Hearts of Oak defeated Kotoko in the Super Clash to reclaim fourth place, while Aduana lost for the first time in seven games, leaving the title race wide open. Medeama extended their winless streak to six games, while King Faisal returned to winning ways with a victory over Great Olympics.
Here are five things we learned from the 20th matchday of the Ghana Premier League.
TITLE RACE IS STILL OPEN
Aduana Stars, who are chasing their first league title since 2017, may have to work harder to realise their ambitions. Despite losing for the first time in seven games, they have made it much easier for many more to join the title race. Accra Lions, who defeated Tamale City, are only two points behind the Ogya lads, having lost only once in their previous five matches.
Following their defeat to Kotoko last Wednesday, Bechem United have also returned to winning ways after defeating Bibiani Gold Stars and have established themselves as clear competitors with 33 points, just three behind Aduana Stars.
Hearts and Kotoko, both with 31 points, cannot be ruled out of the race either, given the number of games remaining on the schedule. The two sides continue to bump into each other while keeping an eye on the prize at hand.
MORE TO DO FOR OLYMPICS
Despite Bismark Kobby Mensah claiming to have resolved several issues in just a few days in charge, there is clearly a lot more work to be done. The fact that Great Olympics failed to build on a crucial win against Hearts of Oak to churn out results against a struggling King Faisal will have many football fans questioning the consistency of Great Olympics.
With four straight losses, they are on one of the worst away runs in their history. They are one of six teams with only one away win so far.
If Kobby Mensah has challenges to deal with at the Accra-based team, playing better on away grounds will undoubtedly be one of them.
MEDEAMA IN TOP SIX
After all of their struggles this season, Medeama may have turned their fortunes around and returned to the title race. Following the departure of David Duncan and the resignation of Umar Rabi last week, the Yellow and Mauves have already played under three different managers, but have now risen to sixth place on the log.
Just as Kotoko and Hearts, Medeama now have 31 points and trail on goal difference. They also haven’t lost a game in their last six. The Tarkwa-based club can only hope that Umar Rabi’s departure does not have a negative impact on the team and their campaign while they focus on rising to where belong.
Never a dull moment at the Akoon Park 💜💛. 6 games unbeaten! #Nevergiveup pic.twitter.com/sqdigOSD6a
— Medeama SC (@MedeamaSC) March 5, 2023
SLAVKO’S ABSENCE NOT A PROBLEM?
Hearts of Oak won a crucial match against Asante Kotoko on Sunday, propelling them back into the top four and also clinching the President’s Cup.
Before the game, some Hearts fans prevented head coach Slavko Matic from supervising the team’s training sessions, citing the team’s recent poor form, which included a 1-0 loss to city rivals Great Olympics. According to reports, the coach was advised by the police to stay away from the team until further notice, which is why the Serbian manager was not seen in the dugout.
In some ways, the outcome of the Super Clash appears to vindicate the fans’ notorious attitude. However, the future of both the club and the coach is a hotly debated topic. Will Slavko Matic return to duty? Will David Ocloo, the assistant coach who led the team on Sunday, continue? Will a substantive coach be hired right away to replace Matic? These are just a few of the questions that fans will have.
“I gave them the backing to sack Slavko Matic from training.”
Chapter ‘O’ chairman of Hearts Oak, Kassim Awal Osuman supported the fans who stopped Matic from entering the training facility 😳#3Sports pic.twitter.com/Uj7N5Xb8FX
— #3Sports (@3SportsGh) March 3, 2023
SUPER CLASH NOW NOT ENOUGH TO FILL STADIUM
The biggest match in Ghana football, despite all the hype and talk, failed to draw a crowd. The fact that the fixture was supposed to serve a dual purpose of a league fixture and the President Cup created the impression that it would attract even more fans, but this was not the case.
Many had lamented the low turnout during the Ga Mashie derby, hoping for a better turnout in the super clash, but the story was nearly the same.
For the time being, it is unclear whether this season’s chronic problem can be attributed to poor pitches, poor officiating, fewer quality players, and so on.
Hearts of Oak v Kotoko at the Accra Sports stadium🔍#SuperClash #3Sports pic.twitter.com/LehZnwIHhT
— #3Sports (@3SportsGh) March 5, 2023