Match: Hearts v Esperance (0-4)
Time: 3pm, Saturday, June 6
Venue: Accra Sports Stadium
Former African champions Hearts of Oak face a daunting task as they look to achieve a miraculous turnaround in the CAF Confederations’ Cup third round knockout phase.
Hearts lost 4-0 in Rades in the first leg.
The “Never Say Die” spirit of the Phobians will be put to test as Hearts of Oak face Tunisian giants Esperance at the Accra Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Hearts are buoyed by the miracle of El-Wak and more recently in 2006, a victory over St.Georges of Ethiopia after suffering a 4-0 defeat in Addis Ababa.
In the build up to this game, the Phobians have been in bullish form playing three games, scoring seven and conceding none against Afienya United, Elmina Sharks and Tamale Utrecht.
The 20-time Ghana Premier League Champions will have to better their recent home results in the Caf Conderations Cup should they have any chance of progressing.
In three outings in Accra in this competition, the Phobians have scored three and conceded two. Hearts beat A.S Police 1-0, Olympique Ngor 2-1 and lost 1-0 to Djoliba.
The last outing between Hearts and Esperance in Accra ended 3-1 to the Phobians which secured them the Champions League title in 2000.
Hearts Team News:
Coach Herbert Addo will still have to do without Owusu Bempah and Seidu Mutawakilu who are both on international duty with the Black Satellites in New Zealand.
Burkinabe international Soulama Abdoulaye has joined his colleagues in camp after joining his national team in France and is expected to start in goal.
Emmanuel Hayford and Thomas Abbey have recovered from injury and could force their inclusion into the match day squad.
The only injury doubt is Ashittey Ollenu who is racing against time to be fit after he limped out of Hearts’ F.A Cup game against Tamale Utrecht last Sunday.
Gilbert Fiamenyo sounds confident and says he will score two goals.
“It is not easy, but we are going all out, because it is a make or break game. By all means we need a win and my target is two goals.
“I can’t score four goals, so the other players ought to score some to help us take out Esperance,” he told Fox fm.
Herbert Addo knows it will be a very hard task to win to advance, but he’s hedging his bets anyway. “It’s a difficult game, but we’ll be ready for them [Esperance],” Addo told Oman FM.
“Any supporter who has doubt about the team’s prospects should stay at home and not come to the stadium.
“Those who have confidence in the team should come to the stadium.”
Esperance Team News :
Head Coach Jose Manuel Ferreira De Morais will head into his last game as Esperance coach still without the services of his two top strikers, Yannick N’djeng and Haythem Jouini.
Despite this, he still will have Hearts of Oak’s tormentor in chief, Samuel Eduok at his disposal.
Ghanaian international, Harrison Afful will also be available and is expected to continue in his midfield position for Esperance.
Physical trainer Sabri Bousaziz says his charges are ready to battle.
“We are physically ready for Hearts of Oak on Saturday, they [Hearts of Oak] came to Tunisia we beat them 4-0 and we played better than them.
“We arrived yesterday [Thursday] in Accra and the game is on Saturday, I can confirm judging from what I see the players are not tired, they look good and ready for Hearts of Oak,” Sabri told AllSports.
The physical trainer added that they will be counting on Afful Harrison ahead of the game – “Afful Harrsion is a Ghanaian and he knows Hearts of Oak very well so we will be counting on him ahead of the game and I’m sure we will beat Hearts of Oak to seal our qualification”.
Papa Bakary Gassama will direct affairs and he’ll be assisted on the lines by compatriots, DikoryJawo and Suleyman Jallow whilst Maudo Jallow operates as the fourth official. CAF has also appointed Mahatma Issah as the match commissioner. All are from Gambia.
Esperance trainer photo credit: AllSports
Story by Ghana/Joy Sports/Kweku Arhin & Gary Al-Smith
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