Five reasons why Accra Hearts of Oak lost to Kumasi Asante Kotoko in the MTN FA Cup final

Published on: 30 October 2017

It’s not often you hear Kotoko beat Hearts to a Cup or even a player score a hat-trick against the phobians in a final. But, the final of the 2017 MTN FA Cup saw a different script written, headlined by one of the most criticized strikers in the league, Saddick Adams.

Saddick Adams scored a first half hat-trick that condemned Accra Hearts of Oak to a ninth straight year without a major trophy and propelled Kumasi Asante Kotoko to a ninth FA Cup triumph.

Despite, Saddick’s heroics, there are some flaws that were evident in Accra Hearts of Oak’s defeat and here are five points that cost the Phobians the FA Cup title.


Coach Frank Nuttal’s tactical switch

The Scotsman has thrived on a 3-5-2 system since arriving from Kenya for the Accra Hearts of Oak job. Coach Nuttal could be credited for major transformation in some of the players due to the system he adopted for the season.

Players like Fatawu Mohammed, Thomas Abbey and Kwame Kizito have all flourished under the tutelage of the former Gor Mahia coach. Albeit, others have also failed to adapt to his style of play including the club’s top scorer last season, Cosmos Dauda.

Ahead of the final against Kumasi Asante Kotoko, a typical Nuttal side, will see a back line of Robin Gnagne, Vincent Atinga and Richard Akrofi or Inusah Musah and any two of the aforementioned, with Fatawu Mohammed and a Joshua Otoo, or Kasenu Ghandi or even Thomas Abbey playing as wing backs.

In the middle, it’s always been Leonard Tawiah, Winful Cobinna and Patrick Razak and Kwame Kizito upfront with either Cobinna right behind or Thomas Abbey.

However, On Sunday he went for the orthodox 4-4-2 formation, which failed drastically as the phobians failed to weave two or three passes together in the first half.


The Saddick vrs Atinga conundrum

By now we all know who’s won the battle. Obviously Saddick Adams won! A hat-trick against Accra Hearts of Oak is such a magnificent achievement.

But Vincent Atinga will look back at this game and think, you don’t bet with a player with so much quality as Adams has. Atinga has been arguably the best defender in the Ghana Premier League after some captivating performance in the GPL, which saw him earn a Black Stars call up.

However, his reputation might be dented after allowing his primary nemesis to score three first half goals. Atinga might not be the culprit to all the three goals but his miscued header placed the ball right at the feet of Saddick Adams who made it count for the Porcupine Warriors third goal.

Atinga’s communication with defensive partner Akrofi was totally absent.


Saddick Adams proves worth

The former Black Starlets striker has come under constant criticism for being one of the highest paid players in the league but struggles to score. Which I disagree! Because, despite joining the porcupine warriors in the second half of the season, his goals has been the reason they are in the final and as a matter of fact won the FA Cup.

Adams has had some bad games, one of those being against Accra Hearts of Oak but like all top players you don’t always get it right.

However on a bigger stage, the 27 year old delivered. His first half hat-trick is worth every penny the porcupine warriors paid for him.

The player who once donned the red, white and blue colours of Spanish giants Athletico Madrid will be famously remembered in the red and white colours of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.


Hearts big names showed up late

Five of Hearts players were credited for Ghana’s WAFU triumph. They became overnight stars. Vincent Atinga, Patrick Razak, Thomas Abbey, Winful Cobinna and Kwame Kizito were expected to tilt the game in favour of Accra Hearts of Oak.

The names mentioned could make every pundits team of the season but unfortunately when it mattered most they failed to show up.

Vincent Atinga was reduced to the cleaners by Saddick Adams, Thomas Abbey scored but his impact was not felt, for a player who had scored 13 goals and had four assists in the GPL, a lot was expected.

Winful Cobinna, technically gifted and can change a game by just a snap of the fingers however he had a quite game only to show up a bit in the second half. Patrick Razak wept after the game, you can understand why; he had a better game amongst the WAFU Stars.

Kwame Kizito was missing in the game like a melting ice.


Coach Steve Pollack’s game plan worked

Having joined from Berekum Chelsea, the English man will be surprised to have ended the season with a trophy to his name. He managed to turn tragedy to triumph following the accident that saw him nearly lose his legs.

In the final, it was not about the accident or his legs but the legs of his players on the pitch. Clearly the Porcupine Warriors were quick to the second balls, much composed and played as if there is nothing to lose knowing perfectly well what they wanted.

Never, in Pollack’s wildest dream would he have thought Adams will score a hat-trick. Meanwhile, he kept faith in the player he worked with at Berekum Chelsea and the combination did work for him.

But in general, the total output of the players of Kumasi Asante Kotoko was definitely because of the work put in by Pollack.

By Lukman Evergreen Mumin