Hearts of Oak were crowned league champions for the first time after a decade after they were held at home by Liberty Professionals on Sunday.
The game which was played at the Accra Sports stadium was met with a raucous reception as fans of the Phobians filled the stadium to quarter capacity.
Hearts of Oak needed to at least match Kotoko’s results to be crowned league champions.
Samuel Boadu’s men didn’t play their usual flamboyant football but rather adopted a more efficient approach.
As a result, Liberty dominated proceedings in the early part of the game. However, Hearts created the better opportunities with Kwadwo Obeng Jnr coming close a couple of times.
On the stroke of half time, Salifu Ibrahim whipped an in-swinging which glanced off the head of Daniel Barnieh at the near post to give Hearts the lead
The Phobians strolled through the second half knowing Kotoko were losing at Bechem.
Liberty deservedly grabbed a late equaliser through Paul Kwame but that didn’t disrupt the party at full time as Hearts were crowned champions.
Hearts end title drought
It’s been a long wait for Hearts of Oak. The last time they won the league title was in the 2008/09 season.
The Phobians finished three points ahead of Kotoko that season.
Since then, Hearts fans have had to endure not just their team not winning the league, but also watching their bitter rivals Asante Kotoko win it three times in a row.
Wildcard teams such as Aduana Stars, Berekum Chelsea and Wa All Stars have all taken turns in lifting the Ghana Premier League trophy.
During Hearts’ drought, they’ve finished third on five different occasions but never ended up in the top two.
This season has been their best statistically. Hearts of Oak were guaranteed a top two finish even with three games left to play.
The Accra-based club have 61 points currently, which is the most they’ve accrued in ttle last 12 years.
Samuel Boadu gamble pays off
Changing coaches halfway through the season can prove to be a detrimental move especially when a team is struggling.
Hearts of Oak had lost identity and lacked direction deep into the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season.
Kosta Papic who helped the team win the league in 2009 was brought in to replace a struggling Nii Odoom.
Papic enjoyed a good start, but results and team spirit dwindled drastically as the Serbian coach left for the shores of South Africa.
Hearts of Oak took a gamble and brought in Samuel Boadu who was coach of Medeama. In his first press conference, he admitted coaching Hearts of Oak was his dream
He made an instant impact along his new signing Salifu Ibrahim.
Hearts of Oak made up the ground in the second round as they looked unbeatable.
Boadu’s men are currently on an 11-game unbeaten run with the former Medeama coach picking up the most points in the second round.
He’s lost just two games in 16 and Hearts have reaped the benefit of their risk halfway through the season.
When the final whistle was blown in the game against Liberty, Boadu was repeatedly thrown into the air by the players. Boadu then walked towards each of his technical men to give them a hug.
The future looks full of possibilities for the Phobians who have laid a good foundation for Boadu to work with.