With less than 3 weeks to the start of the festive 2015/2016 Ghana league season, Joel Abeiku Hammond takes a look at five things to expect in the new season.
1. IMPACT FROM THE RETURNEES
The new season has seen the comeback of some well-known and experienced house-hold names.
Players who had a jib at playing football or had torrid times with their clubs abroad have returned to the Ghana Premier League to breathe new lives into their careers, I surmise.
– Eric Bekoe (Hasaacas)
The 2007/2008 season was a season that saw him triumph against the odds to win the Premier League top goal scorer, coupled with the league title and President’s Cup that same season.
Notwithstanding his inconsistency over the past few years perhaps due to injuries, especially after leaving Petroject of Egypt, he exhibits a kind of trait which is rare in most strikers; Productivity and high conversion rate. He’s one of those intelligent nerve-controlling clinical finishers the game can boast of.
Isn’t it good news to have the 29-year-old return to the local scene to sign a two-year contract with Hasaacas?
It won’t be a surprise to see Eric Bekoe’s impact come to bare in the upcoming season with the tons of experience on his sleeves.
– Yahaya Mohammed (Aduana Stars)
Razor-sharp striker Yahaya ‘Momo’ Mohammed, once an exciting player on the local scene, has signed with Dormaa Ahenkro’s Aduana Stars after a stint with Al-Ittihad of Libya. The 27-year-old’s knack for putting balls in the back of the net, his creativity in the final third and his strong vertical-leaping ability has turned him into a proficient striker over time. He is a player that has mental toughness and shows good strength in attack using his body and strength to shrink off and get in front of defenders and also hold up balls, enabling him to bring his teammates into the game. One more attribute; Yahaya Mohammed has a powerful, de luxe straight-shot free-kick trademark. It is pretty obvious that his return to the local scene augurs well for the new season of the Ghana Premier League. And with the weight of Aduana’s hopes resting on his shoulders, he is expected to be steadfast in attack as the league kick-starts on February 20.
–Saddick Adams (Berekum Chelsea)
The former Under 17 hit maker has returned to Ghana after his contract with Al-Feiha of Saudi Arabia ended. He opted on his return to sign for Berekum Chelsea again after leaving the Berekum outfit two seasons ago to sign for Saudi’s Al-Nahda Club.
After dry and rainless spells at FK Vojvdina of Serbia, Tunisia’s Etoile Sportive du Sahel and Al Ansar of Saudi Arabia, he signed for Berekum Chelsea in the 2012/2013 season. But he was unremarkable, perhaps, because injury got the best part of him throughout that season. But the little he displayed in the just ended G6 tournament indicates the 27-year-old striker looks set to make an impact on his second comeback.
2. PREDICTABILITY AT THE END OF THE SEASON
Then there will be moments of foretelling, soothsaying and crystal gazing prior to the end of the season.
In fact after week 25 of matches been played, predictions will become as easy as falling and betting on the league matches no longer become uncertainty. Clubs that are better positioned on the league log will give away points like pies and clubs on the other hand, that are badly in need of victories to escape relegation will get the victories in sacks and packs.
The goal-tight league we will know of from the beginning of the season will drastically turn into a goal-galore league getting to the end of the season. This has being a trend in the Ghana Premier League in recent years for reasons no one can be sure of, leaving a lot fans in the Ghana football fraternity questioning at the competitiveness of the league. We can only hang in and hope my prophesy doesn’t manifest – which I pray it doesn’t since I takes away that thrill and excitement we as football fans look up to prior to the end of the season.
3. THE EMERGENCE OF TALENTS
Well, these names may not be new to football fans in Ghana but they are here as emerging talents because they haven’t received the maximum attention due them judging from their lung-bursting performances last season. This new season will see these young lads erupt like a volcano.
-Dauda Mohammed (Forward) – Asante Kotoko
The Kotoko youth team product, normally as a second striker, caught the eye with his attacking raids in the final third as he catapulted himself into the limelight with a stunning performance last season which earned him a place in the Ghana under-23 team, The Black Meteors. Dauda, 17, scored 7 goals in 23 league appearances last season and will be one the torques in Kotoko’s attack this new season.
-Emmanuel Osei-Baffour (Winger) – Ashanti Gold
A live wire on the right or left side of Ashanti Gold’s attack: His wily positional play, eye-of-a-needle crosses and his ability to take on defenders on a pace makes him not just the steering wheel but the metronome of Ashanti Gold’s team. All he needs was a razor-sharp and clinical finisher to complement or connect his efforts, which I hope the likes of Fusseini Nuhu, Isaac Amoah and Emmanuel Osei will do quite well to hand The Miners another opportunity of defending the league title.
-Mumuni Zakaria (Attacking Midfielder) – Aduana Stars
The adroit playmaker who can also play as a forward, was on the crest of a wave with his deft touches and skill for WAFA last season. His defense-splitting and high work-rate makes him a cut for an attacking midfield role, be it on the left or right wing or directly behind the striker. He managed 8 goals in 21 league matches for WAFA last season.
His surprise switch to Dormaa Ahenkro’s Aduana Stars might see him relish his prospects of winning laurels on the local scene.
-Martin Antwi (Central Midfielder) – WAFA
His creativity in the final third saw him provide the impetus for Mumuni Zakaria and others to bang in the goals. The WAFA skipper netted 8 goals in last season’s campaign, a feat not common with central midfielders on the local scene.
4. COMPETITION FROM THE NEW CLUBS
All three of the new entrants are arguably evenly balanced in terms of new signings, player and technical team quality and motivation compared with the already-existing 13 league clubs.
They seem ready to map up with the already-existing 13 clubs in the league.
Let us see how well, then….
Amassing 70 points from a possible 90 with 23 wins, 1 draw and 6 loses and scoring a whopping 68 goals in 30 matches was more than enough to qualify The Cape Coast outfit to the Ghana Premier League.
Abusua Dwarfs, of course, are not new to the Premier league. It took them just a season to return to top flight after suffering relegation in the 2013/2014 season. Despite not being too active in the transfer window, they come into the league with great form and an impressive statistics from the Division One league. And with the addition of former Hearts of Oak forward, Romeo Agban to an already-formidable squad consisting of goal-wizard Lukman Bright, Nicholas Gyan amongst many others, the ‘Abontuoabontuoa’ boys will be an impregnable force this season.
Dreams F.C in a bid to contest in the Ghana Premier League this new season have strengthened their squad with seven new players – Hearts of Lions’ goalie Mozart Adjetey and defender Mohammed Razik, defender David Korbah from Kotoko, Olympics’ midfielder Godfred Asante, Hearts of Oak’s midfield general Emmanuel Hayford, midfielder Prosper Donkor from Bechem United and second tier side Hot Steels’ striker, Lawson Bekui. Dreams F.C have had a fairly smooth pre-season in terms of results.
Though C.K Akonnor insisted his target is to escape relegation in their first season, I believe they could be a surprise title contender.
Former Berekum Chelsea’s skipper Samuel Kyere, New Edubiase’s centre-back Idrissu Yahaya and Ibrahim Issaka where snapped on transfer deadline day to bolster Techiman City’s squad as they enter into the Ghana Premier League for the first time.
Techiman City had a fairly successful run too in the division one league en route for their qualification ticket to the premier league.
There have always been a lot of positives with clubs from the Bono Ahafo region in years past.
But time will tell as to whether Techiman City can butter up that acclamation?
5. THE RUBIN GNAGNE MOMENTS – Silver lining for Rubin Gnagne’s and Hearts of Oak fans
It will be unfair if not wrong for me not to unfold the mystery of the Ghana Premier League last season to you. The man at the extremity of forms, from the first second he set foot on a pitch in a competitive game in rainbow colors; Rubin Gnagne.
In all honesty, the Rubin Gnagne moments have always been there in all the seasons he has featured in.
Many at times forwards and attacking players steal the show on the pitch and take all the plaudits from fans and experts. But this young centre-back has compelled many of us to reject that notion. He brings the house down day-in-day-out – in fact seasons-in-seasons-out too.
Although not huge in stature, the dynamic centre-back makes defending look ridiculously simple especially under intense pressure.
Undoubtedly, the most seasoned player in the current Hearts of Oak setup, and arguably the most consistent in the Ghana Premier League.
The Ivorian’s impressive confidence, tackling technique, stamina, quickness and relentlessness have become the hallmarks of his game. He gives attackers no time on the ball and shows great tenacity and brilliance in winning challenges.
Many have tagged him as over-confident, complacent and so on, but for some of us, watching him play is a happy moment. Watching him play does not only send chills down our spine or get us gooseflesh, but his play makes our knees go wobbly also.
In my candid view, the sun this season will rise and set on him once again.
Rubin Gnagne as 2015/2016 Ghana Premier League player is a dead cert.