Ghana’s biggest domestic fixture is under threat of extinction from a severe lack of interest from fans, if you believe the naysayers.
Attendances are not what they used to be, especially in Accra. When Hearts of Oak host Kotoko, the Accra Stadium struggles to be filled.
Veteran journalist Ken Bediako, however, looks on the brighter side. With over four decades of reporting under his belt, does the former ‘Daily Graphic’ man feel the tie has lost its luster?
“The first leg of this game this season generated more than one million cedis. It’s still an attraction I believe.”
“It is the lack of top stars and budding talents are leaving. That is the problem. That’s the problem and where you have a gap.”
“But right now we have a good crop coming up with most of them being in the local Black Stars. No matter what, the Hearts Kotoko matches are still an attraction.”
For fans themselves, Bediako has a point.
“We should look forward to a good game between Hearts and Kotoko. It’s always and will always be a good game,” says Aziz Haruna Futa of Hearts’ Musical Chapter ‘0’ fan club.
“When we are on form we beat them 4-0, 3-0.”
Another fan, Bala Sonic, is ready to sacrifice study time for this clash.
“I have exams on Monday but I have never missed a Hearts Kotoko encounter in Accra and I must be there,” the PR major reveals.
Thirty eight thousand electronic tickets have gone on advanced sale in several outlets in Accra and Kumasi and a packed stadium is expected.
Sunday’s game comes at a time when both clubs are in different moods. Kotoko (third with 41 points) are in an advanced stage of transition, while Hearts (ninth) have only just started theirs.
“We know we are rebuilding but you can bear with me that we are regaining a good form at a good time,” Futa says.
But it is Kotoko who have been the better team in the past season and half, as popular fan Ali Maradona reminds us.
“The Champions League was just a bad thing that happened but we all know we are a better team when it comes to all round play. We are very assured of a good game.”
Bala Sonic goes a step further to speak of the Reds’ best attributes as compared to Hearts.
“Hearts have Mahatam Otoo who is in great form, yes. But for us Kotoko fans we are happy about our well-rounded team. We are good in every department.”
Kick off is at 3pm at the Accra Sports Stadium, four days before the 12th anniversary of the May 9 disaster of 2001.
All the fans we spoke to were quick to plead for good behaviour from the hordes expected.
By : Gary Al-Smith/Citifmonline.com/Ghana