It’s becoming more and more difficult for clubs to hold on to MTN FA Cup when they do win it
By: Sammie Frimpong
The [MTN] FA Cup is steadily developing a reputation akin to the Uefa Champions League’s.
Not that it’s nearly as worth winning — the last winner only got to qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup and received no more than GHC30,000 in prize money — but it sure is getting increasingly difficult to defend.
That’s a truth Medeama SC became, on Sunday, the latest holders of the trophy to realize the hard way. Losing via a shoot-out to fellow Premier League campaigners Liberty Professionals after a 1-1 stalemate, Tom Strand’s side are the sixth outfit (Medeama itself counted twice) in a row to concede why retaining Ghana’s oldest knockout crown is nowhere near as straightforward as winning it the ‘first’ time.
Indeed, throughout history, only three clubs have ever had a run of claiming the coveted piece of silverware more than once. The first was ‘fantasy club’ Real Republikans, during its short-lived, success-laden, prematurely smothered existence. Stuffed with players cherry-picked from among the finest in the land and patronised by the State, it really wasn’t very surprising that ‘Osagyefuo’s Own Club’ emerged champions of the competition in four successive editions, between 1961 and 1965.
Giants Asante Kotoko, too, won it in 1976 and 1978, with the fallow year between those two triumphs accounting for the gap. Then there is Hearts of Oak, Kotoko’s great arch-enemy and the tournament’s record champions, who have collected the title two consecutive times on four distinct occasions, the freshest coming at the turn of the century; prior to that, a full decade had passed since any club, again the Phobians, had pulled it off.
In the five completed seasons since 2010 when the FA Cup returned from an 8-year lull, the closest any club has come to breaking this rather unusual jinx was in 2012/13 and 2014/15 when Medeama conquered — and now a name different from the last is set to be etched on the trophy this year.
It’s a mystique that even the prestigious ‘Big Ears’, likely to stay in Catalunya if the bookies are to be believed, wouldn’t possess beyond the ongoing Champions League season.
Don’t you just love the MTN FA Cup?