|Olympics fans look on as their side romp to a comfortable home win against BA United|
ACCRA----- In the parking lot just behind the VIP Stands of the Accra Sports Stadium, BA United’s Nana Egyir was greeting his friends and fans who had made it to the game to see him play. The experienced defender, affectionately called ‘Rambo’, didn’t look particularly inspiring. His eyes told the story of a player drained and frustrated. “This has happened all season; we play all the football but end up losing all drawing, that has been our story,” the former Heart of Lions captain told me, shaking his head.
B.A United, back in Ghana’s top flight after close to a decade out, are finding life at the top very hard to cope with. It has been a forgettable journey thus far and the effects are visible. Sunday’s game saw them beaten by three goals to one against fellow newly promoted side Great Olympics. Inspired by their beastly defender Godfred Asante (who rocketed in a ferocious free kick) and stylish play maker Francis Attuquaye Okai (who scored a brace), Olympics proved too much for Egyir’s side. The only bright spot from the game for the ‘Apostles of Ghana Soccer’ was their consolation goal, a penalty coolly converted by Egyir himself in the 67th minute.
B.A weren't that bad all game – they started poorly, looking increasingly amateurish for most parts in the first half and early in the second, but their creativity popped up late into the second half. The only problem was that they lacked the imagination and coordination in the final third to make all the skillful passing and energetic running from the likes of Charles Oppong, Charles Manu and Enoch Gyimah count.
Defensively, though – and as the score line suggested – B.A were very poor. “You can’t defend like that in the Premier League and try to even get a draw,” their coach, Frimpong Manso, admitted. Manso looked even more crest-fallen than Egyir. The coach – a former Ghana national team star in the early 90s – had his head almost bowed throughout the post-match press conference. It was hard not to notice his pain, hard not to feel sympathetically drawn into his predicament. Since a morale boosting 1-0 derby win over Bechem United in their opening fixture, his side have only won once in their last seven games, losing all but one of the rest. They now sit rock bottom on the league log, with a meagre seven points from a possible 24.
|L-R: B.A United Goalie cum captain Lawrence Osei and coach Frimpong Manso|
People at the club have many theories as to what has been responsible for the slump, but Coach Manso believes two main factors have hindered their desire to get their season back on track. The first he reckons, is their inability to put away the chances they create. “That has been a big problem,” he complained. The second, which is closely related to the first, is so glaring that Manso need not have mentioned it: the crippling inexperience in the squad. “Most of the current players are those who qualified us for the Premier League from Division 1 (second tier) and so have no top flight experience,” he said. “We haven’t been able to beef up the squad with much experienced legs to guide us. If you looked at our squad Nana Egyir is the only seasoned player but the rest are all inexperienced ones who are finding it hard to cope at this level.”
B.A need experienced players to fix things, but at this stage of the season when registration is closed, they will have to turn things around the hard way. They now face a herculean test of their character, as they have to dig deep into their beings to unearth an ability to achieve against the odds. “We need to do something quickly or else things will get very difficult for us going forward,” Manso said matter-of-factly. “We really need to work beyond ourselves to improve as that is our only option now. We need to work extra extra hard to be able to survive.”
Their affable goalkeeper Lawrence Osei, who also happens to be the captain of the team, agreed. “It’s all up to us, the players in camp now. We need to train hard raise our game up and play according to what coach tells us because we can’t sign any more players at this point,” he said. “We have more games upcoming. We need to defend well and play well up front.”
They have their destiny in their own hands.
--Sitting just above B.A United at the bottom are...
…Hearts of Oak.
Strangely, the Phobians failed to draw inspiration from two consecutive wins in two competitions (1-0 CAF Confederations Cup first round win over AS Police and another 1-0 win over Istanbul FC in the Elite Cup). Now, they find themselves with eight points from a possible 24, recording only two wins. Herbert Addo’s reign so far has been steeped in mixed fortunes and emotions and it remains largely unclear what really is going on, but you get the sense that the dissatisfaction will spill over soon.
--Yakubu Mohammed knows how to score, doesn’t he? Proper striker, him. A hat trick on Sunday against New Edubiase in the Adansi Derby has taken his tally to five, joining what has suddenly become a crowd atop the goal king chart: the likes of Chelsea duo Kofi Owusu and Stephen Baffour, Bechem's Noah Martey and Hearts' Gilbert Fiamenyo - who has now gone four games without scoring following his famous January exploits (that saw him score five times in his first three games).
---AshGold are also still on top of the table and have won all but one of their games. Everyone keeps referring to them as traditional chokers who will bottle it eventually, but it remains to be seen.
-- Asante Kotoko’s loss at Ashanti Gold before the league’s short break saw the club ushering in the expected storm. Management eventually gave in to the prevailing panic around the club. Coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani was essentially forced to go on his accumulated leave - a conspicuous bid to get rid of him amid fan agitation – with a new hunt for a successor being instigated while Didi’s still technically under contract. Sunday’s 0-0 draw against the exciting WAFA meant the Porcupine Warriors have gone four consecutive league games without a win, a run of form that has seen them slump to 12th place on the log.
---Who would've thought? Great Olympics are now out of the relegation zone following their win over B.A United. That’s two wins in their last three games. “This is the start of good things to come for us,” coach Kassim Mingle said. Cliché, but you can’t help but admire how their hard work is beginning to pay off.
---After going unbeaten in their first three games, Wa All Stars have bizarrely gone on to lose four of their last five games and have now dropped to the relegation zone. Something really bad must have hit them.
Hasaacas 2-1 Inter Allies [Kojo Poku, Tenneson Opoku : Eliasu Fusseini]
Asante Kotoko 0-0 WAFA
Heart of Lions 1-0 Hearts of Oak [Osman Muntaka]
Liberty Professionals 1-0 Bereku Chelsea [Kennedy Ashia]
New Edubiase United 2-3 Ashanti Gold [Fusseini Nuhu 2x : Yakubu Mohammed 3x]
Great Olympics 3-1 B.A United [Godfred Asante, Francis Attuquaye Okai 2x : Nana Egyir]
Bechem United 2-1 Medeama SC [Ernest Baffoe, Noah Martey : Nathaniel Asamoah]
Aduana Stars 1-0 Wa All Stars [Daniel Darkwa]