The Samuel Boadu era is well and truly underway at Accra Hearts of Oak, isn’t it?
In just three months, the 35-year-old has his fingerprints all over the team, elevating Hearts with his special brand of football to the summit of the Ghana Premier League table.
The sight of an excited Boadu passionately pumping his fists on the touchline has become, for Hearts fans, a familiar and heartwarming feature of the team’s ongoing run of great form.
The Phobians, on Sunday, made it five wins (and five clean sheets) from as many league games, after coasting to a 2-0 victory over Berekum Chelsea at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Five games. Five wins. Five clean sheets.
How apt, given it has taken Hearts all of five years to get back on top of the league. And here’s the bad news for everyone, especially their title rivals: it’s looking increasingly like they’re there to stay.
Hearts are currently playing their best football in years, dominating and making light work of opponents. Under Boadu, Hearts’ organisation is their biggest strength, a claim that couldn’t have been made a year (or even five) ago.
Emmanuel Nettey has been an absolute rock at the base of midfield and, more than just shielding the back-four, his tidiness allows fellow midfielders Benjamin Afutu and Ibrahim Salifu to freely join Hearts’ offence when the team is on the break.
The attacking trio of Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Kojo Obeng Jnr and Isaac Mensah has been fluid, too, operating with a level of mobility that often opens up gaps behind opposition defences.
All that, coupled with the fact that Hearts’ full-backs — Fatawu Mohammed and Raddy Ovouka — are integral to almost every attacking move, highlights just how well-drilled and organised the team has become.
Hearts’ second goal against Chelsea on Sunday, scored by Obeng Jnr, typified the transformation they have undergone since Boadu’s appointment: patient build-up, slick passing, aerodynamic movement and ruthless finishing.
‘Boadu-ball’ is definitely in full flow, and Hearts finally appear to have found the balance that they’ve lacked in the recent past, reaping the results it inevitably yields — and they seek more.
“Match after match, we are doing our own thing. We are not competing with anyone. This one is gone and we’re now preparing towards the next match,” Boadu said, following the aforementioned win.
Latter-day Hearts have often self-destructed when in a position to challenge for the title but their latest push for glory seems anchored in so much more stability.
Reinforced with some shrewd signings in the mid-season window and Boadu, a trainer who knows a thing or two about building a title-chasing team (having embarked on such a project with former employers Medeama), Hearts look firmly grounded and well-placed to end their lengthy trophy drought.
They’ve certainly raised the bar for the rest of the league and, while it remains to be seen just how long they can maintain those standards and keep themselves ahead of the chasing pack, Boadu’s charges aren’t doing much wrong at the moment.
Emmanuel Ayamga — Ink & Kicks