We knew Inter Allies had been an absolute shambles in the just-ended Ghana Premier League campaign, condemned to relegation long before the season even ended, but the note on which they said their final goodbye after an eight-year stay was still scarcely believable.
And it was quite curious, too, the manner in which they conceded goal after goal — all seven of them — against Ashanti Gold last Saturday. Even in a season that has had no shortage of high-scoring games, Allies’ defeat in Obuasi didn’t fail to raise eyebrows.
Far too meekly Allies capitulated, producing some shockingly bad defending (correct me if I’m wrong, but, were they playing with a goalkeeper?) that helped their hosts put five “great” goals past them after 77 minutes.
But just when it looked as though Ashgold had scored enough and Allies were due a goal of their own, one player who was clearly not reading from ‘the script’ ripped it all up.
Centre-back Hashmin Musah had been brought on at the start of the second half by the Allies bench, ostensibly to help stem the tide, with Ashgold already in a three-goal lead; instead, he just decided, bizarrely, to run up the score.
“I heard it in camp that our match against Ashgold was a fixed match and the scoreline was 5-1 against Inter Allies, so I decided to spoil the bet, because I don’t condone betting,” Musah told Kumasi FM after the game.
“After they scored the first five goals, Ashanti Gold were relaxed and not tackling us, hence I decided to score an own goal and make sure the bet doesn’t go through.”
Now, of course, there is very little pride in scoring an own goal in any game — let alone two, just four minutes apart, as Musah went on to do — but it seemed the 24-year-old was feeling quite alright as he walked off the pitch, subbed again, shortly after the second of his [very deliberate] strikes.
Apparently, though, Musah wasn’t the only one pleased with how he had conducted himself. He was, it turns out, a man on a mission — one which he executed to the satisfaction of those who drafted him for the task.
“I promised my coach that if he allowed me to play from the bench, I will spoil the bet. After the game, the technical team congratulated me,” he claimed.
The reason that informed Musah’s actions might have been religious and largely personal — “I am a Muslim and I don’t support betting,” he explained — but, whatever his motive, congratulations might just be in order… and not only from his coaches.
Match-fixing — or, rather, suspicions of such — has plagued the domestic game for years, especially at the business end of the season, when each point gained and goal scored is worth a little more than usual.
That was already a problem in and of itself — as Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ 2018 exposé highlighted so vividly — but the not-so-recent introduction of sports betting into the equation has created an explosive cocktail that threatens to blow up what is left of the game’s already tattered integrity.
Attempts to manipulate the results of matches are no longer just about helping a desperate team achieve its targets — win the league? Survive relegation? Or advance in cup competitions — but also about lining the pockets of certain greedy individuals, be they players, officials, or fans.
It’s a slap in the face of all who invest sincere effort and passion into making our football the spectacle it can be on the best of days — footballers who play their hearts out, coaches who sacrifice hours of sleep to fine-tune their matchday plans, supporters who flock to stadia to fill stands, media personnel that go to great lengths to cover games, etc. — and if it would take an own goal (or two) to [literally] upset the odds and best-laid schemes of these criminals, well, so be it.
Should Musah’s allegations be confirmed — and, without prejudice to the Ghana Football Association’s investigations, there is a good chance that they might — posterity could remember him, not as a villain, but as a true hero of this crusade that, admittedly, is far from over.
Yaw Frimpong — Ink & Kicks