutive home games in the Premier League for the first time since 2006.

Asante Kotoko have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three games and have conceded 4 goals in their last five games in all competitions.

Hearts of Oak defender Fatawu Mohammed has provided 5 assists in his last 7 games against Kotoko in all competitions.

Asante Kotoko are unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions (W8 D3) and have scored 19 goals in the process and have conceded 8.

Hearts of Oak are unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions (W9 D1). The Phobians have scored 20 goals and conceded just 3 in the process.

Hearts of Oak have not beaten Kotoko since March 2017 (1-0). Defender Vincent Atinga scored the solitary goal of the game.

Mariano Barreto could become only the second foreign coach to beat Hearts of Oak since Serbian Bogdan Korak in 2011. Hearts had beaten every Kotoko side managed by a foreign trainer in recent seasons.

Hearts of Oak’s Kwadwo Obeng Junior (9) has scored more goals than Kotoko forwards Osman Ibrahim, Evans Adomako and Andy Kumi Francis in the Ghana Premier League.

Probable XIs

Hearts of Oak: Richard Attah – Fatawu Mohammed, Raddy Ovouka, Robert Addo, Mohammed Alhassan – Benjamin Afutu, Emmanuel Nettey, Salifu Ibrahim – Kwadwo Obeng Junior, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Patrick Razak.

Asante Kotoko: Kwame Baah – Ibrahim Imoro, Samuel Frimpong, Andrews Apau, Abdul Ismail Ganiyu, Patrick Asmah – Habib Mohammed, Fabio Gama, Mudasiru Salifu, Emmanuel Gyamfi – Evans Adomako.

Prediction: Hearts of Oak 3-1 Asante Kotoko

Source: Sports

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