KickerGH’s writers predict the clubs which could claim ‘Top Four’ spots by September
The second half of the ongoing Ghana Premier League season commenced on Sunday after a month’s break and places at the business ends of the table remain reasonably keenly contested. In a slightly belated mid-season analysis, two of our writers predict who the occupants of the table’s top quarter — the eventual champion included, of course — would be when it’s all said and done. See if you agree with them:
BENJAMIN GYAMERA APPIA NUAMAH
1st – WA ALL STARS
The Northern Blues have improved tremendously this season, picking up some vital victories on the road, notably away to Hearts of Oak and Berekum Chelsea. Their consistency already has them occupying top spot and they seem ever so destined to win their first-ever major title.
2nd – ASANTE KOTOKO
The Porcupine Warriors were battling for their lives in the initial weeks of the season, languishing at the foot of the 16-team log before effecting a timely managerial change. Though revived by caretaker coach Michael Osei, finishing second is the best that can be achieved by the Porcupine Warriors, considering the seriousness the leaders have attached to their title-winning ambitions.
3rd – ADUANA STARS
Aduana’s recently appointed head coach, Cioba Aristica, has been a positive influence on the club’s run in the top-flight this term. The Romanian managed to rake in all of the club’s 26 points before the first round ended and is certainly set for more. However, the premature exit of star striker and chart-topping scorer Yahaya Mohammed to Mexico wouldn’t bode too well. Shorn of Mohammed’s contributions, they’d end up third at best, which wouldn’t be too bad, given their start to the season.
4th – HEARTS OF OAK
Kenichi Yatsuhashi began a good job but was unceremoniously booted out of the club on “mutual grounds” just last week.
And while the Japanese-American has been promptly replaced by another expatriate, Portuguese Sergio Traguil, his mid-term departure could seriously affect the club’s quest for a first title since 2009.
1ST – ASANTE KOTOKO
It’s only the spirit of true champions that’s helped record Ghanaian top-flight winners Asante Kotoko rise from the depths to which they’d sank at the beginning of the season, and it’s just the spirit that could land them a fourth GPL title in five years. It helps that interim boss Osei is fighting to prove he deserves the gig substantively, and also that — out of the FA Cup — Kotoko have nothing more valuable to fight for than the league.
2ND – ADUANA STARS
Like Kotoko, Aduana overcame a difficult start to end the first round on a high. Maintaining their impregnable home form has been crucial, while an uncharacteristically impressive scoring rate seems to give them an extra edge. All that should see them run the eventual champions close, yes, but they’d probably still end up no higher than they did last year.
3RD – WA ALL STARS
Suffice to say the league’s sole northern representatives have had the story of the season. Top of the pile by the June 5 break, little All Stars have outmuscled stronger opponents to state their intent and deserve full marks for that. As the season enters its concluding laps, however, the heavyweights would begin to bulk up and that could see the current leaders drop a notch or two but still end up in a higher spot than usual.
4TH – HEARTS OF OAK
The biggest factor that transformed Ghana’s oldest surviving club from being almost relegated last season to a formidable force in 2016 had arguably been head coach Yatsuhashi, and the 47-year-old’s recent dismissal could easily have a reverse reaction on the Phobians, given that the decision to part ways may not have gone down too well with key stakeholders in Hearts’ ranks. It’s that negative energy which could mar prospects that had hitherto seemed promising.