Just when everyone had struck June 16 off their calendars, Asante Kotoko rescinds its decision to withdraw from the Normalization Committee (NC) Special Premier League Competition, ensuring the club’s date with archrivals Hearts of Oak next weekend is on again.
It has required a bit of compromise on the part of both Kotoko and the NC: the Porcupine Warriors’ demand for a greater percentage of the game’s gate proceeds has been met, but they are forced to swallow their pride and play at the old enemy’s Accra fortress in a one-off duel.
Whether or not Kotoko’s concerns were/are genuine is a subject for some other day’s debate (if we should have it at all), and while the NC would feel it could have done without the chaotic build-up and all that drama, the climax of this episode on Sunday could put Game of Thrones’ underwhelming finale to shame.
The Ghanaian capital has not hosted a top-flight meeting between the nation’s two biggest clubs since the 2017 controversy-drenched clash that saw Hearts emerge victors courtesy a penalty that — as was belatedly suggested by Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ revealing ‘Number 12’ exposé — might have been gifted out of bribe-induced bias.
And next Sunday’s fixture would double as the pair’s first of a truly competitive sort after that in Kumasi which saw Patrick Razak’s goal hand the Phobians a win during last season’s prematurely terminated Ghana Premier League campaign. As though exacting vengeance for those reverses isn’t a theme thrilling enough for the upcoming encounter, Kotoko’s forfeiture and subsequent U-turn creates extra hype, raising the stakes of a ‘Super Clash’ to heights not seen since the memorable 2017 FA Cup Final.
Kotoko-Hearts games have always been the biggest on the domestic scene, but the menu has lost some of its spice in recent years, with many suggesting Number 12’s depressing revelations may have taken it down another notch or two. Suddenly, though, the next installment promises to be worth more than it originally was, and a massive turnout could be anticipated. In the end, whether for 45% or 10% of the cake, everybody wins — and with Kotoko’s little tantrum to thank!
Sammie Frimpong — Daily Mail GH