Annor Supplants Etouga to Win Epic ‘Goal-king’ Battle
Quite early in the 2021/22 Ghana Premier League season, it became apparent that this title race wasn’t going to be as keenly contested as the last.
Asante Kotoko started on a strong note, winning all of their first four games, and never really took their foot off the pedal in pursuit of a first league crown in eight years. Before long, the Porcupine Warriors were coasting to glory, leaving the rest of the division in their rearview mirror.
Watching Kotoko pull clear and establish themselves beyond anyone’s reach – eventually clinching the trophy with three games to spare, 11 points ahead of second-placed Medeama – soon got boring, however, and spectators sought suspense and drama elsewhere.
And these thrill-seekers did find plenty of those in the season’s biggest sideshow, the race for the top-scorer’s prize.
Initially, that, too, appeared to underwhelm, almost subsumed into Kotoko’s sphere of dominance. Franck Etouga, their new Cameroonian striker, had to wait for his debut but wasted no time in staking a claim once he took off.
Etouga wasn’t going to have it all his way, however.
Aduana’s Bright Adjei began to give chase and, by the end of February, the two were trading goals for fun, hat-tricks this week and doubles the next. But Aduana’s form quickly cooled – they won none of their last 14 matches, in fact – and so did Adjei’s own flamin’ hot streak.
Etouga, though, only kept firing, encouraged by the prospect of becoming the first foreigner to be crowned the Ghanaian top-flight’s ‘goal-king’, along with the small distinction of equaling (possibly breaking) Ishmael Addo’s long-standing Premier League-era mark of 22 goals.
But that was only until another challenger, Yaw Annor of Ashantigold, threw his hat in the ring quite late on. The winger – yes, winger – had scored just once before the turn of the year, only to burst into a rich vein of form, especially in the last three months.
Annor’s goals suddenly came thick and fast – he even produced an impressive four-goal haul, against Berekum Chelsea – and he went into the 34th and final matchday breathing down the neck of Etouga, who, having failed to widen his advantage, found himself only a goal ahead.
Another goal (or more) against Accra Lions, in Kotoko’s concluding game of the season, would be enough to get him over the line, and there certainly was confidence that Etouga could manage it; he had, after all, breached the Lions backline three times in their first-round meeting.
This time, however, he huffed and puffed in vain, with Kotoko’s only goal in a 1-1 draw coming from Samuel Boateng, into whose path Lions goalkeeper Frederick Asare parried a rather tame shot by – who else? – Etouga.
Etouga’s failure would be Annor’s cue and, a day later, the latter grabbed it with gratitude.
Annor had 90-odd minutes to overtake Etouga, yet he did it in just about 45. By the end of the first half in Bibiani, away to Gold Stars, Annor had bagged a brace to ensure the coveted award goes to an Ashgold player for the sixth time – quite the goodbye, too, if we really won’t be seeing the Aboakese in the Premier League for some time.
And there is uncertainty about how much more of Annor himself we’d be seeing, with the subject of where he plays next already dominating the back-pages. That would determine whether or not he’d get to defend his title – don’t hold your breath, though – but one suspects Annor wouldn’t be bothered by those thoughts right now.
He will, quite rightfully, savour this moment and revel in his well-earned success. Etouga, still commendable for how well he has taken to a new league/culture on the first attempt, will rue the opportunities missed but could still take solace in Kotoko’s conquest and his leading role in it.
Oh, Ishmael Addo?
The 45-year-old, wherever he is, can release all the pent-up tension he must have felt as his record came increasingly under threat. It remains intact, albeit now jointly-held.