Bashir Hayford led the comeback assault on Liberty Professionals, WAFA are on a four-game losing streak, Kotoko and Hearts slumped to defeats after impressing in mid-week and Karela compounds Wa All Stars’ troubles. Here are 10 observations from match week seven of the Ghana Premier League.
WAFA in dire need of inspiration
Startlingly, WAFA find themselves in a precarious situation for the first time in a long time. Football is unpredictable but the current happenings at WAFA are a little bit strange and unforeseen. Nobody thought they would go on a four-game losing streak including a capitulation in Sogakokpe after going ahead against Medeama. WAFA, without a shred of doubt, are struggling with regards to confidence and inspiration. Without these two important ingredients in football, even the very best teams in the world struggle. The Sogakokpe-based club don’t play with the verve they are accustomed to. They don’t blow teams away and impress especially away from home since their excellent win at the Carl Reindorf Stadium. The situation is getting out of hands and requires drastic and immediate attention. Coach Klaus Rasmussen needs to dig deeper into his coaching prowess and find something that will spark and spur his boys on. The problems of WAFA is a combination of tactical ineptness which has dwarfed the confidence of the academy boys. The inspiration they badly need must come directly from the coach. If he is unable to build the confidence of these young boys and inspire them to get their backs off the wall, then, he has no reason to be leading WAFA in the 2018 campaign.
Away teams would have to figure out how to win games.
It has been a familiar trend in the GPL when it comes to away team performances. More defeats on the road every week than wins. Since week one, we have recorded only six away wins. Ashanti Gold beat Hearts 3-1 and WAFA beat Liberty 3-1 in week two, Hearts of Oak beat Dwarfs 2-0 in week three, Liberty beat Eleven Wonders 2-0 in week five, Medeama beat WAFA 2-0 and of course, Elmina Sharks beat Heats 2-1 in week seven. For the league to be more exciting, there ought to be more surprising away wins. Away teams must set up to win (not saying they don’t). Maybe, they aren’t doing enough to win a point or three away. Teams like Kotoko and WAFA have lost all their last three away matches. Inter Allies and Wa All Stars have yet to pick a point on the road. Something has got to change and it must now.
Medeama SC shaping up nicely.
Medeama SC’s superb form in the premier league is no fluke. Since losing 2-0 at the Nana Fosu Gyeabour Park in Bechem, the Mauves and Yellows have been terrific to say the least. Before the game against Inter Allies, they had gone three-game unbeaten, winning two. 1-0 at home versus Kumasi Asante Kotoko and 2-1 away versus WAFA ending Sogakokpe-based club’s 46 games unbeaten record at home. Coach Samuel Boadu has been able to get the very best out of his players and his game plan is spot on since their defeat in Bechem. Against Kenichi Yatsuhashi’s Inter Allies, they exhibited their ability to grind results. When Captain Joseph Tetteh Zutah put them ahead in the 16th minute, the Capelli Boys fought gallantly and pressed Medeama for an equalizer but the home side stood firm to ward off any threat. Now same points as leaders Ashanti Gold with a game in hand against Aduana Stars, it looks very promising for Medeama SC. With a defeat in last seven games (W4 D2 L1) and a defeat in last nine home games (W6, D2 L1), it is all coming together nicely for Medeama SC and they are one of the clubs to genuinely have a go at the title.
Heats blow hot and cold
The Phobians suffered their second home defeat and third defeat of the opening seven games of the season. Coach Wellington and his charges have subjected the fans of Accra Hearts of Oak to an emotional rollercoaster. It is not the defeats which hurt the supporters of the club, it is how they get beaten. The 1-3 home defeat to Ashanti Gold, the 3-0 at the Golden City Park and the 1-2 at home to the Sharks. They all have one characteristic; cluelessness. The coach of the side came under immense pressure after the defeat to Chelsea for getting his team selection and tactics wrong but he made amends against Wa All Stars in midweek with an awesome performance especially in the first half. For many Phobians, it was the beginning of something special to come only to be given a big reality check against Elmina Sharks at home. For a team, that had arguably their best performance at half time in midweek to go down 0-2 at halftime, was very surprising. Hearts began the game disorganised, dispirited and uninterested to say the least, and deserved, found themselves two down within 40 minutes via Felix Addo and Captain Obeng Crentsil in the 25th and 40th minutes respectively. That was enough for the visitors and any reaction from Coach Wellington was too late. Blowing hot and cold for a club with the stature of Accra Hearts of Oak is completely unacceptable irrespective of their form.
Sharks show incredible character
For any team to go past any challenge in front of them, it must exhibit character. Fearlessness, discipline, physical and mental strengths. These are the four attributes Elmina Sharks have exhibited in their opening six games (they have one outstanding game vs. Chelsea Week 3). After their 1-0 defeat in week one vs. Dreams FC, the Sharks are on a five-game unbeaten run 0-0 with Aduana, 2-0 vs. WAFA SC, 1-1 vs. Wa All Stars, 1-0 vs. Inter Allies and 1-2 vs. Accra Hearts of Oak. In all of these games, they fought and competed for everything and duly got rewarded for. Their strengths in almost all aspects of the game have seen them climb to third on the league table grabbing 11 points, scored six and conceded three with a game in hand. It is nothing short of an excellent start to the new season and if they can keep it up and switch to the next gear, they would be a real force.
Kenichi Yastuhashi must work on Inter Allies’ dreadful away record.
It has been an up and down motion for the Eleven Is To One club since the commencement of the 2018 season. The trajectory is not what the Tema-based club hoped for at the beginning of the season especially, in their away fixtures. They have lost all their four games on the road; 1-0 vs. Kotoko, 6-0 vs. Aduana Stars, 1-0 vs. Elmina Sharks and 1-0 vs. Medeama SC. The damning bit about the Capelli Boys is, they have yet to hit the back of the net away from home shipping in nine. Inter Allies are winless in their last 20 away games in the premier league (D9 L10), managing only one clean sheet on the road in their last nine. It is dreadful, isn’t it? Mr Yatsuhashi must find an antidote to this terrible record on the road and must find it now.
Issah Yakubu is the real deal
Defenders, just as midfielders and forwards are very crucial to the success of any football club across the globe. In football, they say “Strikers win games, defenders win championships”. For a striker’s goal to make a difference, it requires defenders to shut the shop up and throw the keys away. Issah Yakubu was the man who made a big difference against Kumasi Asante Kotoko just for his calmness, awareness to potential threats and willingness to put his body on the line. The backline of Dreams FC did a great job to neutralise Kotoko’s attack from first to the 90th minute. The likes of goalkeeper Isaac Amoako, Montari Kamaheni, Maxwell Arthur did great but one man who stood out was Issah Yakubu. He made sure Obed Owusu wouldn’t get a sniff at goal and became even better when Kotoko pressed for a winner by introducing Mawuli Osei to replace Emmanuel Gyamfi who had ran out of steam. Issah Yakubu organised his defence very well and proved that he can lead from the back. George Dwubeng may have scored the all-important 89th goal which handed Kotoko’s third away defeat on the bounce, but, Issah Yakubu’s contribution at the back, marshalling his teammates and putting the brakes on the Kotoko attack equally made a huge difference to securing the win at the Theatre of Dreams in Dawu.
Wa All Stars going down real quick!
When a team fires a nonperforming coach and brings in a new one, the mood of the club is kind of lifted with positive expectations and vibes going into the subsequent fixtures. For Wa All Stars, it is more of the same under new coach Sarfo Castro or worse than it was under Alhaji Mumuni Sokpori. With one draw and two defeats under the new coach, it is definitely not the start to a career envisaged by those running the club, players and fans alike. Rock bottom on the leaderboard with five points from possible 21, scoring three and shipped in seven in the process, is just terrible return from a former champion. Playing in Wa in front of their fans for the first time this season against Karela, there was a general feeling that Wa All Stars would at least, avoid a defeat and if they want it more enough, they would bust the gut and go for all three points. To go down very late in the game called into question their endurance and determination, something their coach wasn’t enthused about in the 1-1 with Elmina Sharks in week five. Now with games coming up fast and furious, it is going to be hectic and ugly for the Northern Blues in their next six games vs.
Bechem United (Away)
Asante Kotoko (Home)
Liberty Pros (Away)
Inter Allies (Home)
Wa All Stars would require every ounce of everything football with regards tactics, discipline, desire, dedication etc. to walk through the next six games undamaged. Their trajectory in the seven games thus far spells doom for them in the next six.
Lack of focus and creativity cost Kotoko once more on the road
Focus! Focus!! Focus!!! That is something Kumasi Asante Kotoko don’t do away from the Baba Yara Sports Stadium. In football, the very fraction of a second you lose focus, you get punished. It has been the trend for the Porcupine Warriors on the road, picking just a point in four games (possible 12 points). Lack of focus ensured they gave away a late penalty at the T&A Park in Tarkwa against Medeama after Felix Annan had made six astounding saves to keep them in the game. That was not a good enough lesson, they travelled to neighbours Ashanti Gold in week five. In the space of three minutes in the second half at the Len Clay, Kotoko imploded and gave away two goals courtesy lack of focus. It is down to lack of focus which resulted to another late winner for Dreams FC at the Theatre of Dreams in Dawu. Once the game is not over or the referee has not whistled for an infringement, you cannot take your eyes off the game and drop your guards. The focus must be to win a point or more on the road. It is becoming increasingly frustrating for the fans of Kotoko who believe they are closer to winning more than a point away in a game, yet, they are far away from doing that because of lack of focus and obviously, creativity to break down opponents away from home. Paa Kwasi Fabin was brought in to replace Steve Polack to fix Kotoko’s apparent problems. For a club who relies heavily on penalties (and not even perfect at converting them), it is very important for the coach if he wants be in Kumasi for a long time, to find ways of fixing Kotoko’s pesky deficiencies.
Liberty Professionals dwarfed
After their wild jubilation at the Carl Reinforf for ending Ashanti Gold’s unbeaten run, Liberty seemed to have not recovered from the joy and merriment in mid-week. After going ahead via Benjamin Eshun’s penalty in the 24th minute, Liberty looked very complacent, playing fanciful but unproductive football and they lost their way during the game. Despite going down by a dodgy penalty, Dwarfs didn’t let their heads drop and stuck to their game plan. Coach Bashir Hayford was on his feet all day just to keep his charges on their toes. When Alhaji Mustapha drew parity in the 84th minute, you could sense that the comeback was on. Eventually and deservedly, got the match winner on the cusp of full time dramatically, through Dennis Nkrumah Korsah. Sweet victory for the Crabs and a painful lesson for the Dansoman-based who failed to cushion their lead. The victory has seen Dwarfs climb to 11th with eight points and seen Liberty drop to 15th with seven points and a game in hand.