Despite the lockdown and general fear and anxiety being experienced in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much fun and laughter as three legends of the local game came on set on GTV Sports last Sunday to relive the maiden CAF Confederation Cup final game in 2004 involving arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
‘Time with the captains’ on GTV Sports + was hosted by internationally renowned commentator Benjamin Willie Graham.
In the studio, the talented Charles Taylor was flanked on the right by former Hearts captain Amankwah Mireku and to his left by former Hearts/Kotoko goalkeeper Saanie Mohammed.
It will be recalled that Hearts of Oak snatched victory over their rivals with a 8:7 penalty shoot-out victory after the cup final had ended 2:2 in regulation time over two legs in Kumasi.
The two sides could not be separated after the first leg ended 1:1 in Accra while the return leg ended with a similar scoreline.
Back then, the game split the nation into two as the two most glamorous local sides fought for the giant trophy at stake and the bragging rights.
Hearts had won the CAF Champions League trophy in 2000 but lost one of their most talented players in winger Charles Taylor who crossed carpets to Kotoko in one of the most controversial and long running football transfer’s in the history of the local game.
On the one hand, the hearts players who obviously knew about Taylor’s prowess were not willing to give him an inch while Taylor also wanted to reward the porcupine warriors for their show of faith.
It set up a crunch encounter. Despite being tightly marked by the Hearts defense, Taylor did manage to score in the 51th minute before Hearts equalized through Adja Tetteh in the 80th minute.
But in one of the most controversial decisions in the second leg, Kotoko coach Hans Dieter Schmidt substituted danger man Charles Taylor in the 78th minute for Edmund Owusu Ansah, to the shock and annoyance of the Kotoko team, and to the relief of Hearts whose top defender Dan Quaye drew the sign of the cross in the full glare of the cameras.
Significantly, Hearts turned the tide and equalized two minutes after Taylor’s substitution.
Commenting on the controversial substitution in the studio, Charles Taylor claimed that Kotoko coach Hans said he did not know why he took him (Taylor) from the game when asked about the decision.
Taylor then claimed that Hearts’ defender Dan Quaye told him afterwards that they had used black magic, juju, to get Hans to make that strange decision.
There was much laughter in the studio with the Hearts pair of Amankwah Mireku and Saanie Mohammed laughing hilariously to that suggestion.
When Mireku objected to the assertion by the former Kotoko danger man, Taylor insisted that that was exactly what Quaye told him!
Taylor drew more laughter when he asserted that the juju worked on Hans because the German coach liked to eat local dishes particularly ‘ab3nkwan’ (palmnut soup) with fufu (pounded cassava). He recalled that on a trip to play Obuasi to play regional rivals Ashantigold FC, Schmidt ate almost every local dish that was available in a local restaurant.
Meanwhile, former Hearts skipper Amankwah Mireku received a lot of praise from viewers who posted comments on Facebook. His excellent leadership qualities were on full display, coupled with his technique and surging runs.
The three players also shared memories about their late coach Sir Cecil Jones Attuquefio who many regard as the best Hearts coach of all time. Mireku said Jones always knew what to say and when to say it to inspire his team.
Saanie Mohammed, who is now a Police Corporal, agreed with that comment, adding that Jones had tried to calm him down before the game knowing he did not have prior match experience in such encounters.
‘Time with the Captains’ was hosted by GTV Sports + internationally renowned commentator Benjamin Willie Graham.