The latest 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.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Asante Kotoko will face more daunting opponents in the league this season than Bibiani Gold Stars, but the trip to contest the newly-promoted side was testing for altogether different reasons.
Gold Stars are only in their first season as a top-flight club, but they’re already playing like experienced campaigners, having beaten a former league champion and held a two-time FA Cup winner in their first two games. Next, they eyed the infinitely bigger scalp of Kotoko, seeking to capitalise on the growing pains of Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum’s young team.
Unsurprisingly, Kotoko found Gold Stars unyielding at their Duns Park home, only prevailing — a third win on the bounce now — thanks to an Isaac Oppong beauty. It was the 18-year-old’s fourth direct goal contribution for the Porcupine Warriors — two goals, two assists, and you might want to throw in the penalty he won to spark a turnaround in the previous match — just three fixtures into the new season.
Oppong’s first two appearances were as a super-sub, with head coach Ogum rewarding those late shows with the teenager’s first start of the season, and he certainly made it count in Bibiani. That a player so young should have an impact so huge on a club so grand is quite remarkable, more so when you recall that Kotoko plucked Oppong from Ghana’s third-tier only in the last transfer window.
Oppong has flown off the blocks and established himself as Kotoko’s game-changer this season; suddenly, his 2020/21 total of 22 goals and 11 assists — from 17 games as a Division Two League player — doesn’t look so ridiculous anymore. Kotoko, clearly, are onto a winner here.
QUAYE SR. IS NOW OLY’S MAIN MAN
With Gladson Awako in his element last season, and all his Accra Great Olympics teammates in his shadow, it was easy to forget just how brilliant Maxwell Abbey Quaye proved for the Dade Boys. The older of the Quaye brothers finished the season as the club’s topscorer, on 10 goals, and — like Awako — got invited to represent Ghana at international level, but wasn’t hailed quite as much as his more heralded teammate.
Now that Awako has left Olympics for city rivals Accra Hearts of Oak — or, more precisely, for nowhere — there is no brighter star in Annor Walker’s team than Abbey Quaye, and he is certainly shining. A fine hat-trick on Matchday 2 was followed by the matchwinner on Saturday against Legon Cities, elevating him to the top of the scoring charts.
Abbey Quaye isn’t just on course to outscore his tally from last season; he’s set to outshine everyone at Olympics and, just maybe, in the entire division.
RTU – ABAGNA = ?
Quaye was top-scorer over the weekend only until David Abagna, of Real Tamale United (RTU), showed up with a brace against the West African Football Academy (WAFA) to secure his team’s first win of the season.
Those goals were his — and RTU’s — fourth and fifth, and Abagna is certainly justifying why the Premier League returnees made him their marquee signing and cornerstone. You begin to wonder, though, just how such a heavy reliance on a single player, even one who’d be most people’s first pick in a GPL Fantasy Team, would affect the side when Abagna is unavailable for some reason. Who, then, would carry the burden of RTU’s survival hopes (or any loftier aspirations they might have, for that matter)?
With such an eventuality in mind, head coach Shaibu Tanko would do well to work on diversifying his team’s source of goals — and inspiration — while Abagna still has enough gas in the tank. There is, after all, only so much the former Ashanti Gold man can do; right now, though, RTU can’t have him doing any less.
DREAMS, GOALS & TRENDS
Okay, so this is probably of little significance, but if your eye for patterns is as keen as mine, Dreams FC’s trend this season cannot go unnoticed. Of the seven games thus far that have yielded at least four goals, Dreams have been involved in three, contributing to matching score-lines, too: lost the first 3-1, won the next two 3-1.
Make of that what you will.
ARE YOU WATCHING, ‘MILO’?
In a week when the Black Stars’ lack of a reliable No.9 was exposed in two Qatar 2022 qualifying games, the Premier League served a reminder of the abundant resources available that could solve Ghana trainer Milovan ‘Milo’ Rajevac’s headache.
Messrs Abbey (Olympics), Kofi Kordzi (Accra Hearts of Oak), Ibrahim Osman (King Faisal) and Agyenim Boateng (Dreams FC) scored in successive games — a dozen goals between them already — for their respective clubs, and Rajevac, as he moulds his Ghana team for 2022’s packed international calendar, could do worse than consider these strikers and others that would find their own scoring boots as the season goes along.