GPL Review: After only eight games, Hearts, Kotoko already losing title race
Matchday eight recorded some shocking results from the various league centres, with the likes of Hearts, Kotoko and WAFA all enduring miserable outings after failing to pick up maximum points against Karela United, Berekum Chelsea and AshantiGold respectively.
Though there’s one game to play – Liberty v Dreams on Thursday – we take a look at five of the major talking points so far.
Inconsistent Hearts, Kotoko losing grip on title race
For the fourth year running, both Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko appear to have lost their might in deciding where the Ghana Premier League title ends up. Not many may have tipped the aforementioned heavyweights to win the trophy, but at least mounting a charge is certainly within their reach.
However, after eight rounds of matches, none of these two heavyweight clubs can be found in the top four. This is largely because of the inconsistency exhibited by both teams in the current season. Whiles Hearts of Oak has struggled to grind results on a regular basis, Kotoko are never far behind in being flops.
On Wednesday, the Phobians once again fell. This time, 3-1 to Karela United, the newly-promoted side. It was a performance that highlighted the season of the club so far, as they took an early lead only to capitulate when sustaining it was what was needed on the day.
Kotoko’s situation is very much similar, with the Porcupine Warriors also failing to win against Berekum Chelsea despite playing at home. What both clubs have not realized yet is that they are gradually losing grip at the top end of the table and, at this rate, even a top four finish could prove a step too far
The home party for Karela continues
It’s now been an astonishing 69 games since Karela United lost at the Crosby Awuah Memorial Park and the club looks very likely to continue that run in the Ghana Premier League. The Nzema-based club has proved to be tough customers at home, having earned the tag as the GPL’s giant slayers.
Latest to fall victim to Karela’s “home party” is Hearts of Oak, who were slain by a William Opoku Mensah 18-minute hattrick. It sealed a very famous, yet unsurprising, victory for the hosts as they came from behind to beat the Accra giants.
Despite playing their debut campaign in the GPL, Karela look very comfortable as the occupy second spot. It is a feat that has obviously exceeded expectation, but with their current home form, we could be seeing more surprises. For now, though, the party continues at the Crosby Awuah Memorial Park.
Jubilant fans from Ayiniase called into JoyNews program, ‘The Football Show’ later that evening with accounts of a party atmosphere that started at full time.
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Yatsuhashi’s finger prints finally showing on Inter Allies
Inter Allies staged a fantastic coup when they managed to bring in Kenichi Yatsuhashi as manager during the close window. The Japanese tactician has unfinished business in the Ghana Premier Leaguer after his acrimonious departure from Hearts of Oak.
Taking up the Inter Allies job was obviously a step lower, but deep inside Yatsuhashi knew he had it in his hands to prove that the Phobians lost a valuable treasure when they pushed him out of the door. And indeed, the Tema-based side is beginning to show signs of a team being managed by the former US college trainer.
Following a slow start to the season, which was punctuated by a 6-0 drabbing at the hands of Aduana Stars, Inter Allies have recovered superbly to take their place in the top four. For a club that battled relegation last season, this is a giant stride, especially looking at the limited resources available.
But what Kenichi brings to the table is inspiration, a fitness boost and a believe that is rare for clubs in this part of the world. His improvement of the Inter Allies players has been as telling as his transformation of the club from relegation-battlers to top four contenders. It may have taken a while, but Yatsuhashi is finally getting it right.
AshGold reaffirm title ambitions with draw at WAFA
Top of the table, boast a superior goal difference over their competitors and also have a game in hand – everything seems to be falling into place for AshantiGold at the moment. The Miners have been by far the most consistent side in the GPL this season and rightly occupy top spot.
Having already made light work of Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, the next big test for the Obuasi-based side was to visit the lion’s den in Sogakope to face the ailing WAFA. However, the Miners came out unscathed after earning a hard-fought 1-1 draw at the feared ground of the Academy Boys.
That draw means Ashanti Gold will remain top of the GPL for at least another week, despite holding the same number of points with Karela United (14), who by the way have played a game more. But if Ashanti Gold’s results have been impressive, then their resolve to keep their title charge going is even more admirable. The Miners have clearly demonstrated that they mean business and are not ready to relinquish top spot without a fight.
WAFA still without answers to recent slump
Five matches played, no wins recorded, eight goals conceded and just three goals scored. WAFA have been enduring one of their toughest moments since gaining promotion into the Ghana topflight. Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Ashanti Gold at the Sogakope Park halted an unwanted run of four consecutive losses for the Academy Boys.
This is a clear departure from the vibrant side that blew every side away in the opening weeks of the season and coach Klaus Rasmussen would definitely be having sleepless nights over his team’s recent slump.
WAFA appear to have lost the spark both at home and on the road and need answers really quickly to turn things around. But Wednesday’s drab 1-1 draw with Ashanti Gold highlighted a series of problems that need to be solved.
Having dropped to 11th on the league log – just four points above the relegation zone – the Sogakope-based side could be heading for a further slump if they do not find answers to their recent struggles. And, with another tough fixture away to Ebusua Dwarfs up next, WAFA are in for a truly testing period.
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