The much awaited May 9 disaster anniversary match involving Accra Hearts of Oak and archrivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko on Saturday at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra was called off under bizarre circumstances.
The charity match, expected to wrap up activities to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the ‘darkest day’ in Ghana football failed to see the light of day at the eleventh hour.
Hearts of Oak, who presented a team, made up Management members, retired and ex-players as well as Black Queens goalie Memunatu Sulemana ‘pulled out’ on the verge of kick off.
The ‘pull out’ was in protest against the backdrop that Asante Kotoko had paraded their regular squad, contrary to the terms of the organizers of the match.
The Hearts squad included Abukari Damba – the Club’s Goalkeepers trainer, Eben Dida, Charles Allotey, Mohammed Polo (all former footballers), Paul Addo, Patrick Madjitey (former management member),Thomas Quarshie, Tony Allotey (coach of Auroras), Albert Commey (Public Relations Officer) with Rahman Alhassan and Memunatu as the only substitute players.
Asante Kotoko on the other hand paraded Soulama Abdoulaye, Louis Quainoo, Gershon Akuffo, Henry Ohene Brenya, Ofosu Appiah, Yeboah Afriyie, Albert Bruce, Samad Oppong, Reagan Obeng, Stephen Oduro and Edward Affum with likes of Omar Gariba, Paul Asare, Haruna Ganiyu, David Offei, Alhassan Mohamed, Kwame Boateng and Rashid Seidu as the substitutes.
After the usual pre-match warm up, the Hearts team did not return to the field for the commencement of the game, whilst the match officials and the players of Asante Kotoko waited in vain on the pitch before they roped back into the dressing room.
According to a member of the Organising team, both teams were expected to feature some guest players made up either new players or ex-players, but strangely, Hearts had no single registered player in their set up.
The official expressed shock that while the organisers were discussing with Kotoko to include ex-stars, Malik Jabir and Opoku Nti in their squad, they were only to be told that the Hearts team had left the Stadium.
With the match called off, the countable crowd who had defied the morning downpour to throng the stadium were visibly disappointed and agitated for a refund of their moneys.
But for the swift intervention of security personnel, one of the ticket sellers would have nearly been lynched by the angry crowd, made up of a mixture of Hearts and Kotoko fans.
Attempts to get officials of the two clubs for reactions proved futile as they remained mute. Meanwhile, the Organising Committee headed by the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports was locked up in a meeting on the next line of action after the fiasco and shameful event.
The match at the behest of the Okudzeto Committee came off for the first time in 2010, with Kotoko winning by a lone goal. Earlier, President John Evans Atta Mills led a wreath laying ceremony in honour of the victims at the forecourt of the Ohene Djan Stadium.
One hundred and twenty-six (126) football fans lost their lives with scores injured as a result of a stampede during a Premier League match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko in 2001.
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