For nine Ghana Premier League (GPL) games, Elmina Sharks stumbled and fell and crawled through the tunnel, not knowing when — or from where — the proverbial light at the end would come.
They lost eight of those, picking a point in just one, conceding 14 goals and scoring none. It was as bleak a run as it could get, with Sharks steadily — then rapidly — slipping down the league table until they hit, well, rock-bottom.
A change in technical direction, with the appointment of Kobina Amissah in January, was made in an attempt to halt the rot and reverse the team’s fortunes.
Amissah — a man more famed for helping teams rise to the top-flight than for keeping them from going down — took up what had seemed like a poisoned chalice, but with confidence.
He has history with the club, after all, being the man who masterminded their promotion to the GPL in 2016. And it took him all of three games to achieve what appeared hitherto impossible: a league win.
Perhaps more incredibly, it came against league leaders Asante Kotoko. The Porcupine Warriors stormed Elmina on Monday confident of overcoming a team that just couldn’t seem to catch a break, one that kept coming off worse in nearly every duel.
But Kotoko weren’t so fortunate, despite taking a first-half lead. Sharks levelled before the half was over, and then won the game after recess from the spot, though not without some controversy. Kotoko had their own penalty, at the death, but the usually clinical Franck Etouga fluffed his lines and missed a chance to equalise.
And with that, Sharks pulled off a resounding, unlikely result. Perhaps, though, considering Sharks’ recent record against Kotoko — they did the double over them last term — perhaps it wasn’t so unlikely.
Whatever the case, and regardless of the nature of the victory, Amissah will take it.
“Kotoko played very good football,” he conceded post-match. “But I think we played our best game and we were very determined for the win.”
Sharks have shown definite signs of improvement since Amissah took charge. Following the win against Kotoko, they now have four points from nine; not remarkable, ordinarily, but definitely so considering how bad things were before his re-appointment.
Their first league win in over two months, at the expense of such formidable opposition, should provide the psychological fillip required to help them turn the corner for good. Sharks are still last on the log, though, and even in their best form, they will be there for at least another match-week.
But there remains a full half of the season to come; enough time to fully dig themselves out of this rut and reach steadier, firmer ground. It will take some work but, after their 16th result of this league campaign — their biggest yet and, certainly, their best in a while — they have every reason to believe.