The two most successful sides in Ghana. From cup finals, to competing for league titles, to managerial feuds, this rivalry has had it all over the years.
The Phobians had the upper hand for the most of it, but in the last 5 years the Porcupine Warriors have really risen up to the challenge.
Kotoko looks to take as advantage of Hearts’ indifferent league form to pick up a win and pursue their title aspirations but buoyed by their ‘Never Say Die’ motto, you dare not underrate the potency of the Phobians especially when in fixtures of such magnitude.
We pick out the THREE big battles likely to take centre stage in the 3:00 pm kick-off on Sunday and assess who shall come up on top in those specified duels.
Patrick Razak v Imoro Ibrahim
Razak has endured a difficult campaign this season and has been nowhere near his best. The tricky winger has missed several chances in the final third and the Phobians will need their inspirational talisman to come up with a magical performance against the Porcupine Warriors.
He has troubled Kotoko in the past and has a good record against them. Kotoko have invested in their defence this season, however, and have seen a discernible improvement in their results over the past few weeks.
Imoro Ibrahim, in particular, has been a formidable wall in Abdulai Gazale’s defensive wall and has added an element of solidity to his side. He has the pace and guile to trouble Hearts’ Razak and will want to win his battles on the pitch this weekend.
Kwame Opoku v Mohammed Alhassan
Boisterous, battling, and gifted with a benevolent finishing, Opoku can show these qualities on his day and will relish reminding Hearts of his talents.
The man who will no doubt be in charge of shackling the hitman this time around, Mohammed Alhassan has reportedly brought calm and stability to a previous erratic defence since the start of the season but one could argue that the centre-back has yet to show signs of his value when up against a significant test.
Two imposing players, the most interesting aspect of this will be to see who comes out top of the thrilling aerial duels that will no doubt be sprinkled throughout the match.
Should Alhassan his centre-back pair survive the test of the rampaging Kwame Opoku, than praise should be unremitting.
Benjamin Afutu v Abdul Latif Anabila
Both players had difficult starts to life at their clubs and became the most criticized players in the could, and for all their skills, trickery, and ability to unearth that killer pass, they often flatter to deceive on the big occasion and are usually at the epicenter of vitriol from both sets of fans.
An energetic presence, Afutu 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 Afutu developing into the complete midfield package but how will he fare against the resurgent Anabila?
Anabila, a mainstay in the current Kotoko setup thanks to a spellbinding displays. It is just his first season with the club but it felt like he’s been around forever. He never stops.
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 Afutu to emerge victorious in their personal war.