Ebusua Dwarfs deepened Inter Allies’ woes on Saturday, sinking the capital-based side to the bottom of the Ghana Premier League table with a sixth straight defeat, while sneaking themselves into the top four.
Before they did — before a ball was kicked in Week 12, that is — Karela United, Great Olympics, Asante Kotoko and Bechem United — in that order — comprised that top quarter, and those clubs would contest two of the game-week’s biggest fixtures on Sunday.
If last weekend served us derby delights — involving three of the aforementioned sides — the latest round of games features an entirely different, but just as intriguing, theme.
In a league where winning away games isn’t the easiest thing to do, with home sides usually expected to pick up points, Olympics and Kotoko are bucking the trend. They’ve collected 10 points each on the road — the most of any team before Dwarfs’ victory over Allies — and another good result for either — even if only a stalemate — in their upcoming game would see them overtake the Cape Coasters.
It wouldn’t come easy, though, as Kotoko and Olympics’ strengths on the road are set to be subjected to the sternest tests yet, against two opponents that don’t give away much at home.
Kotoko’s hosts, Karela United, have actually not dropped a single point at their new-look, still formidable Crosby Awuah Memorial Park grounds this season — no other club has been that dominant at home — and it is from there that they have picked 18 of the 22 points that has them atop the log at the moment.
Playing a Kotoko side that is keen to preserve their own record as the only team not to have lost an away game — and which is coached by a former Karela trainer, no less — the Nzema-based club would have to dig deeper into their reserves to keep their winning run on that pristine pitch going. A draw, I suspect, would bring greater joy to the visitors, even if it wouldn’t draw them any closer to leaders Karela.
The immediate threat to Karela’s leadership, should they fail to beat Kotoko, lies in the Ahafo Region, where the winner of the Bechem United-Olympics game will leapfrog them. Bechem haven’t been as ruthless as Karela in slaying opponents at home — two draws from six games — but they also remain perfect (zero losses), even if not in an absolute sense.
Olympics boast numbers that suggest they could be the team to erase that measure of perfection, as they – along with Dwarfs – have won the most away games in the league this term. But those numbers, broken down, aren’t as impressive as they appear: all three wins have come at the Accra Sports Stadium, against teams that share use of that facility with Olympics themselves.
The Dade Boys haven’t won a game outside Accra, drawing one and losing two, but they’d still fancy their chances of pulling off a result in Bechem that could help transform their ambitions into something beyond their fans’ wildest dreams. They are, after all, on a roll, having already beaten the biggest teams in the land and without a loss in their last four games.
The game in Aiyinase — rich and thick with sub-plots, with Kotoko even capable of building nearly an entire four-man back-line of Karela old boys — should prove the more captivating contest, however, with plenty on offer there: pride, points, and possibly more.
Enn Y. Frimpong — Ink & Kicks