HOME SWEET HOME: TOP-OF-THE-LEAGUE KARELA ARE BACK ENJOYING FAMILIAR COMFORTS
There was something quite off about Karela United last season, and it wasn’t very difficult to detect.
Coming into the Ghana Premier League for the first time, in 2018, Karela banked much of their hopes of survival on their home form, having gone a great many games at the Crosby Awuah Memorial (CAM) Park without defeat.
Halfway into that maiden season, though, Karela were doing much better than merely surviving. They were, in fact, third on the table, only two points off the top and with a good chance of emulating Aduana Stars’ distinguished feat of winning the league as a newly promoted side.
That chance was denied them, however, by a corruption exposé that ripped up the campaign, but Karela picked up where they left off a year later by reaching the final of the Normalization Committee Special Competition (Tier 1).
Through it all, Karela’s greatest gains came at the CAM Park, and as they entered the 2019/20 league season, the Aiyinase-based side must have fantasized about what could be possible if they remained solid at home.
‘Home’, though, had taken on a whole new, unfamiliar identity. A renovation of the CAM Park forced Karela to seek shelter elsewhere in the Western Region. There, at Tarkwa’s Akoon Park, they shared temporary tenancy with a Medeama side which — though still based in their hometown — had also relocated from their own permanent residence for the same reasons as Karela.
But life at the Akoon Park wasn’t as kind to Karela – refer to the outset — as it proved for Medeama. Karela won just two of eight games there — only one team, King Faisal, won fewer (0) — and, plagued by an unsurprisingly poor run on the road, found themselves deep in the relegation mix.
Then came the season’s premature termination (triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic), a savior this time, and Karela hit the reset button once more. Even better, that would also mark the end of the doomed, temporary stay at their adopted grounds. This season, Karela are right at home — literally — and, oh, what a home they now have!
They returned to a better, brighter, greener CAM Park and have since made the most of it. Karela played their fifth game there on Sunday and thumped visiting Berekum Chelsea 4-1, establishing themselves as the only team with a perfect home record this term.
It’s there that they’ve bagged 15 of their 17 points, without which they’d be farther down the table. Instead, Karela are top, and the feeling — should this season, unlike their first two in the top-flight, go all the way — is that Karela could indeed match Aduana’s achievement, even if not exactly on the ‘first’ attempt.