By Owusu Ansah Doe
Clubs representing Ghana in the ongoing African continental inter-club competitions brought smiles on the faces of their followers and enthusiasts after the opening games of their respective campaigns honoured about a week ago.
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All four – Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Medeama, Berekum Chelsea and Ebusua Dwarfs - recorded slender margins of victory.
Really, though, that was all there was to those wins: slender and hardly convincing. A near identical mirror image, you would say, of the just-ended CHAN where Ghana lost out in the finale against Libya following a series of narrow results.
Kotoko won 2-1 against unfancied Barrack Young Controllers from Liberia, while Medeama triumph in Equatorial Guinea courtesy a similar outcome. Chelsea also won by two unanswered goals against South Sudan's Atlabara, and Dwarfs beat Senegalese opposition by a lone goal.
Even less impressive were the styles in which those wins were achieved. The Porcupine Warriors scored two spot kicks, while the Blues got one themselves before cushioning their first leg lead with a fine strike. Dwarfs converted a penalty as well, leaving the Mauve and Yellows as the only one among the quartet to score all of their goals from open play.
Ironically enough, defenders and midfielders scored all seven goals recorded, while the clubs' defensive setups proved quite mean, shipping in a collective tally of just two.
For these trends, too, the 2014 CHAN easily provides reference points. Ghana conceded only once throughout said tournament, scoring a measly four.
The Ghana Premier League, which serves a pool for talent available for such national assignments, is increasingly gaining notoriety for producing better goalkeepers, defenders, and good-scoring midfielders than efficacious forwards.
That Kwabena Adusei (center-back, Kotoko), Jackson Owusu (midfielder, Chelsea), Michael Helegbe and Samuel Nzemaba (midfielders, Medeama) were among the goalscorers during the first leg fixtures tells much of the story.
Indeed, this revelation throws more light on the series of lackluster performances our home-based strikers put forth week-in, week-out, while the defenders and midfielders
continue to flourish steadily.
It comes as no surprise, then, to see the local league's topscorers average 10 goals or fewer over the course of recent seasons.
The above notwithstanding, Kotoko, Chelsea, Medeama and Dwarfs would turn to the men they pay for goals aplenty to help them skip safely over the line this weekend in the return legs.
Hopefully this bane would be overcomed for the progress of the competing clubs and, ultimately, for the benefit of the Ghanaian game in its entirety.