By: Sheikh Tophic Sienu @desheikh1
Following the pre-season preparations and the open day matches of all the 16 Premier League Clubs and taking into consideration their home invincibility, the nature of their pitches, the philosophy of the clubs, the strength of their technical team as well as the signings they made, GHANAsoccernet.com’s Sheikh Tophic Sienu makes a projection of what to expect as the league finally zooms into action.
This is a predictive write-up that demonstrates the position of each club at the end of the season. Of course so many things happen in football especially when a league or a tournament is at the infant stages.
The pundits of the game have categorized teams that appear at every major tournament or league into three; title contenders, underdogs and the disappointers. But in the instance of the league, we shall have the title contenders, mid-table clubs and the relegation clubs.
Surely at the end of the league we will have clubs that will surprise many and those that will disappoint their fans and the bookmakers.
WAFA’s complete dominance of Kumasi Asante Kotoko on Saturday is an example of the underdogs in the league that will shock many teams. The point must however be made that any team, apart from Inter Allies, that plays WAFA at the Red Bull Arena must be ready for a shocking result. The secret is the Astroturf. You can only survive there if and only if you are used to its mechanizations.
Let me categorize all the 16 clubs under the headings noted earlier before the league sparks into full force.
Based on the factors mentioned in paragraph one above, the following clubs shall surely battle for the title this season: Aduana Stars, Asante Kotoko, Hearts of Oak, Ashantigold and Medeama SC.
The mid-table clubs, as it happened last season shall always have Inter Allies, Berekum Chelsea, Liberty Professionals, WAFA and Wa All Stars.
The main battle will be at this point where all the clubs that fall withing this category will battle it out to disappear from the invisible claws of relegation.
Sekondi Hasaacas, Techiman City, New Edubiase Utd, Bechem United, Ebusua Dwarfs and Dreams FC.
I only hope that I will not be called names after this publication as has been the practice of late. But the truth is that, this is my thinking after taking all factors into consideration. You may disagree with me which is acceptable. But if you do, nothing stops you from making your own projections.
However, mention must be made that some of the teams will not be able to live within their categories and will switch their positions as the league gathers momentum.
Below is my projected league table at the end of the season and I will explain why:
- Aduana Stars
- Asante Kotoko
- Hearts of Oak
- Medeama SC
- Berekum Chelsea
- Inter Allies
- Liberty Professionals
- Wa All Stars
- Techiman City
- New Edubiase Utd
- Bechem United
- Ebusua Dwarfs
- Dreams Fc
- Aduana Stars
Aduana Stars have shown promise of winning the league taking into consideration the following factors; their pre-season preparations, their signings, their venue and the nature of their field and well as the motivation given to the players.
After unsuccessfully fighting for the league title last season, the Ogya Boys have strengthened their side with the arrival of veterans Yaya Mohammed and Richard Mpong as well as signing two best players from their clubs, Zakaria Mumuni from WAFA and Noah Martey from Bechem United.
Apart from these signings, the side has had a very smooth run in the pre-season losing their only game to Asante Kotoko in the FirsTrust G6 Tournament.
The home ground of Aduana Stars has always been a scary ground for many clubs and it is not surprising. Many clubs feel intimidated by the fans’ love and passion for the game and for that matter the club.
The nature of the field of the Dormaa Park will surely be a great factor in ensuring that Aduana Stars goes unbeaten at home this season. If WAFA and Inter Allies will have the luxury of enjoying the use of the Astroturf, then Aduana Stars will also enjoy using the brown natural pitch which will surely pose a problem for visitors.
If Aduana Stars will go unbeaten at home just like they did in 2010, then a few wins away will win them the coveted league title once again.
Aduana Stars is obviously my pick for the league title this season.
- Kumasi Asante Kotoko
The Fabulous boys might have started the league on a very bad note with the defeat at the hands of WAFA, but I trust the technical team led by David Duncan to steer the team up to the second position this season. However, if Aduana Stars falters, trust the Porcupine Warriors to emerge league champions.
Every good follower of the game will perhaps sympathise with David Duncan following the tall list of injured players who could not make it in the opening game. Jackson Owusu, Dauda Mohammed and Theophilus Nyame had been the main drivers of the team but injuries have rocked their opening game appearance. Kwame Boateng is also nursing an injury and Felix Annan has also joined after sustaining a knee injury in their opener with WAFA.
The home ground of Kotoko, the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, will be one of the negative factors that may not help the Reds to the league title. I am not talking from the spiritual rhelm as many have already posited, but the nature of the pitch and the security the stadium provides makes it appear a neutral grounds for every serious club.
If Kotoko will have all their forces available for the league, then obviously they would be in for the kill but their current situation surely places them behind Aduana Stars.
- Accra Hearts of Oak
After the FirsTrust G6 Tournament, many wrote off the Phobians from gunning for the title but after monitoring their progress from their trainings and matches played afterwards, I am convinced that the Rainbow Boys will shoot into full time action when the league travels beyond three matches.
Hearts of Oak just like Kotoko will also not enjoy the advantage of playing at the Nation’s Wembley since all the factors favour any team that plays there.
The neutrality of the venue does not give any advantage to the Phobians as will be enjoyed by clubs like Berekum Chelsea, WAFA, Aduana Stars or Wa All Stars.
The strategic recruitment of the Phobians will be a positive discovery for the club as head Coach ‘King’ Kenichi Yatsuhashi appeared set for their open day clash with New Edubiase. It was not amazing to see the Japanese steer the Phobians to a solitary win over their nemesis New Edubiase.
Even though the Phobians are not favourites as penned by the bookmakers, I see them making huge strides after playing three league matches. My prediction is that if the Phobians fare very well in their opening three matches, then obviously the league title may be coming to Accra after seven years of absence.
- AshantiGold SC
One team that will shock many people this season with a below par performance is defending champions AshantiGold SC. Many would expect that they should be able to maintain their 2015 exploits to the extent of defending the league title but the Champions League will be a great demerit to the title ambitions of the Miners.
It will be a blessing if the Miners are kicked out of the CAF Champions League and an early stage than for them to advance to the group stage. The Aboakese lads will have total concentration on their title defense if they are kicked out of the CAF CL early or they forget about the local league title.
They need to choose between the two titles, either the CAF CL or the GPL. If they want the CAF CL, then the local league title must be surrendered or vice versa. If care is not taken and the miners eye both competitions, with the current financial challenges of the club, both titles may elude them.
May people will therefore be shocked to see the Miners at the fourth position on the log surrendering their league title to a different club.
- Medeama SC
Medeama SC have suddenly become a force to reckon with taking into consideration the quality of their set up and their FA Cup title triumph last season.
This is a side that has always boasted of experienced players like Kwame Boahene, Malik Akowua, Muntari Tagoe and Victor Ayire but have done little to show that they want the Ghana League title.
Bringing on board Bernard Ofori from New Edubiase must however send signals to the ardent followers and lovers of the GPL that perhaps the Tarkwa-based side is in for the challenge this time around.
Their participation in Africa sends signals to me that the league title is not a priority for them. Remember the last time they participated in the Confederations Cup, they fought extra hard to escape claws of the relegation.
I will be shocked, however, if Medeama is able to move up the league table above the 4th position.
- Berekum Chelsea
If there is any team that transferred many players before the start of the 2014/15 Ghana Premier League, it is Berekum Chelsea. They transferred 19 players and replaced them with inexperienced and unknown players but their exploits in the league gave no indication of their loss in the transfer market.
However, it appears the Berekum-based side is eyeing something bigger than what they had last season.
Bringing on board experienced players like Saddiq Adams, former skipper Sadat Mohammed and former midfielder Prince Bobby, one needs no telling that Berekum Chelsea are in for business.
The technical competence of Coach Solomon Odwo which steered them to fourth place finish last season is still assured and the Blues will surely be great decision makers in deciding who wins the title.
A fifth place finish this season will no surprise me at all.
- Inter Allies
The league title has always not been a priority of Inter Allies as they clearly demonstrate in their marketing and commercial philosophy. Business is the subject of the day for Inter Allies. Their major objective therefore is surviving in the league to do a successful business.
They are the only side that sold ten of their regular players from their previous season’s squad.
I will not be taken aback at all if Evans Mensah, Isaac Twum and Mensah Ropapa also say goodbye to the shores of Ghana after the season.
Recording the least number of goals after last season’s competition, many thought that Inter Allies could be in the top four after the season but they surrendered the position to Berekum Chelseas.
Maintaining their mid-table position has always been the major target of Inter Allies and I will not be surprised seeing them there.
- Liberty Professionals
It must be noted at this juncture that clubs from the 6th position to the 10th placed team on my table are termed ‘Business Clubs’. Yes they are business minded instead of chasing the title. And for obvious reasons, their managerial styles talk a lot about what they stand for.
Liberty Professionals, the only ‘Professional’ club among our 16 clubs have been in the Ghana Premier League for such a long time but the best they have come is the 2nd position.
After producing great talents and stars such as Micheal Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah and Asamoah Gyan for the senior national team, many would have expected the Dansoman-based side to have at least 5 local league titles in their trophy cabinet but that is not the case.
Liberty maintaining their mid-table status is something that is as clears as crystal and it will be a shocker if they should move below the 8th position.
- Wa All Stars
Another business-minded club is Wa All Stars. Despite their strength at home in Wa, they have still now won the league. Aren’t you surprised? Aduana Stars walked into the league in 2009 and won the league in 2010. Berekum Chelsea too won it in 2012 and that indicates that if Wa All Stars and the other mid-table teams had wanted to win the league, they could have done so long before now.
The attacking strength of Wa All Stars will always be in the news as Maxwell Baako will soon enjoy the partnership of deadly former Asokwa Deportivo striker Joel Fameyeh. Baako registered a brace and provided an assist for the third goal in their first game against Hasaacas at Wa. Should Joel join him in attack in the coming matches, defenders will surely struggle to contain them.
Expect Wa All Stars to maintain their position at the middle of the table.
No relegation. No title.
WAFA was the club that surprised many in the league last season with their beautiful touches and telepathic display of football.
Having a youthful side full of energy, the Sogakope side have shown promise of causing an upset in the league with their surprise 2-0 victory over Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The only disadvantage for the academy boys is their Astroturf. They are accustomed to the pitch such that any side that visits them must combat to settle for a draw.
However, apart from the Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Sekiondi, anywhere that WAFA plays with also be a disaster for them as the nature of some of our fields will make football hard for them to play.
As a result, they will dwell much on their home strength to settle for the 10th spot on the table. We must know that the way WAFA will play at Sogakope will not be the same as their play at the Golden City Park.
- Sekondi Hasaacas
Sekondi Hasaacas started very well last season but flattered to deceive when the league was getting to the end. The plight of the team has compelled management to make strategic signings including bringing Eric Bekoe and Papa Arko to compliment the efforts of Samuel Afful and Salie Babawo.
They had a poor start at Wa, but trust me, the side will warm into the league at the appropriate time. And if they do, I will not surprised if they settle for a better position from the 11th I have predicted. But for now, I trust Hasaacas may finish the league at the 11th position.
- Techiman City FC
Out of the three promoted Division One clubs, it appears that Techiman City is the only side that will be able to survive the drop this season. I fear for Dreams FC and Dwarfs.
The honest truth is that Techiman City will enjoy the luxury of playing at the Nana Ametaw Park at full strength while Dreams FC and Dwarfs will play at home as neutral grounds. I hope you understand me?
The 1-0 win stolen by Dreams FC at the Robert Mensah Stadium indicates that Dwarfs do not have total dominance at the center while the green pitch at the Theater of Dreams makes it comforting for every visiting club.
Techiman City will just be a replica of Aduana Stars when they entered the league for the first time in 2009 and I foresee the side winning all their matches in Techiman.
12th position will not be pleasing for Micky Charles but the luxury of enjoying Premier League football will be alright for a new comer.
- New Edubiase United
One club that has battled relegation for the past three seasons is New Edubiase United and it appears they will battle the drop again. They will have a relief though if my table churns out to be the final. 13 place finish will not be bad for a side that hardly enjoyed any structured pre-season preparation, indebted to players and the technical staff and playing home away from home.
It appears the financial predicaments of New Edubiase are different from the other clubs. Hope you heard that their President Abdul Salam Yakubu has hinted that they will boycott the league if there is no sponsorship after three matches? Well, maybe they want to avoid further embarrassment.
New Edubiase settling for the 13th position is obviously what I foresee and will be surprised if they are seen anywhere on the table better than the 13th position at the end of the season.
- Bechem United
One of the clubs that had to fight against relegation last season was Bechem United and it appears they are still in that category this season as well. After transferring their goal machine Augustine Okrah after the 2013/14 season, the attacking prowess lost it’s electrifying status and that really made the 2014/15 season a difficult season for the Bechem side.
The side will however be hoping that the transfer of their best player last season, Noah Martey will not end up depleteing the team as Okrah’s absence did. Noah was the highest scorer of the side after bagging 10 goals as a midfielder and won the hearts of many as the next big thing for the side.
The absence of Nah Martey will surely affect the Bechem side and despite their first win over Liberty at home, it does not look promising for Bechem United as they look set to finishing 14th at the end of the season.
However, they can switch their slot with New Edubiase if the bekwai-based side fails to reorganize themselves well.
- Ebusua Dwarfs
It appears relegation and Ebusua Dwarfs are bedfellows as they appear not properly prepared for the season. After just a year in the Division One League, Coach J.E. Sarpong has industriously succeeded in getting the Cape Coast side into the league.
Their open day loss at home to Dreams FC appears convincing enough that all is not well for the Green and Yellows.
Reports from their camp indicate that the players are chasing the club for some outstanding salaries which appear to demotivate the players in their quest to cement their Premier League status.
The nature of the league this season is such that any loss is detrimental to a team’s objective and becomes suicidal when it is suffered at home.
It’s sad but Ebusua Dwarfs may go back to relegation.
- Dreams FC
Many will love the flamboyance of Dreams FC in the league but I see them going back to the Division One League despite their open day surprise victory over Ebusua Dwarfs at home.
Mention must be made that Dreams FC were the only side that recorded an away victory but the nature of the Ghanaian league is such that it takes experience and home security to sustain the Premier League status or win the league title.
The honest truth is that, Dreams FC will be playing at the Theater of Dreams as a neutral ground because of the good nature of their field. When that happens, every team that visits has equal access to play good football and cause an upset if possible.
Of course the support from the people of Dawu and it’s surrounding towns will do Dreams FC a lot of good but today’s football relies much on what the team will do on the field of play and not what the fans will do.
The days of Adansiman and Neoplan Stars are over. The field is now doing the talking. That is why teams like Inter Allies, WAFA, Aduana Stars, Wa All Stars, Berekum Chelsea and Bechem United have a great advantage playing at home because of their familiarity with their field.
Surely, teams like Sekondi Hasaacas, Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak will have challenges playing at home because of the nature of their pitches, and Dreams FC will not escape such challenges.
If you want to know how important the pitch is to the success of a team, remember when Chelsea had to water their field to be able to beat Barcelona some time ago.
Despite Dreams FC’s stylish start, am scared they may not survive.
Readers, I am not the god of football in this country but this obviously is my opinion. You are bound to agree or disagree. These are mere predictions that seek to let each team know its strengths and weaknesses. Any team that takes this write-up serious may end in a better position than what is written here.
GOOD LUCK to all the 16 clubs.
THIS IS THE GPL!!!