TEAM NEWS: Robin Gnagne (groin), Richard Yamoah (knee), and Patrick Razak (knee and ankle) have resumed full training having recovered from their respective injuries.
Malik Akowuah (ankle) and Inusah Musah (foot) have been ruled out due to their injuries.
MATCH PREVIEW: Accra Hearts of Oak will host Elmina Sharks in the match-day 12 of the 2016/17 Ghana Premier League at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, 16th April, 2017.
The Phobians are seeking to record three successive victories for the first time in the new season and they will be hoping to get their fifth straight home win on Sunday having beaten Wa AllStars, Great Olympics, Kotoko and Bechem United.
Team Hearts have slowly found their rhythm in the new campaign after struggling in the early part of the season. Coach Frank Nuttall and his players have recorded three victories from their last four games and they will be expected to continue the momentum as Sharks visit the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Hearts, unlike last season where they struggled at home, have been brilliant at the Accra Sports Stadium this season picking up 13 points out of a possible 15. After a goalless draw game with Medeama in match-day 2, the Phobians have beaten Wa AllStars (2-1), Accra Great Olympics (2-1), Kotoko (1-0), and Bechem United (4-2) at the Accra Sports Stadium.
The victory over Kotoko was the sweetest but the 4-2 win over Bechem remains the most swashbuckling Hearts performance of the season. Hearts raced into a three-goal lead just before the break against the defending FA Cup Champions in the last home game. Thomas Abbey scored as early as the second minute before Richard Akrofi headed home the second just after the half-hour mark and Right-back-turned-winger Fatawu Mohammed made it three with a spectacular individual goal. All the three goals were created by Winful Cobbinah, who was playing his first game at the Accra Sports Stadium since the final day of the 2013/14 league season.
However, Team Hearts took their foot off the gas in the second half allowing Bechem to find a stranglehold on the game before Cosmos Dauda cooled nerves with his first goal of the season to make it 4-2 in the favor of the home team.
The only blip to that wonderful performance against Bechem was the injury of Malik Akowuah. Hearts’ deep-lying-playmaker picked up an ankle injury in the game and he would be sidelined for the first round. But in his absence, the role has fallen on Samudeen Ibrahim, who excited in bits in the 1-0 win over Ashgold at Obuasi last Saturday.
Defensively, Hearts are without indefatigable defender Inusah Musah but Richard Akrofi, who has played in his stead, has been brilliant since his introduction in the Kotoko game. The former Wa AllStars defender has dovetailed with Vincent Atingah at the heart of the Hearts defense and they were at their solid best as they helped the team to a clean-sheet in Obuasi in the last match.
Elmina Sharks have not been overwhelmed at all despite playing in their first season in the topflight. The Elmina-based side have won 3, drawn 5, and lost 3 out of their first 11 fixtures in the Ghana Premier League. Coach Joseph Amissah’s side have beaten Ashgold (1-0), Berekum Chelsea (2-1), and Tema Youth (1-0) at home. They are yet to win on the road but they have picked up points in Wa (1-1 AllStars), Accra (2-2 Olympics), and in Tamale (1-1 Bolga Stars).
Sharks’ most impressive away performance came at the Accra Sports Stadium where they came from two goals down to earn a massive point against Great Olympics.
Sharks will not be pushovers on Sunday but coach Nuttall’s side will not like to drop points at home having rediscovered their form in the new campaign.
MATCH FACTS: The two sides have met three times in the FA Cup and the Elite Cup competition but this will be their first ever meeting in the league.
Hearts have won on all the three previous occasions. The Phobians beat Sharks 4-0 in the FA Cup in the 2011/12 season, 1-0 in the 2014/15 season; and 3-0 in the Elite Cup Competition.
2011/12 HEARTS 4 – 1 ELMINA SHARKS FA CUP
(Godwin Osei Bonsu, Ashitey Ollenu, Mahatma Otoo, Uriah Asante)
2014/15 HEARTS 1 – 0 ELMINA SHARKS FA CUP
(Isaac Oduro (pen.))
2014/15 HEARTS 3 – 0 ELMINA SHARKS ELITE CUP
(Gerald Odupong, Ashitey Ollenu, Kwame Kizito)