Citi Sports editor, Nathan Quao, rewinds to the weekend and talks about the magnificent Asante Kotoko and the top teams winning again in the Premier League in his latest Monday column.
At very irregular moments, cup finals leave you asking “how did that happen?” because those ones tend to follow the strangest of scripts.
Sunday’s MTN FA Cup final between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak was one of the ‘strange’ ones. I say strange because Hearts were expected to come into the match with a lot of confidence and give off a great performance. That, of course, was not going to guarantee victory but it was to follow the form guide.
But did not happen. It was Kotoko who looked like they had prepared for the match. It seemed all their travails of the season set them up for this one match against the old enemy.
They attacked from the first second and after 81, Saddick Adams reminded all of us of his quality. He steadied himself to finish well after a move from the left wing.
Then, he scored a penalty after 30 minutes. His third for me, was the final part of full performance. All good strikers take a gamble and go for what may be a non-existent chance.
He did that and pounced on Vincent Atingah’s rather lame header towards his goalie, Ben Mensah. Adams went round the goalkeeper and scored his hat-trick; the first for a Kotoko player against Hearts in a first half since Opoku Nti did that back in 1983.
The game was up for Hearts at that point.
I wonder how Hearts of Oak will recover from the loss. The players were too slow and did not see what was happening.
Could it also be that their coach Frank Nuttal got his selection wrong? Atingah and Richard Akrofi in central defence could not work together.
Malik Akowuah was more interested in hacking players down than doing some good break-up play in midfield. The Phobians looked strangled all game and their second half push was woefully inadequate.
The pain of the defeat will have to stay with them and remind of faring better when they get the next opportunity.
For Kotoko, the joy of victory should also remind them of what they can achieve if they work hard. Next time, it could be them facing the barrel of the long gun of a loss.
Big boys get their way in Premier League
The Premier League’s top teams had to kick on from their work in the previous week and for some, the need for a win was so great and of course, all the action was live on Citi 97.3 FM.
The team that needed to get something positive was Manchester United against Tottenham and they did. I was at a wedding on Saturday so, it was pure torture as I had to keep refreshing my Twitter handle for updates from the Citi FM account and all my football apps for the latest.
May the Lord forgive me but it had to be done.
Later, when I watched the highlights, I noticed that the Red Devils had better tempo and more aggression but Spurs settled and showed their hand.
However, Man United went for the kill and a good change by Jose Mourinho brought Anthony Martial on for Marcus Rashford and the French forward struck the winner in the 81st minute.
Ander Herrera was good at running around to keep tabs on Spurs’ midfield because that was the only way to stop them from thinking well and creating openings for Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli who had to find the goals in the absence of Harry Kane.
I did not expect Mourinho to sit back for this one. He was at home and he had to show Spurs that winning was equally important to him.
But Spurs did look fairly blunt without Kane and there is no hiding it. If Llorente will be their second option, then they need to start working on how use him else they will struggle.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all got their victories and even though, the scorelines show straight forward story lines, the matches themselves were tougher. However, big teams respond to challenges and conquer them.
Arsenal had to fight back from a goal down, Liverpool missed a penalty while Chelsea had to withstand Bournemouth’s industry.
But how did Michail Antonio not use years of playing in the league to run down the clock for West Ham to beat Crystal Palace? He must have felt sick at the sight of Wilfried Zaha scoring an equaliser in the 96th minute.
For once, Slaven Bilic can say that his players (or Antonio) let him down badly.
That is the Premier League for you. Things change in seconds. A missed chance will be punished. A lack of toughness will be used against you. A sense of uncertainty will leave you lost and under pressure.
Chelsea and Man United will face off in the next round and if that does not excite you, nothing else will.
Citi Sports will be at the AM & PM Sports Bar for an outdoor event so join us there.
Young English Kings
Whoever thought that a day would come and we would all say that England won a football title? That day is here. England are kings of both world U-17 and U-20 football.
They added the U-17 title on Saturday in India after recovering from 2 goals to beat Spain 5-2 and they looked great value for their success.
They were positive, confident and technically as able as Spain, Brazil, France and Germany. They did not look like your average English side but then, it only shows that they are now really serious about fixing their football and placing themselves in a good place in terms of world football.
Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Rhian Brewster and Calum Hodson-Odoi are the embodiment of the good work done by the English FA on the technical side. But coming back from two goals down in a final also points to the mental toughness of the group.
Brewster, who was the tournament’s top scorer with 8 goals, said that his country’s football was “evolving”. I do believe that.
Maybe this is the cue we need to change things in Ghana.
Notable mentions to the Golden State Warriors and it is because of the 26 turnovers they committed against the Detroit Pistons leading to a home loss. Nice punishment. Coach Steve Kerr needs to get such nonsense out of the team. It is becoming annoying waking up at dawn and seeing such numbers.
Lewis Hamilton gets a mention too for capturing his fourth title. He fought hard to dislodge Sebastien Vettel and over the course of the season, he showed experience and alertness to see the chances and take them as the races came along.
Former Kotoko and Hearts goalie Soulama Abdoulaye also deserved a mention and even more. He passed on last Friday in Burkina Faso and he left us with good memories.
He was a main stay of the Kotoko for about seven years and I do not remember when he did not give his all. He led from his between the sticks and he was loved and admired.
He gave Hearts of Oak a few good seasons too and it was very pleasant seeing him play for his country.
May he rest in peace.
That’s it folks.
Catch you nest week. Hit me up on Twitter @nathan_quao