The sole Premier League club from Ghana’s north could be on course to pull off a shocker
By: Sammie Frimpong
Unfancied Wa All Stars being top of the Ghana Premier League for a considerable stretch of time is certainly a rare phenomenon, yet that’s very much been the case in recent weeks of the 2016 season and, unless the Northern Blues lose steam, it’s a spot they wouldn’t be relinquishing anytime soon.
It’s a possibility few foresaw, really, and a run that’s all too reminiscent of a certain Leicester City’s incredibly successful push for glory in the just-ended English Premier League season. Like Leicester, All Stars endured a far-from-smooth 2014/15, ultimately scraping survival by finishing a solitary point above the best of the three relegated clubs.
In truth, though, it’s just the sort of existence All Stars have generally had in their previous eight seasons in the top-flight: never truly in the hunt for glory, but almost always doing enough to retain their status year after year.
Ninth time around, though, has been markedly different, as described at the outset. All Stars are the surprising frontrunners, two points ahead of all else and clearly unwilling to relent in their hitherto unlikely pursuit of a first major piece of silverware after recording their latest three points — nine of them already, complemented by a few draws — in Sunday’s win versus 2011 champions Berekum Chelsea. That result extended their present unbeaten run to five games (only the second-longest they’ve recorded this season, in fact) in a campaign that’s seen them lose just thrice.
All Stars, given the backing they enjoy (Ghana Football Association boss Kwesi Nyantakyi owns the club, lest you should be reminded), were expected to spare no expense in strengthening their ranks for steadier ground in a title race they’re contesting with some of Ghana’s traditionally stronger sides, but the remarkably shrewd business done in the recently concluded second window proved they’re bent on making a potential capture of the crown less reliant on financial muscle than on sheer guts and determination. Restricting themselves to recruits from Ghanaian football’s lower tier, All Stars seem to relish their underdog tag and, again like Leicester, seek to ride on it to glory, even if just to give their own league-winning feat the dramatic edge Foxes all over the world are still tipsy with.
Belief, indeed, is running high, as has been expressed by one of All Stars’ best-known old boys, former Fifa U-20 World Cup winner Bright Addae, earlier this year in an interview with Accra-based Starr FM.
“I feel good Wa All Stars are performing this way, after playing for this team some years back and this is the first time everybody is talking about them after leading the pack,” Addae, currently starring in Italy’s Serie B for Ascoli, said, adding that “for this I am very happy for them and wish them well.”
And, really, everyone is — you don’t need to be a Nyantakyi praise-singer/well-wisher to feel that way, bro — regardless of the fact that there’s still half of the season to go.
Everyone loves the underdog, of course, and as underdog stories on the Ghanaian scene come — move over, Aduana Stars and Berekum Chelsea — All Stars becoming the first club from northern Ghana to conquer the national top-flight would take some beating.