The latest game-week 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.
SHARKS MASTER THE ART OF LOSING
Losing is one thing, but mastering the art of it is an entirely different skill — one that no club certainly wants to learn, let alone master. But Elmina Sharks appear to have taken that unenviable task on, and they’re doing it almost too well, under the technical direction — or, rather, misdirection? — of recently appointed head coach Mallam Yahaya.
It has been exactly a month since they last won a Premier League game, losing all five fixtures that have followed their 2-1 home victory over Karela United. Even more ‘impressively’, Sharks — toothless as can be — have done all that sans scoring.
Now tell me: how more perfectly could you lose?
ADUANA LOSING FEAR FACTOR
Don’t get me wrong: Aduana are still a pretty decent, pretty fearsome side on most days; it isn’t for nothing, after all, that they are only three points behind the league leaders. It is at their Dormaa-Ahenkro ‘fortress’ — if you could still call it that these days — that the Ogya lads are losing their fear factor.
Only two months ago did Aduana lose a first home league game in five years, King Faisal the victorious guests, before Asante Kotoko — Aduana’s sworn enemies and, incidentally (or maybe not so incidentally), Faisal’s immediate neighbours — inflicted a second loss on New Year’s Day at the Nana Agyeman Badu I (NAB 1) Park.
Neither defeat — both by two-goal margins — was narrower than the other, but the latest would hurt far more. Kotoko, in 11 prior league visits, had never so much as scored at the NAB 1, never mind win, but they went the whole nine yards this time — and with some ease. Going forward, not many visiting teams would look forward to that Dormaa-Ahenkro trip with any real anxiety.
WILL THE REAL HEARTS PLEASE STAND UP?
Accra Hearts of Oak’s season has been the classic definition of ‘stop-start’, hasn’t it?
After managing to drag themselves out of a four-game winless rut, Hearts won two matches on the bounce, only to pick just five points from the next nine available. It’s such lukewarm form, as though Hearts themselves are unsure of just what they are, and it’s not quite what you’d expect from reigning champions.
Hearts are currently mid-table, and it’s impossible to argue that their pattern of results — and the accompanying performances — deserves more. They still have two games in hand, with which they could climb into the top quarter if head coach Samuel Boadu is able to develop and maintain some momentum, but don’t raise those hopes just yet.
LIONS FIND SOME RHYTHM
A draw on their top-flight debut suggested Accra Lions wouldn’t have too hard a time adjusting to the whole new ball-game that the Premier League is.
But things got really bad really quickly. The new boys lost with more ease than they won, struggling to string two victories together. Lions won none of their three games in December — made worse by FA Cup elimination — but finished off the year on a high, beating Real Tamale United (RTU) at home.
And they’ve started 2022 on a similar note, this time on the road, as guests of Legon Cities. True, Cities haven’t beaten many sides this season, but they’ve still been in the league — originally as Wa All Stars, 2016 champions — many more years than Lions, making this a pretty big deal.
This revival in fortunes should be a real fillip, and maybe a fulfilment of new head coach James Francis’ recent promise that “the boys will come up”.
Can they sustain it, though? Or is this to be a short-lived respite from the struggles? Whatever this is, well, it’s certainly something to build on. Lions aren’t quite roaring, but sometimes all you need to get going is a hopeful purr. They’ve mustered that, finally.
DREAMS ARE LIVING IN THEIR OWN WORLD
Dreams are seven points off the top of the table, but they are comfortably top of the league by other significant metrics. No team has scored more goals (23) or conceded more (21), thanks in no small part to the fact that all but two of their 11 games have produced four goals or more.
So very often they’ve walked a tightrope, a game of brinkmanship, leaving everyone to guess just which side of a high-scoring result they’d end up; on days like last Sunday, with a 2-2 draw against RTU, they don’t quite make it to either end. Yet it’s almost like they do it with relish, as though it is fun for them. And maybe it is — for us, too.