If there’s a lesson from Greek mythology that can never be taken for granted, it is the one that advises against flying too close to the sun.
Icarus, son of Daedalus, was on a path to greatness before his hare-brained decision to disregard that very warning.
Even for a young man blessed with erudite abilities and carefully crafted wings, giddiness got the better of Icarus, leading to his premature death and consequently landing him on the wrong side of history — a cautionary tale for posterity.
With the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season gradually reaching its business end, and teams homing in on their targets, parallels could be drawn between Icarus and top-flight club Liberty Professionals.
This is a team that used to be everyone’s second favourite in the country. Regardless of whichever ‘traditional’ heavyweight you supported — Accra Hearts of Oak? Asante Kotoko? Or Ashanti Gold? — there was still a place in your heart for Liberty and their brilliance.
Liberty, however, have retrogressed, and aren’t so attractive these days. Previously reputed as a hub for talent discovery, youth development, and perennial ‘top four’ contenders, Liberty are now more known for regularly battling relegation.
And they have often won those battles only narrowly, leaving it agonisingly late: in four seasons, they were only two (2013-14), three (2015), one (2016), and four points (2017), respectively, away from going down.
Performances and, more importantly, results have simply not been good enough, and it is increasingly looking like a similar story could transpire this term. Liberty are currently languishing among the bottom three, 16th on the table, after winning just two of their last 12 league matches.
The Scientific Soccer Lads were terrible in the first round, garnering a paltry 15 points from 17 games and, while a case can be made for the rebuilding that is currently ongoing at the club, the decline has been as surprising as it has been steep.
This may be a new team with players now settling in and finding their feet, but Liberty should be doing far better than they currently are, and the risk of getting demoted will be quite real if the form doesn’t improve.
But if fans were seeking rays of hope, well, Liberty’s latest league outing, against Elmina Sharks, offered some. Despite hosting Sharks at a venue — the ‘notorious’ WAFA Park, where Liberty suffered their heaviest loss of the campaign — quite far from their own Carl Reindorf Park home, David Ocloo’s team excelled, winning 4-0.
This was undoubtedly Liberty’s finest display of the season, a reminder of what they once were and could yet be. They were assured in possession, proactive to all threats posed by Sharks, and equally sharp in attack.
All four goals — scored by Paul Kwame, Simon Appiah, Kweku Karikari and William Mensah — were also well-taken, characteristic of a team that is ready to compete and to challenge and to survive.
This, hopefully, isn’t a one-off, and Liberty would want to apply themselves more consistently to keep the run — and the fight — going.
Should they fail to, then, just like Icarus — albeit for different reasons — the Dansoman-based club that has been flying too close to the sun in recent seasons might get burnt this time.
Emmanuel Ayamga — Ink & Kicks