The 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season has thrown up some spicy high-scoring games, but Friday’s gallery of goals at the Accra Sports Stadium played out in its own strange way.
Watching Legon Cities wipe the floor with one of the best teams in the division, Ashantigold, felt like watching a different side from the one that had stumbled through their first nine games of the campaign. Bashir Hayford’s charges came back, from a goal down, to win 5-2 — incredible, for a team that had only scored four goals, three of them from penalties, before the Miners came to town.
And there were some good goals, too, with Nasiru Moro’s scorching hit from distance — leveling Yaw Annor’s opener — and Jonah Attuquaye’s drilled finish – through Ashgold goalkeeper Felix Clottey’s near-post just before recess, in response to another goal from the impressive Annor – the picks of the bunch.
The second half brought a proper exhibition of attacking verve, one Cities haven’t seemed capable of thus far this term. They played with swagger and style to match the portrait of glamour painted at great expense off the field.
Baba Mahama was spectacular, and deservedly awarded Man of the Match (for the third time this season). The former Asante Kotoko man fired in a decent goal himself, before setting up one of David Cudjoe’s two strikes with a sweet little back-heel.
Hayford, who led Ashgold to their last league title, was a happy man at full time, needless to say. Cities’ struggles upfront, which he inherited from predecessor Goran Barjaktarević, had long frustrated him, but the work put in on the training ground has finally yielded bountifully: four different scorers, none of them a striker.
Actually, Cities lined up without one, an experiment that Hayford has tried in recent games but with far less success.
“I have converted the midfielders to strike for me and they are doing it very well,” he said in the pitch-side post-match interview.
“When we started, it was not working but now it is working. It means they are learning, because I told them that goal-scoring is not about a striker; goal-scoring is about the one who is closer to the posts.”
That approach, inspiring this newfound gusto and productivity upfront, is surely the way to go. Cities’ strikers — including the most high-profile, Ghana legend Asamoah Gyan — have underwhelmed and, until they sort themselves out, Hayford would take goals from wherever he can get them.
Right now, he’s getting them from everywhere.
Enn Y. Frimpong — Ink & Kicks