Ghana Premier League: Five highlights of the first round

Great Olympics v Kotoko
Goal Ghana
As the GPL takes a pause, Goal reviews five highlights of the first round

COMMENT    By Prince Narkortu Teye      Follow on Twitter

After 15 rounds of games, the Ghana Premier League finally hit the midway line on Sunday.

From Wafa’s fine season so far, and mixed fortunes for Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko, there have been talking points aplenty during an entertaining campaign.

In this feature, Goal review five highlights of the opening half of the season.

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Wafa’s surreal ride

Even in the face of their current firm hold of the top spot, Wafa coach Klaus Rasmussen insists their objective for this season is to beat the relegation drop. The trainer’s comments could be a talk of modesty, but they also demonstrate how far they have come.

In undoubtedly their best first-round showing in the top division, the Academy Boys have won 10, drawn two and lost three games thus far. The side have been ever strong at home, and having now seemingly addressed their hitherto terrible form on the road, it makes sense that they’re now counted among the true contenders.

Kotoko v Aduana

Asante Kotoko’s turmoil

The Porcupine Warriors started the season with Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic, briefly switched over to deputy coach Godwin Ablordey, then brought in ex-star Frimpong Manso and are currently with former Berekum Chelsea trainer Steven Polack.

Still, none of the would-be bosses has been able to save them from what arguably passes for their worst first round ever in the Ghana Premier League, even if Polack’s true impact is yet to be felt.

The Kumasi-based side currently sit seventh on the league, largely thanks to good results in their first seven matches. However, without a win in their last 10 fixtures in all competitions, including eight games in the top flight, the most successful side in the division’s history have much to remedy moving forward.

Coach Frank Nuttall reacts as Gor Mahia beat KMKM of Zanzibar in Tanzania

Hearts’ quick U-turn

Kotoko’s predicament is nearly opposite to their bitter rivals’ fortunes. Following a shaky start to the league, Hearts of Oak, led by Scotsman Frank Nuttall, seem to be in some form of renaissance.

The 20-time champions won just one of their opening five matches, prompting a brief and predictable uproar. Although still far from flawless, the Phobians gradually seem to be getting into their groove, having gone undefeated in their last eight matches in all competitions.

Their encouraging form has lifted them to third on the table, four points adrift of second-placed Aduana Stars, while captain Thomas Abbey’s seven goals from midfield has provided another source of joy for the fans.

Great Olympics coach Tom Strand

Olympic Drama

This episode will not be easily forgotten!

Following Olympics’ poor start to the season, management resolved to bring in former Medeama coach Tom Strand, relegating erstwhile head coach Godwin Attram to the deputy role. However, the latter, who qualified the side to the top tier last season but had won just one game on the pitch this campaign, did not take kindly to his demotion, leading to an embarrassing spectacle.

Four days before playing Liberty Professionals on matchday 12, the team was forcibly divided into two parties.

While one group trained with newly-appointed Strand, the other set practised under Attram at a different venue. With the impasse only settled a day to the match, the ‘Dade’ Boys were lucky to come away with a point.

Ebusua Dwarfs

Nicholas Gyan leads goal-king race

For a country that has struggled to replace its leading but ageing goal scorer Asamoah Gyan, the identity of the man at the top of the scoring charts should prompt optimism—and fuel talk that an heir has been found.

With eight goals, Ebusua Dwarfs striker Nicholas Gyan sits atop the scoring chart, one goal better than Hearts’ Abbey.

Berekum Chelsea striker Stephen Sarfo, Liberty Professionals skipper Samuel Sarfo and Amed Toure of Bechem United all follow closely with six goals apiece.