MATCH REPORT: HEARTS 1-0 EDUBIASE
Accra Hearts of Oak kicked off the 2016 Ghana Premier League season with a 1-0 defeat of bogey-side Edubiase United at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Debutant Samuel Yeboah came off the bench to score the only goal of the game in the 79th minute of action.
Hearts had threatened throughout the game to find the opener but they were made to wait till the final 11 minutes of the game to breach Edubiase’s resistance.
It was a day for debutants as Coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi grabbed his first win in the Ghana Premier League, whilst substitute Yeboah got the winner and Samudeen Ibrahim was named man-of-the-match.
Kenichi named four debutants in his starting XI with Richard Akrofi, Kennedy Appiah, Mustapha Essuman and Samudeen Ibrahim getting the nod together with Soulama Abdoulaye, Owusu Bempah, Robin Gnange, Eric Kumi, Thomas Abbey, and Selasi Adjei.
The fans had come in their great numbers to witness the league opener, including a contingent from the Japanese community in Ghana, and they were in good spirits as Kenichi’s side took the game to Edubiase.
Slowly, a pattern was set with the Phobians attacking and the visitors defending deep and in large numbers.
It made chances difficult to come by but when a one arrived, Eric Kumi amazingly dragged his shot inches wide after a good lay-off in the box.
Earlier, Soulama Abdoulaye had to dive to his right to fist a goal-bound effort out for a corner kick.
Edubiase had another good chance but with the Hearts defense flat-footed, Tahiru Malik headed the ball over the bar, unchallenged in the box from an inviting cross.
Hearts excited in midfield led the chicanery of Samudeen Ibrahim but they found it hard to break the Edubiase defense.
Three minutes past the half-hour mark, Selasi Adjei should have opened the scoring when he sneaked to the first post to meet a good cross from Thomas Abbey. But the striker got the run right, however he could not steer his header on target.
Hearts went into the break without being able to break the Edubiase defense.
Back from recess, Kenichi introduced Isaac Mensah for Kumi. The change did not produce any immediate result, and so the Japanese coach sent on Samuel Yeboah for Selasi in the 57th minute.
Hearts were getting into the rhythm as the game wore on, but Edubiase changed their defensive game plan into hard tackles with Samudeen and Mustapha Essuman being the major victims.
Thomas Abbey and the whole stadium thought Hearts had found the opener when the winger pounced on a loose ball in the box, but after taking a touch, he saw his effort cannon off the crossbar and back into play in the 67th minute.
Kenichi sent on Cosmos Dauda for the winger as Hearts went all out.
The technical team was proved right when second substitute Samuel Yeboah scored the winner. It was not the prettiest of goals, but the striker showed good anticipation to sweep the ball into the net during a scramble in the box in the 79th minute.
Hearts did not sit back on the goal as they threatened to add another to their tally. However, it could not come. But the Phobians had done the job already.
Kenichi got his first ever win in the league in his first game whilst Hearts ended a three-game winless run against Edubiase.
The Phobians have Medeama on the fixture list next week, but the smiles can continue as this promises to be a very good season.
HEARTS XI vs EDUBIASE: Soulama Abdoulaye, Owusu Bempah, Kennedy Appiah, Richard Akrofi, Robin Gnange (c ), Sarbah Laryea, Eric Kumi (45 Isaac Mensah), Mustapha Essuman, Selasi Adjei (57 Samuel Yeboah), Ibrahim Samudeen, Thomas Abbey (70 Cosmos Dauda).
Hearts unused substitutes: Samuel Akurugu, Isaac Baadu, Vincent Atingah, Richard Yamoah.
Booked: Mustapha Essuman (55) Kennedy Appiah (89)
GOAL: Samuel Yeboah (79)
Edubiase United vs Hearts: Benjamin Mensah, Tahiru Malik, Christopher Agbashie, Musa Nuhu, Ibrahim Samed, Abdull Hannar, Richard Yeboah, James Boadu (81 Haminu Dramani), Kwame Adjei (64 Muhammed Mudah), Zuberu Fuseini, Godfred Asiamah (74 Emmanuel Nketiah).
Unused substitutes: Kwaku Duah, Matthew K Boafo, Dennis Osei, George Arthur.
Booked: Ibrahim Samed (69), Godfred Asiamah (71), Christian Agbashie (79)
MATCH REFEREE: Cecil Fleische