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GPL: 5 things we learned from match day 4

From controversial refereeing calls, superb goals to managerial outbursts, whatever you’re looking for in Ghana premier league football, week 4 had it all.

12 goals in 7 games does not exactly represent a prolific weekend in the Ghana Premier League. But the sheer brilliance and significance of those goals cannot be underestimated.

Hearts of Oak are cruising atop the league log, while rivals Kotoko languish in an unfamiliar 14th. Here, Footy-Ghana’s Fentuo Tahiru brings to you 5 talking points from match day 4 of the Ghana Premier League.

Wa All Stars look strong

Now I’m sure someone would say why not Dreams FC here because both teams have similar statistics: unbeaten in their opening 4 games with 2 victories and 2 draws. But Wa All Stars have only conceded 1 goal in the process, while Dreams have shipped in 2. Prior to the start of the 2015/2016 season, Wa All Stars had not won in 10 consecutive away games, with 7 of those ending in defeats. This season however, they remain one of only 3 clubs to still be unbeaten away from home and sit comfortably in second position on the league table. This isn’t a mean achievement for a team that were so quiet in the transfer window. Keeping Richard Ofori for me, was one of the best things Wa All Stars did in the off season. But in retrospect, it’s safe to say All stars were quietly brilliant. The likes of Maxwell Baakoh and Kofi Yeboah have already proven to be good value for All Stars, but just watching Wahidu Mumuni’s brilliant free-kick over again gives me the impression All Stars will be a tough team to beat this season. And with Richard Ofori in post, scoring against them could prove a big challenge.

Duncan is threading on dangerous waters

Let’s face it, 2 points in 4 games is one of the worst starts Kotoko have had to a premier league season. Comparatively, Mas-ud Didi Dramani, Duncan’s predecessor, had a better start than this but by match day 4, people were already calling for his head, just like they’re doing now with David Duncan. By match day 4 last season, Kotoko had 7 points, recovering well to beat BA United and Inter Allies following an opening day defeat to Aduana and a disappointing 2-2 at home to Hasaacas. Duncan has 2 points after 4 games. 2 POINTS. Of course, after that start by Didi, he would go on to pick up just one more point in his next 3 games, which led to his sacking. With games against Hasaacas (Home), Aduana (away) and Liberty (Home) to come, you can’t help but have the feeling that if he fails to win at least two of those games, he will probably be fired.

Aduana Stars are back-sort of

It took 315 minutes before Aduana Stars registered their first goal of the 2015/2016 season. Captain Godfred Saka converted a penalty on the stroke of half time to give the Dormaa-based side their first three points of the season and coach Aristica Cioaba’s first victory on his return to the club. It’s worth noting though, that Aduana Stars are yet to score a goal from open play in 360 minutes. That is 6 hours of football. 6 HOURS. I’m not sure I want to be an Aduana Stars supporter at the moment. 1-0 against WAFA might look unflattering on the face of it, but truth is, that’s how Aduana Stars roll. 1-0 and bam! Game over! Of Aduana Stars’14 victories last season, 11 of them ended 1-0. Can you believe that? Eleven 1-0 scorelines out of 14 victories in all last season. A difficult trip to AshantiGold awaits them, and it’ll be interesting to see how they can build on this victory and get a result against AshantiGold, who themselves desperately need victory in that game.

Bashir Hayford’s sarcasm

AshantiGold coach Bashir Hayford has gained a reputation for himself for being the “Jose Mourinho” of Ghana football when it comes to post-match comments. Hayford’s post-match pressers are often stuff of legends, not afraid to speak his mind, and more often than not likely to engage a journalist in a banter. Last season, he told a journalist he wouldn’t be a journalist if his father took him to Achimota school; to which the journalist responded: ” I went to Nfantsipim, a better school than Achimota.” Great come back by the journo but that certainly sparked a whole new debate on which is the better school: Achimota or Nfantsipim? He also accused referees of rendering coaches “wifeless and hypertensive.”

This season, coach Bash has already given us a few things to ponder. Following AshantiGold’s 0-0 stalemate in midweek in Kumasi, Hayford was asked whether he feels any pressure trying to defend the premier league title. His response was typical.
“There’s pressure everywhere. As you (the journalist) are standing there, if your wife needs a new cloth and you don’t have money to buy for her, there will be pressure on you. Even the fart (flatulence), when it wants to come out, it makes noise (then mimics the sound) which means it’s also feeling the pressure.” Not the kind of answer the journo was looking for.

Following AshantiGold’s 1-1 draw with Hasaacas on match day 4, Bash was questioned on why national team goal keeper Fatau Dauda has yet to feature for the club this season. Hayford was again at his cheekiest best.
“As you stand there, you are a potential CNN journalist, but have they (CNN) called you?” Hayford quipped. It will be interesting how many more witty responses Hayford comes up with in the ensuing games.

Grant’s monitoring raises questions

One of the things that have irritated Ghanaians about the hiring of Avram Grant has been the Israeli trainer’s unwillingness to stay in the country and monitor the local league. In February, he was ordered to come back to the country by the Ghana Football Association to monitor players in the league. He did. His first point of call was at the Tema Stadium to watch Inter Allies vs Dreams FC. Then last weekend, he showed up at the Accra Sports Stadium to watch Hearts of Oak vs Bechem United. Of course, it’s unclear where Grant will take his monitoring exercise next, but the two venues he has monitored so far are within few minutes of each other. Why couldn’t he have travelled outside the Greater Accra Region? The New Edubiase vs Inter Allies game in Obuasi was not short of excitement, never mind it didn’t produce goals. It was a game that involved two clubs with a nick for producing talent. Or why wasn’t he at the Aduana Stars vs WAFA game? A game full of experienced players and some of the most exciting talents the GPL has to offer. Maybe it’s early days yet, but proper monitoring of players in the league would require Grant constantly traveling to match venues outside of the capital region. Until that is done, questions will continue to be raised.

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