|The Nuhu brothers: Fusseini and Alhassan. Can you tell the difference? Well, that is Alhassan on the right with the thumbs up (I could only tell given his shirt number 4 on his shorts! haha)|
ACCRA--- It was not until 30 minutes into the game that New Edubiase started smelling a possible upset. They had started the game not really knowing what to expect from a Hearts team that had been largely underwhelming all season, but then had turned up in Kumasi to beat Kotoko last week. There was a sense that they had arrived in Accra at the wrong time, just off the back of Hearts’ confidence boosting win over their arch rivals. 'Surely, Hearts will be on fire, all guns blazing. Let’s sit back and defend and try and limit the damage. It’s going to be a long day,' they must've thought.
It didn’t quite happen like that. Hearts turned up looking like they weren’t the same team that took over Kumasi last week. They had relapsed back to the familiar lack of creative spark. “I was very very sad,” Hearts coach Addo remarked. “The way I expected the boys to react and and behave in the first half, I did not get it. We did everything for them not to be lethargic too but they just did not play today.”
Edubiase were smart and alert enough to respond. They started noticing that Hearts were looking woefully ordinary, that they needed to snap out of their inferiority complex and go for the kill. You sensed it in their sudden burst of confidence, initiating wave after wave of attack, taking the game to the Phobians. Their reading of the game was spot on too. When they stepped it up a notch, Hearts could not cope. Within two minutes, Edubiase’s twin duo of Alhassan Nuhu (42nd) and Fusseini Nuhu (45th) had put the Bekwai-based club two up at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Hearts would pull one back on 83 minutes, a result of what was a desperate, hard work-laden attempt to salvage something from the game. Shaun Mason October, their South African left full back whose performances over the last two games had earned rave reviews, saw his cross from the left deflected into the Edubiase goal. In the end, Edubiase got the victory they hadn’t expected – their first away league win in over a year, spanning nine previous unsuccessful trips.
October’s goal was a rare highlight in what was his toughest game in Ghana yet. Alhassan Nuhu’s tireless pace and trickery kept the young man busy and sweating all game, exposing a nervous side to him not seen yet given his incredible composure through previous displays. Right down the middle, the other Nuhu - Fusseini - was also proving to be a thorn in the flesh of Hearts’ central defensive duo of Philip Boampong and captain Robin Gnagne. Edubiase were giving Hearts serious migraines, with the terrifying twins at the heart of it all, their brilliance worsening the throbbing with each attack.
It was the second consecutive game in which the 25 year old brothers had scored in the same game. “We did it last week [against Wa All Stars] and this week we’ve done it again,” a beaming Alhassan Nuhu, who is the vice captain of the club, told the post match conference. “I’m very happy my brother and I scored for our team to win such a big game because Hearts is not a small team.”
The brothers, who joined New Edubiase from Tema Real Sportive six years ago, have since gone on to become cult heroes at the club. Both original forwards, Alhassan is the more versatile one of the duo, as he has played and excelled across the midfield. Against Hearts, he totally owned the right wing, bringing the game to life each time he had the ball. His goal saw him dash inside from his wing to pick up a pass from the marauding captain Nasir Lamin. Holding off a Hearts defender, he curled the ball in with his weaker left foot from just outside the penalty box, the ball going in off the post.
Fusseini, though, is the more physical one who loves to play on the shoulders of defenders. His clever movement meant he got in behind the Hearts defense on countless occasions. His goal was a typical poachers’ finish. He got on the end of a well-weighted through pass during a counter attack, instinctively following the ball via a howler from the visibly nervous Hearts goalkeeper Seidu Mutawakil (coach Addo described this as a “Christmas gift.”). His aggressive perseverance meant he found himself with the ball at his feet and with the Hearts goal yawning, the goalkeeper and his defenders sprawled out on the ground behind him. His composure to look behind him, slow down and casually pass the ball into the net was quite the sight.
|Post match presser. L-R Hearts reserve Goalie Abdoulaye Soulama, Hearts coach Herbert Addo, Edubiase's Alhassan Nuhu and their coach Anthony Commey|
Hearts coach Herbert Addo was full of praise for them. “I first met them when I picked them in 2010 during my time as local Black Stars coach. At that time they were very fast and aggressive but they lacked experienced. Now they are more experienced and importantly, still fast and aggressive,” he said, proudly patting the back of Alhassan who was seated by him at the presser. “It’s interesting because before the game, I told them good luck; which was unfortunate bcause they went on to score against me!”
Alhassan – undoubtedly the man of the match – was unassuming in his response to a question that sought to know whether he performed so well because Black Stars coach Avram Grant had been monitoring the game as a specatator from the VVIP area. “I came here to play my heart out not because of Grant. I came here to play the very same football I love and know. I love to play and I always want to improve. And you know, it’s not that easy to get into the Black Stars. No it’s not,” – he was smiling, shaking his head, his voice drowning – “…no, it’s not, at all. Ei, it’s not.”
The win was Edubiase’s first over Hearts in four meetings, also being the first time they’ve beaten the Phobians away from home in six years. After going winless in their first three games this season, things look good all of a sudden, with three wins in their last four matches, two of them coming on the bounce. They are now 9th on the log, just a point off the top four and three behind second placed Aduana Stars. Their long serving coach Anthony Commey – a colleague of mine calls him “Edubiase Mugabe” because there are hilarious tales of him refusing to leave even when served with sack letters – looked very satisfied.
“Our season didn’t start easy,” the coach, who has been in charge of them since their Premier League debut in the 09/10 season, said. Commey was the mastermind behind the cub’s greatest ever achievement – their FA Cup win three years ago occurring after a memorable win over rivals Ashanti Gold in an Adansi Derby final. “We hope to build on this win to climb up the table. We just want to do better and get into the top four.”
“Maybe,” he added, shrugging. “We can take the FA Cup (again) too.”
---Ashanti Gold are now six points clear at the top, after coming from behind to beat struggling Kotoko 2-1 at home. Striker Bernard Morrison – who scored the winner, a goal many who were at the game highly praised – says they want to maintain this gap and go all the way. With hopes of his club’s first title in 19 years, the marksman, who is now on four goals, might be getting ahead of himself given how early it is, but you can’t begrudge him. AshGold are in some form and it would take a lot to stop them.
---Asante Kotoko, the latest victims of AshGold’s early season fire, are in a huge mess of their own. After last Saturday’s home loss to Hearts, another loss – though in a difficult away game – is the last thing they needed. Last season, they had lost their match day seven fixture too (a 1-0 loss away in Bechem) but the big difference here is that they had won their previous six consecutive games from the beginning of the season, whereas they’ve only won twice this term. The pressure is building on coach Ms-Ud Didi Dramani, and it did not help that he claimed “Anyone who understands football knows my job is not under threat”.
---Look who suddenly popped up up in the goal king race? Sheriff Mohammed bagged another brace in Inter Allies’ 2-0 win over highly rated Aduana and is on four goals. This is a bit weird, but I somehow (and this was unplanned) met him just before the game at their team hotel. My senior colleague Fred Gyan Mantey, who works with Inter Allies, was teasing him that his brace the other day against Edubiase had been a fluke. He laughed and said he’d prove him wrong. A few hours later, bang!
--Top scorer Gilbert Fiamenyo (five goals) has failed to score in his last three games (he missed the Edubiase game due to an illness, coach Addo said) And that barren spell has turned out to be sunshine that other marksmen are making hay off. The Berekum Chelsea duo of Stephen Baffour and Kofi Owusu have caught up with him, while Sheriff Mohammed (Allies) and Bernard Morrison (AshGold) are all a goal away now.
---Berekum Chelsea are now in third place! Can you believe it? They just popped up from nowhere. Three wins in their last four games and they are now cozying up at the top. And with their 11 goals in seven games, they have scored three more goals than any other team this season too. I’m particularly made up for their striker Kofi Owusu, who had a torrid rime at Aduana last season following his move from King Faisal (where for me he had been brilliant). “I believe my move [to Chelsea] is the best because I was not having the needed playing time which affected my progress immensely," Owusu told Goal Ghana's Evans Gyamera before the start of the season. “The officials at Chelsea have entrusted their faith in me and it paid off during our pre-season matches. I have now gotten back my lost confidence and I know I will score a lot of goals for the team this season to achieve our target.” A lot of goals, eh? How about this season’s first hat-trick to show for all that talk. Owusu scored thrice in his side’s 4-2 win over Regional rivals Bechem United. He's now on five goals.
---After a forgettable time away in South Africa, AshGold’s Yakubu Mohammed is back home in Obuasi, and he’s back to what he does best: banging in the goals. That’s two goals in his last two games.
Hearts of Oak 1-2 New Edubiase United [Shaun Mason October : Alhassan Nuhu, Fusseini Nuhu]
WAFA 2-0 Liberty Professionals [Mathew Antwi 2x]
Medeama 3-2 Greta Olympics [Benjamin Batture, Joseph Tetteh, Kwame Boahene : Agbesi Dotse 2x]
Inter Allies 2-0 Aduana Stars [Sheriff Mohammed 2x]
Berekum Chelsea 4-2 Bechem United [Kofi Owusu 3x, Stephen Baffour : Noah Martey 2x]
BA United 1-0 Hasaacas [Francis Kyeremeh]
AshantiGold 2-1 Asante Kotoko [Yakubu Mohammed, Bernard Morrison : Latif Mohammed]
Wa All Stars 0-1 Heart of Lions [Sam Yeboah]