GPL: How the relegation battle unravelled

Three sides have kissed the flagship competition goodbye, and this is a recap of how it happened

GOALEDITORIAL    By Prince Narkortu Teye     Follow on Twitter

It was indeed an exciting end to the 2014-15 Ghana Premier League season. Nerves, anguish, anxiety, they don’t come any harder as the battle to beat the drop unfolded.

In the end, Great Olympics and Heart of Lions are the pair who will be counting down to the start of the 2015-16 Ghana Division One season after joining Brong Ahafo United as the three unlucky sides.

But how did it all happen?

Ahead of the final round of matches, at least two things were clear; Ashanti Gold had claimed their first league title in 19 years after a six-point lead at the summit, and BA United had been confirmed as one of three casualties to be demoted.

In all, eight other teams, from the 15th to the 8th position on the log, could possibly bite the dust.

As the table stood ahead of the final day

Safe to say only Ashgold, Aduana Stars, Liberty Professionals, Inter Allies, Hearts of Oak, Berekum Chelsea and Wa All Stars had been as secured as answering the roll call in the league next season. Thus, WAFA, Lions, defending champions Kotoko, Hasaacas, Edubiase, Medeama, Bechem United and Olympics had their fates to fight for on Sunday.

With Olympics and Bechem on the 15th and 14th positions respectively, only a win was sure of giving them any chance out of the relegation zone.

But then, the ‘Dade Boys’ had to come up against runaway winners Ashgold, who would have loved to end the league in style with a final day victory at the Accra Sports Stadium. They were just as confident of finding a win.

“I can assure you [the fans] that we are not going for relegation,” defender Dan Quaye had told Goal ahead of the game.

Indeed, the Accra-based side, hitherto with 37 points, found a victory, a 2-1 win, but would still end up getting relegated.

How did that happen?

A fine performance wasn't enough for Oly

With Bechem (38 points), Medeama (38), Edubiase (39), Hasaacas (39 ), Kotoko (39), Lions (40) and WAFA (40) some few marks ahead prior to matchday 30, Olympics did not just have to win, but had to hope results elsewhere went in their favour.

That was not to be, as Bechem recorded a comprehensive 4-1 win over the already-relegated BA United, Medeama beat Allies 2-1, Edubiase thrashed Lions 4-2, Hasaacas pipped Liberty 2-1, Kotoko walloped second-placed Aduana 4-0 and WAFA managed a 0-0 stalemate with Hearts.

Thus, of all the seven sides above the ‘Dade Boys’, only Lions and WAFA dropped points. However, having been three points clear off Olympics, a point at Hearts was enough to send the ‘Academy Boys’ to 41 points, guaranteeing them a topflight place next season.

Effectively, it left Lions, who were previously three points away from Olympics in a dire situation. Although they both eventually tied on 40 points after the sequence of results, the ‘Dade Boys’ had a better head-to-head record, sending them above the Kpando-based side.

In any case, it didn’t matter who had the better of the other.

WAFA (eventually finishing 13th), Medeama (12th), Bechem (11th) and All Stars (10th) all found themselves on 41 points, effectively cementing their places among Ghana’s elite. Edubiase, Hasaacas and Kotoko, for their parts, did not just beat the drop, but found themselves among the top ten.

Such relief!

But for Olympics, it is a case of deja vu, as they head back to the second tier they only escaped last season (2013-14). On the other hand, Lions, after a 12-year premiership stay, will hope to bounce back as quickly as possible. For BA, you would reckon, Sunday’s 4-1 defeat to Bechem was more of a preparatory match than anything, ahead of life in the second tier after a one-year adventure among Ghana’s top sides.