Hearts of Oak were battered in Sogakope by academy side WAFA in the second game of the second round of the league. A 5-0 drabbing asked more questions about the title credentials of the Phobians and their preferred 4-4-1-1 formation of Scottish Frank Nuttall despite a 7 game unbeaten run.
Three games after that defeat and the Phobians have an unblemished record of 3 wins, 7 goals scored and none conceded.
Motivation to do better after the defeat could be a factor, payment of outstanding salaries could have influenced results but on the pitch, the Scottish trainer re-shaped his side and deployed a 3 back system which has paid dividends so far.
This good turn is quite similar to Antonio Conte’s switch which led Chelsea to Premier League glory. After a 3-0 humbling by Arsenal at the Emirates, the Italian switched to a 3-4-3 (3-4-2-1) formation and the rest was an unrivaled success for the Blues.
And the Scottish trainer was pleased with his side’s application after their win against Elmina Sharks.
“It was always going to be a very difficult game because Elmina Sharks are trying really very hard to stay in the league. But I thought we had the mental focus and the quality to make sure we won the game.”
Returning Ivorian, Robin Gnagne, started against WAFA and was exposed often by the youngsters but has formed the core of the new system alongside Richard Akrofi and Vincent Atingah in defence.
Fatawu Mohammed and Ghandy Kassenu have provided the width and hard running as full backs while Malik Akowuah and Leonard Tawiah control affairs in midfield.
Kwame Kizito has led the line effectively for the Phonians scoring 3 league goals in 2 appearances since the switch with Patrick Razak and Thomas Abbey providing the support.
The positive for the Phobians and Nuttall is their ability to win these games without their main man and playmaker Winful Cobbinah who has weighed in with six assists this season.
Nuttall is a firm believer in the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And has hinted at continuing with the system ahead of Ashantigold’s visit.
“They did very well today [against Sharks] and maybe we will stay with that [formation] for the next game,” he concluded.
Nuttall On performance of his back-three: “They did very well and maybe we will stay with that [formation] for the next game.” pic.twitter.com/6SzUx2bptD
— Accra Hearts Of Oak (@HeartsOfOakGH) June 26, 2017
If there is any team of asking questions about this new Hearts setup, it will be Akonnor’s Ashantigold who are unbeaten in their last 6 games and on a 3 game winning streak. That should make for a good game between both sides in Accra this midweek.
Can the Phobians replicate the Chelsea story and win the title after a change in formation on the back of a heavy defeat? 10 matchdays to go and we will be answered…