The race for the improved GH¢500,000 cash prize for the winner of the 2023/24 betPawa Premier League begins today with a Real Tamale United (RTU) test for a revived Accra Hearts of Oak side at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium.
The two and other 16 clubs will jostle each other for the points to win the competition to alsosecure the sole slot to represent Ghana in the CAF Champions League competition next year.
For Hearts, it will mark the beginning of the hunt for a 22nd title glory as they also set out to avenge a painful defeat suffered in the hands of their host in Accra last season.
After making a return to the topflight in the 2021/22 season, RTU have become a torn in the flesh of the Phobian family.
In that season, they drew 0-0 with the Phobians at home and whitewashedthem 4-1 at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Last season, RTU continued with their new form over the Phobians, doing a double over them as both struggled for survival.
First, it was a 1-0 defeat at home in their week 16 clash through a stunning striker from a former protege of the Phobians, Manaf Umar.
As if that was not enough, Umar returned to his favourite Accra Sports Stadium in the return leg and nailed the winner in a 2-1 victory over Hearts to escaped relegation.
Umar has left the club to join Nsoatreman FC and that would come as a relief to the Rainbow boys.
Former Asante Kotoko striker, Alhassan Abdullai Shilla, has joined the technical staff of RTU as the Team Manager, and will be offering support to Coach Abdullai A. Mumin and his assistant, Alhassan Iddi Manzah, to make sure they see off Hearts of Oak.
For the visitors under new Head Coach, Martin Koopman, and today’s clash would indicate whether their impressive unbeaten record in eight pre-season games was a fluke.
Hearts arrived in Tamale on Tuesday evening, three clear days to the game to acclimatise, a futther testament of the desire to unseat Medeama.
If the off season form of Hearts of Oak is anything to go by, then the northern giants would be in a hell of a match today.
Hearts’ city rivals, Accra Great Olympics, will take on returnes,Bofoakwa Tano, at the Accra Sports Stadium tomorrow in another dicey encounter.
The action would continue on Sunday as Asante Kotoko lock horns with another returnees, Kpando Heart of Lions, Karela United will host Legon Cities at the El-Wak Stadium, Nsoatreman FC will host Bechem United at the Nana Koramansah Sports Complex in Nsoatre in the first Bono derby of the new season.
Other games will have Samartex FC whichwill travel to the Nsenkyire Sports Complex to face Aduana Stars with Berekum Chelsea and Bibiani Gold Stars battling it out at the Golden City Park.
Due to their continental campaigns, Medeama SC will host Accra Lions at the Akoon Park on Wednesday September 20, while Dreams FC take on Nations FC at the Theatre of Dreams in Dawu on the same day.
BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY
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