Hearts coach, Frank Nuttall gained superiority over Kotoko in the second half as his Phobian side took advantage of a scrappy Super 2 clash to gain all three points at stake.
The Scottish began the game in a 4-1-4-1 system which changed to a 4-3-3 in attack saw Ivorian strike Alexandre Kouassi lead the line upfront. Striker Samuel Yeboah was given a role on the wide right flank with Thomas Abbey operating from the left. The midfield saw Malik
Akowuah as the only holding midfielder with Daniel Kodie and Samudeen Ibrahim right infront of him.
The back four was unchanged for the third straight with Musah Inusah and Vincent Atinga continuing their partnership in defence.
Hearts struggled in the first partly because the team lacked movement but more importantly the wide men of Samuel Yeboah and Thomas Abbey lacked the speed to make runs behind the Kotoko defence which saw Hearts continually go long to the Ivorian striker without any success.
Having anticipated a back three from Kotoko, Nuttall was expecting to match the Porcupines in that zone as well as maintain midfield dominance but with Kotoko playing a 4-4-1-1, his team were left quite bare in the wide areas. And the Scottish rightly admitted he had to change things.
“The first half was a difficult first half,” Nuttall admitted. “But only because the coach of the other team changed his normal formation or the formation he would normally play against me because we have played before against each other [in Kenya] so you know there’s a surprise there but once I managed to reorganize at halftime and looked at how we can change the team formation then in the second half we were fantastic. I would have to say we were very, very good. The mentality was really strong, the desire was there, the motivation was there so I am really, really pleased.”
At halftime, he introduced Patrick Razak as Hearts also played the 4-4-1-1 similar to Kotoko. Samudeen Ibrahim and Malik Akowuah played as the pair in midfield with Thomas Abbey and Patrick Razak playing down the flanks and Samuel Yeboah playing off Alexandre Kouassi.
This change brought mobility and speed to the Hearts attack as well as Samuel Yeboah using his intelligence to pick up good positions in between the Kotoko defence and midfield and it was no surprise Patrick Razak and Samuel Yeboah combined for the decisive moment of the game.
A good victory for Nuttall who will hope this victory will set the tone for the rest of the season.
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