Accra Hearts of Oak’s charge for a first Ghana Premier League title in more than a decade might still be a dream, but there is reason to believe the club isn’t too far from achieving it.
They’ve looked like it at times this season, but — as has been the plague of many sides in the league — Hearts’ best efforts have been undermined by the sort of inconsistency that has robbed them of the opportunity to field their strongest XI for any considerable run of games.
That didn’t matter last Sunday against archrivals Asante Kotoko, though, with the team digging in deep to execute a game-plan that worked almost perfectly. Hearts could easily have won, but the point picked off Kotoko — the bookies’ favourites ahead of this ‘Super Clash’ — and the acccompanying performance surprised many.
Much of that excellence came against the formidable Kotoko midfield duo of Abdul Latif Anabila and Emmanuel Sarkodie that, only a week prior, had put in a great shift away to ES Setif in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Shining brightest for the Phobians in that space was Frederick Ansah Botchway, who appears to be enjoying a revival of sorts. Following his arrival at the club from Liberty Professionals last year, the silky midfielder was expected to bed in and provide competition for his new colleagues.
He soon cracked under the pressure, however, and found himself out of the team and in the bad books of the Hearts faithful. There were question marks over whether Botchway would be able to get to grips with the intensity and ferocity of first-team football at such a big club, following a lengthy spell without regular game-time.
What hasn’t been questionable is the 24-year-old’s pedigree, abundantly clear from his time at Liberty. An integral part of that team’s successes, Botchway stood out as one of the finest attacking midfielders in the league.
Being a midfielder, of course, requires flexibility — confidence in controlling games, but also the willingness and ability to play wherever needed in the middle of the park — and Botchway is certainly capable of that.
His defensive output may be a little on the lean side — and there is also the occasional tendency to jump into tackles rather unnecessarily — but Botchway’s positional intelligence helps him identify situations where he can make a difference, usually by arriving in the box with purpose.
Those were the traits that moved Hearts to prise him away from Dansoman in early 2020 and plug him straight into the heart of their own midfield. Botchway did blossom in that role at the start, before quickly wilting.
His latest display, though, seems to offer encouraging signs of a return to his best — and of great things to come.