Many were those who thought with the arrival of experienced Malik Akowuah, a lot of the midielders of Accra Hearts of Oak might find themselves on the outside and ostracized at the club. Questions about whether the available midfielders could compete with the former Medeama enforcer were validly posed.
Truly, some of the midfielders could not compete thus falling off the pecking order and others loaned to other clubs. One, who, however passed the test has shown just why you can’t write him off is Leonard ‘The shield’ Tawiah. Since joining Hearts of Oak three years ago during the term of the late Hebert Addo, Tawiah has had difficulty in convincing the Hearts faithfuls of how good a footballer he is but not today.
He’s been enormous since Nuttal’s arrival, with his fighting spirit,energy and ferocity in midfield embodying his manager’s philosophy brilliantly. As ever, the combative midfielder is always seen setting the tone beautifully for his side by flying into tackles, pressing relentlessly and tracking back doggedly, as his physicality unsettles the opponents.
Contrary to popular belief and perception, he is actually a very intelligent footballer, which he demonstrates emphatically with his astute positioning and covering of his teammates. Moreover, in Hearts’ attacks, Tawiah uses his superb vision and concentration to pick up darting
movements of Kwame Kizito, Thomas Abbey and Patrick Razak whenever they ventured into his
designated area of operation. He never allows his opponents an easy passage to meander into the space surrounding him, and wreak havoc.
However, when they did obtain possession in close proximity to him,Tawiah pounces like a hungry lion to bring the pressure. Hearts’ lateral defenders must also be thankful to Tawiah,for he regularly shuttled over to cover for them when they motor forward ensuring they wouldn’t be caught off-guard. He efficiently mix his unquenchable appetite to work for his teammates with his ability to find space around the opponent’s attackers.
Using his spatial awareness, he craftily buzzes laterally on the pitch, always looking to present his centre-halves with an option in their attempts to pass out from the back.
Once in possession, ‘The Shield’ uses his under-appreciated passing ability to kickstart many of his team’s attacking forays, and assist in keeping hold of the ball.
He is rarely flustered under pressure. He has a languid unhurried style and is always willing and able to wait for extra seconds to find the right pass. He has made 15 appearances for the club this term in all competitions managing two assists and winning one MVP.
He may not be the Phobians’ most glamorous player, but his dedication and willingness to fight for his side have meant he has become an invaluable asset of Frank Nuttal’s new look side. In an attack- focused modern game, elite defensive midfielders are becoming increasingly hard to find. Hearts should be thankful they have one of the good ones and arguably the best in the local league.