Accra Hearts of Oak’s league glory has unearthed mysteries and wonders and equally brought unending joy to the followers in the past few days. The 2020/21 league title triumph has hushed some unfaithful fans who once did not want to associate with the club due to the long trophy drought.
The Phobians, after a bad start to the 2020/21 campaign, came off their blocks to claim their first ever and 21st league title in over a decade. Prior to the long wait for the current league title, Hearts of Oak had chalked enviable successes, winning the domestic double in 2000 and proceeding to rule Africa after beating Esperance 5-2 on aggregate to claim their maiden CAF Champions League title.
A follow up with the CAF Super Cup in 2001 following a 2-0 win over Egypt giants, Zamalek iced the cake for that season.
Fast forward to 2004, the millennium champions defied the turbulent moments once again to beat rivals, Asante Kotoko 8-7 on penalty shootouts at the Kumasi Baba Yara Stadium after the legs had ended 2-2 to win the maiden CAF Confederation Cup.
Hearts of Oak annexed the league title twice in 2006/07 and the 2007/08 seasons. The Rainbow club did not come close to the league title ever since their last in the 2009 season, and many attributed the dip in fortune to the take over of current Board Chairman, Togbe Afede XIV who bought highest stake in the club during the floatation of shares in 2011.
The club’s followers at a point called for the exit of Togbe Afede’s leadership during the worse times and even failed to attend club games.
The Co-Chairman of Africa World Airlines talks about the tough opposition he and the board encountered in the lead up to Hearts of Oak finally winning the league title.
“We have seen a lot of opposition, a lot of difficulties, which is most unfortunate; sometimes from people who wish they were in leadership which is unnecessary because we all have committed to the same objective.
“We have moved on until things came to a head in February when Coach [Costa] Papic resigned.
“When coach Papic resigned, he did so in front of the entire board, we tried to persuade him to stay on, he said he couldn’t because the playing body was divided against him. We said no stay, we will try to mend the crack. He said he had to leave. Tried as I did, Coach Papic decided to leave.
“Sadly, some people took advantage of it and try to give the impression that, we the board have made it difficult for coach Papic to do his work which was why he left.
“So we felt the worse revolt against this board that’s witnessed since we came.
“But thank God we survived, thanks to your [players] hardwork.” Togbe Afede XIV said when he met the players at his residence.
Hearts of Oak rewrote history for the first time in 2000 when they clinched the double in the 2020/21 football season.
The Phobians won the Ghana league title with 61 points, four better than Asante Kotoko and capped the season with the MTN FA Cup glory over AshantiGold at the Accra Sports Stadium in an 8-7 penalty shootouts.
Hearts of Oak will play in the 2021/22 CAF Champions League, the competition they won in 2000.