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Yaw Preko: Great Olympics exploited Hearts of Oak's weaknesses

BY: Bernard Neequaye
Great Olympics players celebrating their victory with the technical team
Great Olympics players celebrating their victory with the technical team

Great Olympics caretaker coach, Yaw Preko, says his side went into their Ghana Premier League clash with city rivals Hearts of Oak with a plan to hit the Phobians in the opening minutes and then control the rest of the match.

Preko, who masterminded Olympics' 2-0 win over Hearts last Saturday, explained that his tactical plan to exploit their opponents' weak points by playing three defenders and stopping the Phobians' lateral defenders, worked to perfection.

For Hearts coach Kosta Papic, the Wonder Club deserved the win after their impressive display, but he wanted his players to put the defeat behind them and refocus on their upcoming match against Medeama on Wednesday.

A former player and one-time coach of Hearts, Preko told the media at a post-match conference that the initial game plan was to be switching tactics but later decided to stick to his tactics after the first half when they realised it had worked for Olympics.

“We had a game plan for them and it worked,” Coach Preko said. “The plan was to hit them in the first two goals and then we decided to control the rest of the game and reserve our energy.

“I watched some of their games and I realised they are more compact in the middle and so the technical team decided to resort to a three-back system to stop their lateral defenders.

“So we decided to be switching along the line so after it worked in the first half we decided to stick to that,” he added.

Olympics earned the bragging rights when Gladson Awako’s free-kick in the 14th minute and Maxwell Quaye’s superb volley three minutes later secured them the much-needed win over sworn rivals Hearts -- it was the 'Dade' boys' first league win over Hearts in a decade.

In an expected tough encounter, both sides came into the game prepared to earn something but it was Olympics who took the first bite when Awako netted a free-kick from the edge of the box. The free-kick was awarded to Olympics after referee Charles Bulu adjudged Hearts’ Nuru Sulley to have held the shirt of striker Maxwell Quaye.

Three minutes later, Samuel Quaye set up his elder brother for Olympics’ second goal after his cross was volleyed in by Maxwell from about 20 metres, beating the outstretched hand of Hearts' goalie Richmond Ayi.

Hearts' had numerous opportunities to score and comeback into the game but failed to bury their chances, with forwards Patrick Razak, Manaf Umar and Victor Aidoo, among others, coming close to scoring but they either wasted their chances or were denied a goal  by the woodwork.

Razak’s chance was on the 46th minute when his shot from close range hit the post. Hearts best chance of the game came in the 57th minute when Victor Aidoo’s fine header was parried by Olympics’ goalie Saed Salifu to deny the Phobians what could have been a fine opportunity to come into the game.

The Phobians continued pressuring for a goal and on the 68th minute, Congolese defender, Raddy Ovouka, was fouled in the box but referee Bulu overlooked it.

Olympics, on the other hand, could have gone 3-0 up if Maxwell Quaye had netted his second when his lob went over the goal post after 75 minutes.

The Wonder Club’s defence proved too strong for the Phobians to force a precious victory over their archrivals ahead of Wednesday’s home game against King Faisal in Accra.

Hearts' Serbian trainer Papic attributed the loss to his team’s lack of concentration in the opening 20 minutes which cost them a point in the Ga Mashie derby.

Speaking in a post-match interview, Papic described Olympics as one of the best teams in the league and said his side must work harder in order to return with a victory in their away match with Medeama on Wednesday.

Papic noted that the team’s reaction to their defeat would be crucial in handling bad moments in their campaign.

“Definitely, we were stunned by those two goals in the first half,” he said. “They were unexpected goals and we paid for our lack of concentration during that period.

“Football is like that and you always have to be prepared for circumstances like this. We tried our best to comeback stronger but that didn’t work so we have to keep going,” he added.

The Hearts-Olympics game lived up to expectation in terms of spectating with over 10,000 supporters thronging the Accra Stadium to watch the capital derby.

Papic decided to start last season’s sensation, Emmanuel Nettey, who was making an injury return for the first time, but his choice failed after his choice struggled with fitness throughout the game.

However, the Serbian gaffer defended his choice of starting Nettey stating that the Nettey had been training with the team for the last two weeks.

“He deserved to play because he has been training well for two weeks.

“He is a good player and I gave him the chance to play and we lost,” Papic said.