The two rivals, different clubs from different cities separated only by the Flagstaff House and the Manhyia Palace, have always loved to hate each other.
However, after decades of shared dominance, now, in 2021, it’s Kotoko gunning for Premier League glory while Hearts struggle and stutter to make the top six. No other match is given as much importance as these fixtures.
They are more than just football matches; these are matters where the pride of the club and fans are at stake. It is an all-out war to earn bragging rights.
It took plenty of soul searching, but kickgh.com have reached a conclusion on a combined XI of the players available for the weekend’s showdown.
Razak Abalora (GK) - Unfortunately for Richard Attah, it's not 2019. Razak Abalora makes the side. Kotoko's shot-stopping remains supreme. his top-notch performances on the field thoroughly belie his age, while his influence on the team continues to grow day by day.
Christopher Nettey (RB) - Nettey has come alive in the last few months, improving his ability on the ball as well as offering more threat in the final third. He is always a threat down the right-hand side, with his delivery from wide and tidy passing.
Mubarik Yusif (CB)- Yusif has improved Kotoko’s defence immeasurably since last campaign, and he’s established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the league. His reading of the game, aerial prowess and speed across the ground have been a huge asset to the Kotoko backline, and has given a more solid foundation to grind out results when they aren’t playing at their best.
Abdul Ganiyu (CB)- Ganiyu has developed into one of the league’s finest defenders at Kotoko, balancing excellent ball-playing ability with defensive nous, and would start in this imaginary XI.
Raddy Ovouka (LB) – The Congolese is one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s a bundle of seemingly boundless of energy down the left -hand side, providing a deadly end product for Hearts’ front three. His recovery pace is exceptional, meaning that he can dig himself out of any trouble he finds himself in. He continues to fend off competition from William Dankyi, which is far easier said than done.
Benjamin Afutu (DM) – A genuine holding midfielder, the former Karela man is just adept at breaking up the play as he is starting off attacks. His presence gives Hearts’ more forward-thinking players the freedom to express themselves higher up the pitch. He’s more than capable of influencing proceedings with his wide range of passing, and possesses a canon of a right foot shot.
Latif Anabila (CM) - Anabila has started his Kotoko career on a good note. He has been superb in recent outings for the Kumasi club. His positional sense is impressive as well, as he knows when to cover for advancing full-backs and when to get himself into scoring positions. There are few players you’d trust more from shrewd tackles too.
Manaf Umar (CM) – Umar is a fantastic midfielder. Not only is his passing second to none, but he is solid defensively and can help dictate the tempo of any game. On top of that, he is devastating at shooting with either foot from any distance. A staggeringly good player- Hearts fans are truly blessed to witness him feature for their club.
Fabio Gama - If you don't love Fabio Gama, you don't love football. Simple as that. The diminutive number ten is a joyous player, who continues to age like a fine wine. He's one who can control the tempo of the game and that's why he starts in midfield.
Patrick Razak (ST) – The Hearts forward continues to blossom for his side. Whereas before, there were many, now there are very few faults in his game. He has honed himself and become one of the club’s success stories in recent weeks. The Porcupine Warriors should fear Razak this weekend.
Kwame Opoku (ST) - The Kotoko striker has enjoyed a fine start to the season and has notched eight goals in twelve games. More generally, Opoku has become a vital member of this Kotoko side, producing the necessary quality when on the ball as well as acting as the first line of the press when out of possession.