Accra, GNA - Kumasi Asante Kotoko\'s four point lead at the summit of the Onetouch Premier League table will be put under serious threat when they face archrivals Accra Hearts of Oak in an envisaged cagey duel on Sunday.
The gamed slated for the Robert Mensah Stadium at Cape Coast, is the last of the first round of the Premiership, which takes a break on Monday.
As usual, it is a battle of two giants, which will see the hope of the \"Phobians\" of cutting down on Kotoko\'s lead and also confirm their recent dominance over their archrivals.
The visitors earlier in the year picked a draw and a win to annex the Onetouch sponsored GHALCA Top Four and PLB Special Knockout competitions respectively.
For obvious reasons, these historical facts are what will spur the Phobians on to seek for the \"treble\" which can turn their fortunes around in the Premiership.
With a game in hand against Tema Youth, a Hearts victory over the \"Porcupine Warriors\" will boost their chances of surpassing Kotoko at the apex when the outstanding game is cleared.
Kotoko, the better of the two sides in recent league matches are confident of replicating the 3-1 thrashing of their archrivals at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium at Kumasi last season even though the game is coming on at their adopted home grounds, the Robert Mensah Sports Stadium in Cape Coast.
On a more interesting note, the timing of the game seems to be playing a significant role here. On a Christmas eve, the winning team will be the happiest during the Yuletide and of course will brag of using the loser as Christmas biscuits. This will once again occupy an integral part when records of the two sides are compared.
Incidentally, both sides are being handled by expatriate coaches who have displayed high level of technical acumen but the real test will be on display come this Sunday.
Whilst Kotoko\'s coach Telat Uzum prefers an attacking game, his opponent, Mitko Kostadinov Dobrev prefers a tight defensive and midfield game - meaning the winner has to do something extraordinary to carry the day.
For Uzum, the hope of extending his lead on the table will be placed on the doorsteps of strikers like Ahmed Toure, Daniel Bomfa and Nana Arhin Duah to bang in the needed goals to ensure victory, while the absence of lead striker Kwame Obeng Darko\'s services will missing as he is serving a one match ban for accumulating three yellow cards.
Uzum will obviously rely on a defensive network of Murtala Mohammed, Kenneth Ababio, Sammy Addo and Osei Kwame Jnr to keep the opposing strikers at bay.
Heart\'s Bulgarian coach Dobrev will be counting on the return-to-form of speedster Bernard Don Bortey, goal-monger Ablade Morgan and Francis Bossman as well as the agility of his safest pair of hands, Sulemana Abubakari for the maximum points at stake.
The return of midfielders Anthony Annan and Charles Vardis from the camp of the National Under-23 team, the Black Meteors is also another booster that will provide the Bulgarian better options in his favourite defence and midfield game.
Technically and tactically, Kotoko seem to be ahead of Hearts taking their current forms into consideration, but this hardly play a role on matches between the two sides thus making it difficult for an easy predication of the outcome.
It could go anybody\'s way but a stalemate will not be a surprise.
In the other games, Hasaacas will be tough customers for visiting Obuasi Ashgold at the Sekondi Gyandu Park while Feyenoord and Sportive engage each other in a match of equals at the Swedru Stadium.
Kumasi King Faisal cannot dream of returning from the Kaladan Park against Real Tamale United (RTU) \'the Pride of the North\' with a point just as Liberty Professionals will be administering a similar ordeal to Arsenals at the Carl Reindorf Park at Dansoman in Accra.
Gamba All Blacks will trek to the Ho Sports Stadium to taste the wrath of bottom placed Power FC while Bofoakwa Tano and Kpando Heart of Lions sort things out at the Sunyani Coronation Park.
Earlier on Saturday, Accra Great Olympics will clash with Tema Youth at the Ho Sports Stadium.