The biggest fixture in the ongoing GFA Normalisation Committee (NC) Special Competition will take place this afternoon as Hearts of Oak clash with bitter rivals Asante Kotoko in a Tier 1 semi-final duel at the Accra Sports Stadium.
The game has made many headlines in the past few weeks for various reasons, including the sharing of gate proceeds, Kotoko pulling out of the tournament and later rescinding their decision following a misunderstanding with the GFA.
The stakes are high in today’s game as the winner will inch closer to claiming the sole CAF Champions League slot, as well as earning the bragging rights.
The game presents an opportunity to Hearts’ Kim Grant and C.K Akunnor of Asante Kotoko to come face to face against each other for the first time since they took charge of their respective teams.
Both coaches were once teammates in the Black Stars who have turned around the fortunes of their respective clubs, with Coach Akunnor leading the Porcupine Warriors to the group stage of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup. Coach Grant, on his part, has transformed relatively unknown players into a formidable side which went unbeaten in the group stage, leading to their finishing tops in Group B.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic ahead of the big clash, Coach Grant stated that he was focused on making an appearance in Africa with his newly built side after the opportunity to make it through to the final of the Tier 2 competition eluded Hearts, following a shocking defeat to Division One side Unistar Academy.
However, Akonnor’s side has enjoyed a fairly good campaign in both competitions and could be guaranteed either the CAF Confederation Cup or the CAF Champions League ticket, depending on the outcome of their last two games.
In what could be a blow for Kotoko, Coach Akunnor will be without his first-choice keeper, Felix Annan, who is currently in Dubai with the Black Stars, while predating striker, Songne Yacouba might also not be fit enough to partner Abdul Fatawu Safiu who will feature for Kotoko today after failing to make the final 23-man squad of Coach Kwesi Appiah.
With the return of Mohammed Alhassan also from Dubai, Coach Grant will parade his full squad tomorrow against Kotoko in this crucial battle which is fit for the gods.
Meanwhile, Karela United will travel to the Obuasi Len Clay stadium to play Ashantigold in the other semi-final game