Others, though, have more modest objectives, not looking to secure much more than survival. Three clubs, despite their best efforts, will fail in that bid, and Ink & Kicks writers assess the chances of the likeliest candidates for the drop.
BIBIANI GOLD STARS
We’d love to say Bibiani Gold Stars are going to shock us all like they did in the Division One League last season — but, no, they’re unlikely to.
Head coach Kobina Amissah — the promotion specialist — got a lot of credit for his work in getting the club to the top-flight for the first time, but he surprisingly departed after the feat was accomplished. Without him at the helm, will things really be the same?
Now, we’ve seen newly-promoted teams perform well for a dozen or so games until the collective will that got them to the top gets drained; until the rest of the teams in the division catch on to the JJC’s fresh tactical quirks; until the relative lack of depth, inevitably, starts to show and the cracks widen into chasms.
A couple of signings the club has made, like Mohammed Oshee and Latif Abubakar, are either going to go brilliantly or go terribly, and it’s a risk that could see them lose the fight to retain their elite status on the first attempt.
REAL TAMALE UNITED
After an eight-year absence, Real Tamale United (RTU) regained promotion to the Premier League last season after emerging winners of Zone 1 (quite dramatically, too, at the expense of Bofoakwa Tano).
The Pride of the North, as RTU are affectionately called, first succumbed to relegation in 2011, having hitherto been a mainstay in the top-flight for over three decades.
Now, though, they’re back, and while the club enjoys some solid bankrolling, the transfer business done ahead of the new season was quite underwhelming. David Abagna, formerly of Ashanti Gold, is the only high-profile addition to a playing body which is vastly inexperienced, and that might come back to bite.
Then there is the issue of fatigue, the accumulation of which is bound to afflict Tamale-based RTU to some extent as the season goes along. They’re the northernmost side in the division, far removed from even the geographically closest of the other 17 and thus required to cover long distances to play their away games.
A prompt return to the second tier, given the above handicaps, isn’t an improbable scenario.
KUMASI KING FAISAL
Newly-promoted teams are usually the first point of reference when discussing potential relegation candidates. Next, you have the teams that barely beat the drop in the previous season.
Faisal were one of those teams last season, escaping by the skin of their teeth on the final day, and ultimately with a superior head-to-head record to thank; before that, they’d spent quite a few seasons in the Division One League.
As much as Faisal deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt this time, they haven’t improved much ahead of the start of the new season. They’ve made a couple of decent signings — striker Osman Ibrahim, who had a great first spell with Faisal, has returned on loan, joined by Asante Kotoko teammate Emmanuel Sarkodie, while ex-Medeama goalkeeper Frank Boateng is also in on a free transfer.
Still, it could be argued that Faisal are weaker, having sold last season’s top-scorer Kwame Peprah to Orlando Pirates last month and also lost on-loan goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim. Add the fact that Faisal are being led by an inexperienced trainer, Nurudeen Ahmed, and it doesn’t make for good endings in the upcoming campaign.