It’s make or break for Hearts of Oak on Sunday

Published on: 13 October 2022

After a disappointing start to their CAF Confederation Cup campaign, Hearts of Oak face a herculean task of salvaging their continental campaign as they host AS Real Bamako in the return leg at the Accra Stadium on Sunday.

Last Saturday, the Phobians were badly bruised after suffering a 0-3 loss at the Stade Modibo Keita in Bamako, and now have to score four unanswered goals if they are to progress to the next stage of the competition.

Caretaker coach David Ocloo received a baptism of fire as his side went down 0-2 by half time and conceded the third goal in the 74th minute as the team’s defence leaked badly.

From today when they resume training, the technical team will aim at tightening the screws in defence and also ensure that their attackers rediscover their scoring boots when they face the Malians in Accra.

In last Saturday’s clash, the Hearts forwards, including Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, wasted a number of scoring opportunities but they cannot afford to be wasteful on this occasion as they need to strike at the least opportunity to overturn the three-goal deficit and get the decisive winning goal.

Coach Ocloo, an eleventh-hour addition to the Hearts technical team following the sacking of head coach, Samuel Boadu, will have to work on the players’ confidence as they return to the drawing board ahead of Sunday’s return encounter.

So far, Hearts are without a win in four matches, in both domestic and continental competitions, scoring just two goals. These are poor statistics and reflect the current state of the club and how much work lies ahead of Coach Ocloo and the players.

The pressure to avoid another first round exit in the competition will weigh heavily on the technical handlers and the playing body but the Phobians can also find motivation in their Never Say Die mantra and some of their great comeback stories over the years to attempt another giant-killing feat they have become noted for.

Talents abound in the team for Coach Ocloo to plot a winning strategy to clip the wings of the Malians on Sunday, including ensuring an early goal for his side to build on.

With players such as Barnieh, Mohammed Alhassan, Denis Korsah, Konadu Yiadom, Samuel Inkoom, Seidu Suraj and Gladson Awako, Hearts have quality to dig deep and deliver another major comeback story to keep their continental campaign alive.

Even as they go looking for goals, it would be important for the Phobians to be alert in defence and keep an eye on Real Bamako forwards, Ismael Bamba and Cheickna Diakite, who scored in the first leg, as another goal by the Malians in Accra could spell doom for Hearts.

Source: Graphic Sports