The 2021/22 Ghana Premier League commenced this weekend with interesting results recorded on the opening matchday.
Champions Hearts of Oak drew at home a day after sworn rivals Asante Kotoko had beaten Dreams FC in a thrilling encounter, Medeama were humbled in Bechem while Goldstars thrilled the people of Bibiani.
Here are five talking points from the weekend.
UNLUCKY HEARTS OF OAK IN ACCRA
Simply put Hearts of Oak were unlucky on Sunday. They played well, created several chances but failed to convert as they drew 0-0 with Legon Cities.
In the first half, the ball was cleared off the line twice and Eric Ofori Antwi made two outstanding saves. After the break, Salifu Ibrahim came close as his curler hit the crossbar.
Legon Cities’ game plan was to sit deep, but even that the Phobians carved them open on numerous occasions. The three-man attack of Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Kofi Kordzi and Isaac Mensah were relentless with Ibrahim Salifu giving them the needed supply.
The draw feels like a defeat because their performance deserved three points, but they can draw a lot of positives. On any other day and Hearts would have won this game
KOTOKO CAN PROSPER
Kotoko endured a painful end to last season, losing the league title to Hearts of Oak and suffering quarter-final exit in the MTN FA Cup.
Due to that, management made changes to the team, replacing Mariano Barreto with Dr Prosper Narteh Ogum, parting ways with many players including Emmanuel Gyamfi and Habib Mohammed, and signing 16 players. The changes raised expectations, but their winless run in Dubai against second-tier teams left their fans in doubt.
However, Kotoko showed on Saturday against Dreams that they can win the title this term. They won in sensational fashion, scoring three late goals to beat Dreams 3-1.
As at the 85th minute, Kotoko were trailing with Dreams destined to cause a massive upset. But Narteh’s substitutes worked magic. Isaac Oppong, who is referred to as ‘Sunyani Neymar’, led the way by assisting two and scoring a goal for himself.
A real test of their character as the Porcupines passed with flying colours.
On the opening weekend of the season, new boys Bibiani Goldstars, Accra Lions and Real Tamale United didn’t disappoint their fans.
All three played at home and didn’t lose.
Accra Lions were the first to play, hosting Elmina Sharks on Friday evening. They conceded first but fought back to drew 1-1. Striker Rauf Salifu, who scored 21 goals in Division One, netted the equaliser.
On Sunday afternoon, Goldstars stunned former champions, Berekum Chelsea, 1-0 Bibiani amid a carnival atmosphere.
In the evening, Real Tamale United, the most experienced among the three, also drew 1-1. New signing David Abagna kept his cool and scored a late penalty to cancel out Raymond Oko Grippman’s first-half strike for Great Olympics.
As one of the favourites, Medeama were expected to start well. But instead, they were thrashed 4-0 by Bechem United at the Nana Gyeabour Park.
Bechem dominated and converted their chances. New striker Emmanuel Avornyo stole the show with a brace, Francis Twene was on target, as well as returnee attacking midfielder Augustine Okrah.
The heated contest saw both teams lose a man.
An absolutely shocking performance by Medeama in what was Ignatius Osei Fosu’s first competitive match. They must react positively in their subsequent games.
CAN BECHEM GO ALL THE WAY THIS TIME?
It’s just one game into the season, but Bechem have brought back memories of their impressive start last season.
After seven games in 2020/21 campaign, the Hunters sat top of the table. They, however, lost their mojo and ended the season just one point above the relegation zone.
A new season and they are up and running, thrashing Medeama to go top. But can they remain there or even finish in the top half? It would be difficult but the team looks good.
The youngsters are hungry for success and with the inclusion of experienced names such as Augustine Okrah, fans can be hopeful.