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GPL: 5 things we learned from Match Day 2

After all of the funfair the Ghana premier league opened to, expectations were high and wide ahead of the match day 2 encounters.

While Kotoko’s home in Kumasi would be denied premier league football for the second week running as a result of their opponents Ashgold’s involvement in Africa, every other premier league center finally witnessed some football after several months of football starvation.

While 15 goals were scored in match day 2 (an average of 2.1 goals per game), this round also brought this year’s league its first managerial casualty. Here are five (5) talking points from Match Day 2.

1. Managers are already feeling the heat

With only two games into the season, it’s seemingly unfathomable for a manager to resign or be sacked for losing his opening two games. After all, there’s still a whopping 28 games to turn things around. Better still, it’s uncommon for a manager to already accuse his players of sabotage after only two games. But that’s exactly what happened after the second round of matches in the Ghana premier league. A 1-0 defeat to Edubiase on Friday night led Ebusua Dwarfs coach J.E. Sarpong to lay into his players and threaten to walk away if their attitudes did not improve. He went ahead to suggest some of his players were deliberately under-performing. These are very strong words from the tough-talking trainer.

But while Sarpong is merely doing talking at this stage, Aduana Stars’ coach Nurudeen Ahmed took a drastic action that surprised many on Monday morning. After stripping experienced right back Godfred Saka of the captain’s armband following their defeat to Inter Allies a week earlier, Ahmed stepped down as Aduana’s head coach after losing to Wa All Stars at home. It was a decision that surprised many on the outside looking in. But for insiders, this wont’ exactly raise eyebrows. Despite spending Ghc 1m on players, Ahmed has struggled to create a fearsome team with all of the quality players brought in. There are also reports of players not being happy about the demotion of their former boss Kwabena Ameyaw to the position of assistant coach after guiding them to a 3rd place finish last year. At the time, Ahmed was technical director of the club. So there you have it. We have the first managerial casualty of the 2015/2016 Ghana premier league season.

2. Returnees shine

One great pleasure about last season was seeing all of the so-called “old players” returning to play for Ghana premier league clubs. Richard “Olele” Kingson, Godwin Attram and Dan Quaye at Great Olympics was such delightful thing to see, while Cofie Bekoe (Bechem), Yakubu Mohammed (Ashgold), and Nathaniel Asamoah (Medeama) all made impacting returns to the Ghana Premier League. This year, quite a number of players have rejoined clubs in Ghana’s top flight and have already started making their mark.

Former Ghana premier league goal king Eric Bekoe gave us glimpses of the man revered by Kotoko fans when his brace gave Hasaacas their first league win. His second, a ferocious drive from outside the area, reminiscent of a typical Eric Bekoe goal. After sojourns that took him to Egypt and back to Berekum Chelsea, it’s good to see him finally playing football again in Ghana.

After grabbing the headlines off the field in the past weeks for all the good reasons, former U-17 star Sadick Adams finally grabbed the headlines on the field after scoring the only goal in his side’s 1-0 victory against WAFA at the Golden City Park. After spending one unsuccessful spell in Saudi Arabia with Al-Feiha FC, Adams is in his second stint with Chelsea and he couldn’t have wished for a better start to life in Berekum than with his club’s first home league goal of the season.

3. Hearts of Oak show early title intent

Yes, yes, yes, it’s only two games into the season so what’s the fuzz about. I get it. But at least can we talk about it? Are Hearts of Oak really title contenders? Well, yes and no. Let’s begin with the positives. Tarkwa is naturally a very difficult ground for any team and had not lost a league game there in two years before Hearts beat them on Sunday. That’s only Hearts of Oak’s 5th victory against the Mauves and Yellows in 17 encounters. So if Hearts of Oak can win in Tarkwa against a strong Medeama side, that’s a big deal.

Even though Medeama dominated in larger spells of the game, Hearts of Oak showed great character and mettle to still emerge victorious. Maximum points from their opening two games, and the positives vibes have returned at a club that hasn’t found happiness in such a long time. I have always maintained that it’s only when Hearts of Oak and Kotoko are performing at a competitive level, going neck to neck with each other in all competitions, that interest in our league will be at its best. With the way Hearts of Oak have started, great things will happen if they can keep this going.

The naysayers however, have pointed to the fact that it’s only two games into the season. Valid point. It’s difficult to predict title challenges after only two games. And Hearts of Oak having exactly dominated and played any savory football in those two victories so what shows they can beat stronger teams like Kotoko or Aduana? They have another massive test against a desperate Dwarfs side in Cape Coast. If they can come out of that unscathed, maybe we should start taking them seriously.

4. Home teams dominate, AGAIN!

5 home victories in 7 games, this has become one of the most predictable things in the Ghana premier league. But two away victories for Wa All Stars and Hearts of Oak means one more away win than we had on the opening weekend. And the fact that both victories were quite unexpected, especially All Stars’ win in Dormaa. Those apart, all of the five other games ended in home victories. Dreams continued their dreams with a 1-0 victory over Bechem United; Edubiase piled more pressure on Dwarfs by beating them 1-0; Chelsea humbled WAFA 1-0; and Hasaacas edged Techiman City 4-2 in a 6-goal thriller. It’s usual around the globe that there are more home wins than away victories, but that ratio is higher in the Ghana premier league.

5. What’s going on with Aduana Stars? 

Before the start of the season,  there was plenty of talk about Aduana Stars being title favorites. In truth, much of that talk wasn’t far fetched. Aduana invested heavily in the transfer window, bringing in some of the top players the local league had to offer.  Add to that, they ensured that all of their key players stayed.

That left us with an Aduana Stars side boasting the likes of Daniel Darkwah, Richard Mpong,  Zakaria Mumuni in midfield; Godfred Saka, Emmanuel Akuako and Yakubu Mohammed in defence; goalkeepers Stephen Adams and Joseph Addo, and the likes of Yahaya Mohammed and Richard Arhin in attack. That’s a lot quality in one team. But that’s also a lot of ego in one team. You’ll need an equally egoistic coach to impose himself in the team. Unfortunately, Nurudeen Amadu was never that man.  He’s not that “big name” coach to lead these “big name” players.  Not to anyone’s surprise, wranglings within the team began with their first game of the season at Inter Allies.  The captaincy was taken away from Saka and following an unexpected defeat at home, Amadu resigned. How Aduana react to the former Wa All Stars man’s resignation is key to their season. Not ‘s lot of big name local coaches are available at the moment. Former Kotoko gaffer was the hottest proposition out there until his recent appointment as U-20 coach-both male and female teams.  Will Albert Commey look outside? Only he knows!

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