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Why Hearts of Oak’s Title Charge Might Crumble In The End

Heartt Of Oak

t has so far been an exciting Ghana premier League season and with seven match days to go, we are witnessing one of the tightest title races in Premier League history. Currently, Wa All Stars lead the standings but are just two points ahead of Hearts of Oak, who last won the title in 2009. 2010 champions Aduana Stars are a further two points back in third, with former champions Asante Kotoko in fourth and five points adrift of top spot. With Dreams FC and Medeama SC also lurking, it is mathematically possible for any of these six teams to win the title.


Truth be told, inconsistency has been a major reason why none of the aforementioned teams have been able to widen the gap from the others. Take Hearts of Oak for instance. Under Kenichi Yatsuhashi, the players, by dint of an intensely physical training regime, looked fit with every game and that was a major reason why the team did not lose an away match until recently. I have already argued that it made no football sense for the Hearts of Oak hierarchy to part ways with the Japanese-American coach. Sergio Traguil took over and gradually, the players’ fitness levels have dropped alarmingly. As a result, one or two players were not match fit for the game against WAFA in Sogakope and the Phobians were 3-0 down by half time. Crucially, this was a result that knocked Hearts of Oak off top spot. Historically Hearts of Oak will stay top when the club gets there but it looks dicey now, even with a game in Accra against Techiman City to come.


Asante Kotoko’s problems date back to last season when Mas-Ud Dramani was sacked. This was a man who had won two league titles and the FA Cup for the club and yet, because of an average start in seven games, was let go by the club. That decision was a major reason why the Porcupine Warriors relinquished the title last term. Unfortunately, the powers that be at the club never seem to learn and David Duncan was also let go after a relatively poor start to the season. Michael Osei, who was the assistant coach, was suddenly thrust into the limelight as interim head coach and after an initial promising start, he is slowly being exposed tactically and until the 1-0 win over Dreams FC on Sunday, the club had failed to win in any of its last four games. Although mathematically, Asante Kotoko has a chance of regaining the title, I am not so sure that they can make it. The game against Liberty Professionals in Accra will be tough and if the Porcupine Warriors stand any chance of winning the title, nothing less than victory against Liberty Professionals will suffice.


Aduana Stars won the 2010 title after scoring only 19 goals in 30 games. This time around, the Dormaa based clubhas so far scored the most goals in the Ghana Premier League this season (32 goals). With the likes of Bright Adjei and Yahaya Mohammed in good form, Aduana Stars would be aiming to win all its home games to stay in title contention. The game against Berekum Chelsea on Saturday is a must win game for the hosts.
Wa All Stars may have lost Stephen Nyarko to Asante Kotoko, but have found a ready replacement in Richard Arthur. The team plays very good football and would be looking to land its first ever league title. Beating Hearts of Oak in Accra in the first round would have boosted the players’ confidence and what would be required is some good away results. A tricky test against a resurgent Dwarfs in Cape Coast awaits Wa All Stars on Saturday and perhaps a point might be enough for maintain the title challenge, but you get the sense that Wa All Stars would be going for all three points.


Dreams FC has undisputedly been the standout club amongst the newly promoted sides and the Dawu-based club is well on its way to at least securing its Premier League status. Results have been a bit inconsistent but with seven games to go, the club lies in fifth position and will host reigning champions Ashanti Gold on Saturday. A home win could further solidify Dreams FC’s chances of staying in the top flight, even though I believe that the league title will be a bridge too far.


Medeama SC have done well considering the club’s commitments in the CAF Confederations Cup. The Yellow and Mauves had an opportunity to climb to the top of the standings after having two games in hand, but both games were lost. The likes of Akwasi Donsu would have to lift up their game if Medeama SC is to climb up the table.
Ever since University lecturer Prosper Nartey took over as head coach, Dwarfs have been revitalized. A few weeks ago you would have picked them as sure candidates for the drop, but a series of good results, particularly the 4-1 hammering of Asante Kotoko has lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone. A good result against Wa All Stars should continue the revival.


Ashanti Gold have been the draw specialists this term, with not less than 14 draws. Had 10 of those draws been turned into wins, the Miners would be leading the pack, but as it is, they will lose the title at the end of the season unless the club wins all its remaining games and other results go their way.
New Edubiase United look like certainties for the drop and unless the last seven games are won, a return to Division


One is very much on the cards. The club is currently five points off safety and every point will count from now on.
It should be a very interesting climax to this season, with the title and relegation spots yet to be decided.


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