Hearts of Oak have in their current squad former TP Mazember football icon Rainford Kalaba in Dr. Congo International Linda Mtange.
Rainford ‘master’ Kalaba is arguably one of the overall best African players to play in CAF inter club football in history. GOAL outlet has already rated him as one of the top 12 greatest African players to lift the CAF Champions League and played a crucial role in Zambia’s glory in 2012 AFCON.
Among most historic players to win the African Champions League or to be regarded as all time greatest of the competition are former Cameroon forward Roger Miller, Asante Kotoko attacker Opoku Nti, Zamalek forward Emmanuel Amunike, Wydad Casablanca center-back Noureddine Naybet, Al Ahly superstar Bibo El Khatib (now team President) and Canon Yaounde shot-stopper Thomas N’Kono, many with exception of Opoku Nti and Roger Miller whom also appeared on the GOAL top 12 greatest winners list.
In the modern era, the likes of former Enyimba goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, Al Ahly’s duo Mohamed Aboukrika and Essam El-Hadary, Zamalek’s Amir Zaki, Hearts of Oak’ Emmanuel Osei Kuffour and Charles Taylor, Asante Kotoko duo Jordan Opoku and Eric Bekoe who clinched the 2008 CAF Confederation Cup top scorer award with 10 goals are arguably the greatest names in African club football.
Not them alone, with TP Mazembe’s dominance between 2009-2017 one of the greatest achievements for a CAF club, Robert Kidiaba and Rainford Kalaba have been put in same bracket with the names listed above.
TP Mazembe has lifted a total 5 CAF Champions League titles, 2 CAF Super Cups and 2 Confederation Cups between 2009 and 2017. Kalaba joined TP Mazembe in 2011 and quickly attached himself to the glories with the Zambian himself winning the CAF Champions League in 2015, the CAF Super Cup in 2011 and 2016, the CAF Confederation Cup in 2016 and 2017 and played in the FIFA Club World Cup final losing 3-0 to European champions Inter Milan.
Due to his understanding of the midfield attacking duties, Kalaba, 20, has always been labeled master of his role and few players on the African continent is likened to the Zambian International.
With evidences in the Ghana Premier League this season, Hearts of Oak midfield Linda Mtange is one of the the closest look alike of Rainford Kalaba in terms of style of play.
Mtange joined the Ghana Premier League side at the beginning of the season not only shinning in the Ghanaian top flight but also been compared with one of CAF inter club football greats.
Kalaba made his Zambian senior national team debut in 2005 and grabbed 15 international goals before winning the AFCON in 2012.
Mtange could draw inspiration from comparison with the former TP Mazembe superstar midfielder. Mtange has arguably been Hearts of Oak best performer this season so far limiting the availability and use of Black Galaxies captain Gladson Awako.
The Dr. Congo International touch of the ball, ball progression, antics, dazzling and final ball abilities draw out nearly almost Kalaba qualities. At times when Mtange is in the Hearts shirt, many fans thought Kalaba is now playing for the Ghanaian giants.
Mtange is the main reason why Hearts of Oak is third place on the Ghana Premier League log involving in almost all Hearts attacks in recent matches. The stats that would have guided argument of Mtange’s efficiency properly is lacking but the Dr. Congo man has been the most influential Phobia player this term.
Kalaba-Mtange type has been missing in the Hearts setup for while especially since the retirement of former stars Obed Ansah and Emmanuel Osei Kuffour but the Dr. Congo midfielder has bring back that sweet smell.
His ball reading abilities and comfortability on the ball makes it challenging for Ghana Premier League midfielders and possess goal-scoring capabilities crucial for Hearts going forward, a weapon Kalaba used to pushed TP Mazembe forward when the going gets tough. .
The former GPL champions are fighting with Aduana Stars to win the league after two years in attempt to enter into the CAF Champions League next season. Undoubtedly, Mtange’s presence has been key to this local aganda and will be essential in the continental one.
However, Hearts of Oak face competition to keep their own midfielder after TP Mazembe reportedly planning to lure Linda Mtange to his country at the end of the season.
Ghana Premier League rivals Asante Kotoko are also monitoring Mtange who is not ready to leave Hearts of Oak soon, according to reports.