Title winning teams usually come with that game changing team mate as seen in the Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Most title winning squads have that player that pops up when the team is sinking. Good news is that, not all of them are skilful. They are just title hungry or seeking for image redemption. Can we carve similar picture around this current Accra Hearts of Oak SC?
From a monopolized domestic champions to continental champions in 2000, Accra Hearts of Oak SC are chasing their first league crown since the 2008/09. The Phobians are enjoying an aroma of hope, belief, and a potential image redemption season. The euphoria around the Rainbow family is suddenly feeling their prime period.
The collective glory of the entire playing staff must be acknowledged if the current foetal wind of change is to be kept. The unique class of some individual stars must however be highlighted. From the goalkeeping all through to the multiple goal scorers, one will not far away from right if he mentions Manaf Umar Gumah as the wild card in the Phobian train.
Dubbed as a bit part player at the start of the season, Manaf Umar has since evolved into a backbone of the team. From his intelligence off the ball to prudent usage of the ball, Kosta Papic found that game changing player in his 27-year old wide man. As evidenced in his goal against Techiman Eleven Wonders FC, Manaf Umar can be a deadly finisher in the last third of the pitch. His confidence in the last third of the pitch has created goal scoring opportunities as seen in the 6-1 thrashing of Bechem United FC.
Technically, Kosta Papic deployed Manaf as a typical triqotista, an advanced attacking role used in Italian football. To contextualize the role of Manaf Umar, one has to Chronicle the role Paul Pogba played at Juventus with Vidal, Pirlo and Marchisio. He had the luxury of linking ball winners with ball users.
In the camp of Accra Hearts of Oak SC, Michelle Sarpong, Victor Aidoo, Emmanuel Nettey and Abdul Raman Lalawi have so far been helpful to the attacking prowess of Manaf Umar. His ability to provide width has so far left many teams flat footed under the current formation. He is the reason why Accra Hearts of Oak SC have recently varied their system from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3. If Accra Hearts Of Oak SC were to emerge winners, it might boil down to the consistency of Manaf Umar.
With 3 goals and 2 assists from 7 attempts, Manaf Umar wouldn’t need goals to power Accra Hearts of Oak SC to their first league crown since the 2008/09 season.