GPL REVIEW (1): Late Goals, A Shocker & Faisal’s Big Break
The first gameweek of the 2021/22 Ghana Premier League season thrilled but also taught us a few lessons, five of which Ink & Kicks highlights in our latest review.
HEARTS ARE VERY OKAY… FOR NOW
Accra Hearts of Oak’s start to their title defence was always going to be challenging, and the frustrating nature of their opening game on Sunday suggested as much. Maxwell Konadu has always been a tough — and invincible — opponent for Hearts, and he proved true to form on his latest assignment against the champions. Hearts showed lots of attacking intent but were thwarted time and again by an inspired Eric Ofori Antwi — a goalkeeper current Hearts boss Samuel Boadu worked extensively with at Medeama and who was a rumoured target for the Phobians in the just-ended window.
Boadu, after the match, bemoaned the recent inability of his team to score enough — Hearts have just two goals from their last three competitive games — but there was enough quality on display to suggest that their strengths haven’t diminished. Hearts’ next six games won’t be any easier, and a victorious opener would have been good for morale. Still, there appears very little to be worried about just yet. They’ll be up and running, I think, sooner than later.
OSEI-FOSU SUFFERS AGAIN IN BECHEM
Trips to Bechem, needless to say, haven’t been too pleasant for new Medeama head coach Ignatius Osei-Fosu. On his only previous visit, in his former job at the helm of Eleven Wonders, the young tactician watched his team suffer a 3-0 defeat to Bechem United and also infamously got the rough treatment from the police.
Sunday was just a little worse, even without another brush with law enforcement. Osei-Fosu’s Medeama debut saw the Mauve & Yellow thumped 4-0. It was an inauspicious beginning to a tenure that is supposed to take his career — and Medeama — to the next level. Medeama do have the quality and pedigree to recover from this early setback, and we’d like to believe Osei-Fosu — touted as the next big thing among Ghanaian coaches — has the nous to supervise that recovery. We marked them out as title favourites, and it would be sad to see all that potential start to drain because of one very bad game.
BIBIANI’S MINERS ALREADY STRIKING GOLD
We’d known Gold Stars were always going to be a handful in their maiden top-flight campaign, given how impressively they secured promotion, but the speed with which the Bibiani-based outfit have sprung off the blocks has, frankly, taken us aback. Our writers haven’t given them much of a chance to survive the baptism of fire their first season is expected to be, but with a start like what they’ve had — beating 2010/11 champions Berekum Chelsea 1-0 — a plate of humble pie might already be baking in the oven for us. Gold Stars, notably, were the only one of the three newly-promoted sides to win their opening game. It was a statement performance, one that would make subsequent opponents — even more formidable ones — wary, if not shudder.
FAISAL START WELL — AND IT’S A BIG DEAL
It’s a rare thing for Kumasi King Faisal, in recent seasons (completed or otherwise), to win their first Premier League game. Their last season-opener, for instance, was a 4-3 loss to WAFA, the same side against which they kicked off the new campaign. This time, at the renovated Baba Yara Stadium, the pair served a less frenzied affair, won 1-0 at the death by Faisal courtesy of Zubairu Ibrahim. A good opening fixture doesn’t guarantee a successful season, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to get off on the right foot. Faisal haven’t done that in a long while so, well, way to go!
WELCOME TO THE LATE-GAME SHOW
Eight of the 17 goals scored on the opening matchday came in the 81st minute or later, seven of which turned defeats into draws, draws into wins, and even looming defeats into wins.