NC Special Cup: How Kotoko and Hearts served a superb tactical semi-final
Kim Grant started with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation while CK surprisingly went with the 4-2-3-1
The first 10mins saw Kotoko press high up the pitch. Gyamfi and Boahen were hugging the touchline This forced the hearts players to go long anytime, the payers looked tensed and Kotoko utilised this to get the first goal
CK Akonnor's ambush with the 4-2-3-1, saw Aminu and Efutu step up to press Kotoko's two midfielders. This allowed Fatawu to receive in between the lines as a third midfielder which led to the goal.
Press vs 4-4-2
Press vs 4-2-3-1
Kotoko retreat after Safui's goal
Kotoko were no more interested in pressing, coiled into a deep block and allowed Hearts of Oak to finally settle into the game. Hearts' buildup in the first phase was smooth for obvious reasons (No pressing from Kotoko). Manaf and Efutu were able to receive and retain possession. However, Kotoko's compactness meant that there was little or no space to create through the central areas. Hearts looked like they were expecting to be pressed to play their way out and seem to lack ideas in the second phase of their buildup.
Again Kotoko enjoyed numerical superiority (5v3) in the last line as Amos Frimpong usually dropped in between the Kotoko centerbacks with their wingers tucking in to create a 5-3-2 defensive shape. Bonney and Dankyi hardly provided any width for Hearts.
Kim Grant's responds with a target man in the Second half.
Kim introduced Kofi Kordzie and tweaked to a 4-3-3 formation to increase the numbers in the last line. Kofi, Esso and Fatawu occupied the central areas allowing Bonney and Dankyi to provide the necessary width. Kofi's hold up play and aerial ability were utilised with long balls with Fatawu and Esso feeding off the second balls. Hearts front three stayed forward and remained central at all times. This proved an effective tool to create chances which eventually led to the equaliser.
In all it was a very good tactical battle between both coaches and perhaps the game would have been easier on the eye if Kotoko had been more proactive than reactive.
Match Summary: Kotoko beat Hearts on penalties to reach finals