As Leicester’s fairytale ride to being English champions
looks increasingly likely to culminate in success, they’d have good
reason to count on Ghanaian support
As the Premier League title race tightens, most Ghanaian fans may
appear somewhat disinterested, given that their favourite clubs — the
Manchester Uniteds, Chelseas, Liverpools, Manchester Citys and
Arsenals — are as far off from landing that coveted piece of
silverware this term as is realistically possible. As it turns out,
the two clubs with the brightest shots at being crowned champions in
May, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, don’t really have huge
fanbases in these parts.
So, then, which of the two, should push come to shove, would you root for?
Well, for me, Leicester are my choice, and the club’s blue shirt —
granted I could even find one to purchase in Accra — is what I’d wish
to wear over my red Liverpool jersey and, no, not begrudgingly. If
there’s any hope of joy for Ghanaian followers of the Premier League,
the Foxes are the best bet to deliver it. The Ayew brothers, Andre and
Jordan, are battling the drop at the foot of the league table with
Swansea and Aston Villa respectively, although the latter is clearly
worse off. Over at Chelsea, a club surprisingly only a few feet higher
on the table, Baba Rahman continues to struggle in working his way up
the Blues’ pecking order as a left-back.
The pair of Ghanaian footballers at the King Power Stadium, however,
could hardly complain about their lot. For Jeffrey Schlupp and Daniel
Amartey, the season is set to be decorated in a wreath of barely
anticipated glory. Their club leads the 20-team pack with a five-point
advantage, and the fixture list is only seven games-long at this
advanced stage. Indeed, Leicester seem to be having it so good that
even manager Claudio Ranieri — a man who has been derided for failing
to make any significant impact when handed the reins at some of
Europe’s best-resourced, most glamorous clubs — couldn’t help but
finally share the increasingly popular belief that his club could
really, really pull this off, after having maintained a cautious
stance for much of the campaign.
“Sometimes I’ve said we are at the last turn and now we are on the
final, home straight,” the Italian expressed proudly after Saturday’s
potentially crucial win away at Selhurst Park.
“Now,” he added, but not without a hint of drama in his tone, “I want
to see my horses, how they run.”
Schlupp and Amartey, needless to say, haven’t been the most glamorous
of those horses in Ranieri’s stables during Leicester’s surreal gallop
to the top. The former had been an undisputed starter, but only till
injury in December 2015 set him on the long, winding road to
recovery. Amartey has enjoyed the experience far less, though, having
been around only since his winter move from FC Copenhagen and is still
warming his way into the hearts of Ranieri and Leicester fans. But, of
course, these individual challenges wouldn’t make Premier League
winners’ medals — which seem so very much within touching distance
now, in fact — any less valuable to win. The likes of N’Golo Kante,
Jamie Vardy, Daniel Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez may be claiming all
the plaudits and would almost certainly be hailed as the ones who
perhaps pushed hardest to bring Leicester’s wildest dreams to
fruition, but men like Amartey and Schlupp would be remembered for
their own relatively minor roles, too.
And, boy, would people this side of the Atlantic be rocking when those
two become the only Ghanaians, after Michael Essein, to conquer the best league in the world.