Hearts of Oak: Surviving Djoliba without Robin Gnagne

Accra Hearts of OakChristopher Agbettor

Whenever Hearts of Oak are playing a competitive match and Robin Gnagne is in the squad, trust him to bring stability to the defence by consciously and constantly clearing the lines.

He is a good leader, organiser and initiator of onslaught.

Since joining the Phobians in 2012, the Ivorian import has been instrumental in nearly all the team’s victories. His lofty and workaholic attitude earned him admiration from supporters and the technical staff, who did not hesitate to appoint him as captain this year.

Gnagne has been brilliant with Hearts in the ongoing Caf Confederation Cup, taking charge of most of the kicks including penalties. His deft command of aerial balls and ability to read games now make him one of the best central defenders in Ghana’s topflight.

However, with his side on the verge of breaking into the group stage of the continental competition, the 24-year-old is set to miss the round of eight return leg against Malian representatives Djoliba due to card accumulation.

The absence of the sturdy centre-back seems a blow for coach Herbert Addo, considering the player’s skills and commitment at the back.

Gnagne’s back-half partner Philip Boampong would have to work extra hard to ensure that whoever the coach picks as replacement would allow the same level of cohesion to ensure that the Accra-based outfit don’t meet with disaster come Sunday May 3.

After snatching a 2-1 away win in the first leg, Hearts are favoured to carry off the reverse fixture at the Accra Sports stadium. However, the unavailability of Gnagne remains a cause for concern.

Former Heart of Lions guardsman Kweku Andoh, and Vincent Atingah could step into the shoes of the Ivorian but the question is would they be up to snuff? Both are good defenders and prospects for the club, but are yet to prove they could be reliable substitutes.

In the absence of skipper Gnagne, goalkeeper Suleiman needs to take the mantle and steer the back four and the midfielders like he has previously attempted with dexterity.

Reaching the money zone would not only be rewarding to the players and coach of Hearts, for their hard labour, but also to the management, which has invested huge funds in their continental campaign.

Source: Goal.com

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