Monday, 26 January 2015

GPL Match Day 3 Blog: Gilbert Fiamenyo bounces back to set league alight

Gilbert Fiamenyo

This season, it took Gilbert Fiamenyo just one game to equal his own goal tally from last season. Scratch that: make that 56 minutes. Four minutes shy of the hour mark during Hearts of Oak’s home away from home clash with Premier League new boys WAFA in Kpando, the stocky marksman found the net – a goal that proved the decider in what has turned out to be Heart’s only win in the three-game old campaign.

One goal. Baako p3 – just one. That was all the 24 year old managed to score in 10 league games last season. To say it was nightmarish for him would be a gross understatement. He had joined the Phobians as a hot goal scoring sensation from Heart of Lions before the 2012/13 season, but battling a recurring knee injury had meant he spent more time everywhere else – from the touchlines, to the doctor’s through to home – than on the pitch. Spending time off the pitch came with its own additional problems. He wanted to return and prove his worth, but his body was failing him. The frustration was piling up, and, given the inactivity, so were the calories.

His weight fluctuated embarrassingly, reaching an all-time high at times where he took to the pitch and could barely manage a 1 meter sprint without panting uncontrollably. He was called names too; his competence rubbished, fat-jokes hurled at, killing his spirit as he struggled to stage a come-back against that heavy tide. “Why will people say I’m not performing because I’m overweight? I don’t agree with them at all. In football, you might sometimes dip and that is acceptable,” he would say months later, looking back on a painful episode. “It’s about time people start to accept and encourage we the players. Give us motivation when we go down but not to insult and make such comments.”

As early as December 2012, four months after he had been signed, strong rumours emerged that Hearts had given up on him; that they had transfer-listed him, amid growing complaints from fans that he had been a worthless purchase. But Hearts kept faith, defending their man. “It’s not true we have put Fiamenyo on the transfer-list. It has not even crossed our minds,” Hearts spokesman Muheeb Saed said. Fiamenyo would repay the faith. Later on in the season, he would show glimpses of his old form, going on a three game scoring spree that saw him score six goals. But that was it; a flash in the pan. He lost the self-belief again, checking back into the depressing zone of self-pity and its accompanying mediocrity.

But after enduring another difficult season – last season – Fiamenyo is back. Or so it seems. Before the season kicked off on January 18, with Hearts scheduled to play the first game of the season, Fiamenyo poured his heart out. “I know the fans expect a lot from me but they should have patience,” he said. “I am determined to make my mark and bang in the goals for the side. It is my primary duty to score for the team. I will not relent in my effort to ensure I succeed at the club and make the fans happy.”

The determination oozed from his words and by the time Hearts took to the pitch, it was oozing from his legs too. Balling like a player reborn, Fiamenyo – playing at the Kpando stadium, a familiar turf where he scored at will during his time at Lions – put in a solid performance, capping it with the season’s first goal.

Match Day two saw Hearts face Berekum Chelsea away. If anyone was thinking his great start would follow the familiar nine-day wonder script, they would have revised their expectations upon learning that the opponents were going to be Chelsea. Fiamenyo himself must have smiled, comforted by the warm feeling that the gods were definitely on his side this year. Why? Even through Fiamenyo’s well-documented predicaments at Hearts, he has always managed to score against Chelsea. He had scored three goals in his last two games against the Blues from Berekum, and that amazing run was going to continue. Fiamenyo went on to bag a clinical brace despite Hearts giving in to a second half capitulation and eventually losing 2-4 to Chelsea. Five goals in three games against one opponent, three goals in two games this season alone. He was operating on a different plane, gliding smoothly on cloud nine.

Predictably, there must have been niggling fears that this would end soon, given his history. The doubts must have lurked, both from within and from without, the pressure mounting. But few things can stop a man in his elements. If he was doubting the glaring signs that this was going to be his season, he was surely going to change his mind as Match Day three saw him bag yet another brace in Hearts’ 2-2 away draw against Medeama in Sekondi on Sunday.

“Man-of-the-moment Gilbert Fiamenyo proved he is back to his best,” wrote Hearts’official website. Indeed, the man from Kpando is back to his very best. And it has been timely too. The young man, the stone that the builders rejected many times over the last two seasons, is now the cornerstone, carrying Hearts on his shoulders with his red-hot form. Hearts have scored five goals this season, and every single one of them has been scored by Fiamenyo. And they haven't been easy goals too. Every goal has evinced class, born out of exceptional technique and clever thinking, elucidating his predatory instincts. His second goal against Medeama was praised by Hearts journalist Sadat Larry as "the greatest of the growing array of glittering strikes from the in-form target man – a sensational that brought the whole stadium on its feet".

Insiders say the surge in his form owes much to Herbert Addo's belief in him. The new Hearts coach has worked extensively on the striker - both physically and mentally - and has placed a sort of trust and confidence in him that has got him flying and firing.

Just three matches into the new season and it is already safe to say that no matter what happens next, this will be his best season yet. This is how good his current tally is: last season, at the end of the first round (15 matches), the top scorer at that point was Kotoko's Seidu Bancey. He had scored six goals. Fiamenyo is just one short of that tally after just three games.

Hearts' current talisman is back where he belongs; he is reliving the familiar routine of sticking the ball at the back of the net with effortless ease, and he is enjoying it. And it is hard to see this form derailed at some point; there is a visible hunger, a determination to make this season his own. “I think I’m back again,” he told Sadat Larry. “I'm trying to do better than this and I hope to improve more.”

Many Hearts fans tried desperately to believe that Fiamenyo had been the beneficiary of the hype-without-substance culture so familiar with Ghana’s top flight – a phenomenon aided by the fact that about 90% of games don’t make it to television amid the arrangement of eight matches being played simultaneously almost every match day, and so there isn’t enough seen of players collectively to make informed assessments. Thus there were countless times where his talent was questioned. But what many failed to realize – and what Fiamenyo is proving now - is that the art of goal scoring had always been embedded deep within his genes. It had just been dormant, yearning to be awakened, but the discouraging words from fans had been stifling it.

Not anymore. The confidence has been retraced. The brilliance has resurfaced. The boy has found his feet. A beast has been unleashed.


---AshantiGold are still winning. The Aboakese lads are still the only club with a 100% record after three match days. Bashir Hayford and his team have disconnected themselves from the early season chaos and they are steadily setting themselves apart. Other teams – read, Kotoko and Hearts – will hope it won’t be too late when they settle into their stride.

---So, after a winless first two games, defending champions Asante Kotoko have finally picked up their first win of the season. This is must have come as such a huge relief; Kotoko’s struggles in the first too games caused a huge panic that culminated in a board meeting. Imagine. Will they be able to use this result to turn things around? It remains to be seen. And oh, the highly-rated Ahmed Toure got off the mark too, scoring the second in a comfortable 2-0 win at B.A United. Are we going to see a Toure-Fiamenyo race for goal king? If so, that would be some explosive race, wouldn't it?

---WAFA didn’t do an Inter Allies after all. After two consecutive losses, the Sogakope-based boys won their first game. And they did it impressively too, coming back from a goal down to beat Olympics 2-1 at home. “They are good side, very technical and tactical. They are also young and fast and a lot of teams are going to have problems with them,” Hearts coach Herbert Addo said of them after their clash on Match Day one. If they are able to build on this and pick up some momentum, they will most certainly, like Addo said, be a thorn in the flesh of the big boys.

---There are four teams apart from AshantiGold who are yet to be beaten this season. They are Hasaacas, Wa All Stars and Aduana Stars, and they are second, third and fourth respectively.  These teams finished 7th, 8th and 11th last season, and are obviously determined to make an impact this time round. Hasaacas, especially, at this point last season had just two points, in what was a terrible start that saw them go six games without a win. The ‘Doooo’ boys, under energetic coach Yusif Basigi have learnt from their mistakes and are doing the right things. Will they be a long term threat?


Sekondi: Hearts of Oak 2-2 Medeama SC [Gilbert Fiamenyo 2x : Benjamin Bature, Hans Kwofie]
Dormaa: Aduana Stars 1-0 Heart of Lions [Richard Arhin]
Sunyani: B.A United 0-2 Asante Kotoko [Jordan Opoku, Ahmed Toure]
Wa: Wa All Stars 2-0 Bechem United [Stephen Nyarko, Joseph Adjei]
Obuasi: Ashanti Gold 1-0 Berekum Chelsea [Bernard Morrison]
Sogokpe: WAFA 2-1 Great Olympics [Kissi Boateng, Samuel Tetteh : David Appiah]
Sekondi: Hasaacas 1-0 New Edubiase United [Roger Lamptey]
Tema: Inter Allies 0-0 Liberty Professionals

Premier League Table here

Thursday, 22 January 2015

GPL Match Day 2 Blog: Olympics show tough inner fight

It wasn't exactly a packed stadium but the atmosphere was electric and the football was cracking

ACCRA-----Heart of Lions coach Yusif Abubakar, in the company of his club’s press officer, ascended the stairs leading up to the press room of the Accra Sports Stadium. Journalists had huddled around Olympics coach Kassim Mingle in the corridor just outside the press room, carrying out a make-shift post-match conference while standing and being engaged in the traditional struggle to get their recorders close enough to their subject’s mouth. The crowdedness of the whole process made the heat unbearable, and some journalists had even given up, going on an angry rant about why the press room would be locked after a game when the Ghana Football Association had specifically declared post-match pressers compulsory.

They weren’t the only angry ones. While journalists gave their attention to Mingle, Abubakar paced about impatiently outside, his temper rising steadily. Then it happened; he let if all out. With his facial veins bulging out amid beads of sweat forming on his face, Abubakar’s fury erupted. “What is the meaning of all this? Where is the respect?!” he questioned angrily. “You people bash us on radio. You say Ghanaian coaches don’t like talking after losing game, that we are primitive. But when we come, you don’t pay attention to us. I’ve been here waiting and not one of you has come to engage me in conversation. Is this fair?”

The journalists had to abruptly end their conversation with Mingle in order to quell the tension brewing from Abubakar’s tantrum throwing. A few of us gathered around him and pleaded with him to be calm and forgiving as this whole mess could have been avoided had the press room been opened. It didn’t help much as the anger was still very much visible, but he made his way into the corridor just outside the press room in order for us to get his views on the game that had just ended.

Lions coach Yusif Abubakar

The game? Abubakar’s Lions side had just lost to home side Great Olympics in their Match Day two fixture. A critical look at the game would perhaps give clues about why his fury seemed so abnormal, so incongruous. It wasn’t only because of the whole journalists-ignoring-him drama, surely. It was something more – something about the game. Lions had gone into the first half break with a 2-1 lead, increasingly looking like they had the game under their authoritative control. In the 32nd minute, the Kpando-based team took the lead with a beautiful free-kick from 20 yards that was expertly curled by winger Isaac Quansah , the ball bouncing mischievously  in front of the Olympics keeper Abraham Odonkor at his left post and beating him.

Olympics, who to be fair worked harder that the Lions team despite looking more vulnerable, equalized eight minutes later when the tall, well-built midfielder Godfred Asante slammed in a rebound from a freekick that had seen the ball come off the wall and into his path just outside the box. The home crowd – not many of them, admittedly, but an encouraging number who had turned up for their club’s first top flight home game in over fours years –cheered wildly.

But the joy was short lived.

Just four minutes later, Lions had the last say – roar, if you like – in the first half, when winger Quansah turned provider, setting up Ousman Muntaka with a well-measured cross which was side-footed in delightfully. The referee’s half time whistle met a Lions team that looked well on course for an away win. But the problem was that they had played with a glaring sense of complacency and cockiness, perhaps owing to the fact that they – a club that finished second last season and started this season with a comfortable win in their first fixture against New Edubiase at home in Kpando on Sunday - were playing against an inexperienced newly promoted side that had lost its first game. “My players did not play to instructions, they were doing what they liked,” Abubakar fumed after the game. “We were over-confident; we underestimated them,” captain Sam Yeboah admitted.

They would pay for that attitude. They found themselves pinned to their own half by an Olympics side that played with so much hunger and so much desire. Their tireless running and relentless surges was justly rewarded 13 minutes into the new half. The clock read 58 minutes and Olympics were still fighting for every ball like they were playing in a World Cup final. Their deep persistence found gold when  they stunned their opponents and struck two quick fire goals to go 3-2 up. Striker Kwame Boateng, whose sluggishness in the first half drew a lot of bashing from the home crowd, stepped up to the plate by bagging all two goals. The first saw him hold off Lions’ towering center back John Kufuor, taking the ball away from him in the box and firing a low shot with the instep of his boot past the on rushing goalie Mozart Adjetey. The second saw him pounce instinctively on a long through ball on the left hand side inside the box, allowing the ball to bounce before unleashing a skillful volley that slammed the back of the net to rapturous applause.

Some Olympics fans enjoying the game

Olympics had worked so hard that even Abubakar had to momentarily snap out of his fury to praise them, his face lit-up with admiration. “They were very very committed and very very determined,” he said.

With many pundits already writing them off and tipping them for an early U-turn back into the second tier – where they endured four long years of struggle since being relegated in the 2009/10 Ghana Premier League season – Olympics are determined to prove their doubters wrong. It is strange that a club that was one of the Ghana league’s founding members in 1958 is now considered as a club whose rightful home is the second division. Long years of boardroom wrangling has confined this illustrious club to mediocrity. But this year, they want to right all the wrongs.

That Olympics is one of Ghana’s foremost traditional clubs is never a moot assertion. With a rich, enviable history, their two league titles and three FA Cups pitch them in as the third most successful club in Ghana besides the top duo of Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. This year, there's is a noticeable hunger to tap into their immense worth and write a new chapter. The ‘Agorsu’ club is on a mission to restore former glory.

Their first game, a 2-0 loss in Obuasi to in-form Ashanti Gold seems to have been put behind if their spirited display is anything to read from. “We are not going back,” coach Kassim Mingle said, with a sense of aggressiveness that contradicted his calm, soft-spoken demeanor. “We are not here to add to the numbers. No. We are here to fight and make an impact. You wait, by the time the league finishes, you will see us among the top four.”

Olympics will need to replicate the indefatigable fight shown during the Lions game in their 28 remaining fixtures if they are to realize all the courageous talk and fairytale hopes. Talk is cheap, dreams are ubiquitous. It is now time for Oly – the club loved by many in Ghana for having thousands of nicknames - to put in some work to back it all up.


---AshantiGold are proving that their preseason form – that saw them complete a sensational double over their regional rivals Asante Kotoko and hold Hearts of Oak to a 1-1 draw in the final – was not a fluke. Two matches into the new season and two wins already the Aboakese lads, as they went to Sogakope and outwitted newly-promoted West Africa Football Academy (WAFA) in a 1-0 win. 16 matches played this season and this was the only win chalked by an away team. Bashir Hayford’s men mean business.

---WAFA, though. They suffered their second consecutive loss in what is turning out to be reminiscent of the cliché baptism of fire for newly promoted clubs. Another Inter Allies in the making? Remember them? Inter Allies lost their first six league games last season and everyone jumped on the “they will surely go back” bandwagon. But that obviously never happened. WAFA will hope to draw inspiration from this. The former Feyernoord Academy team are not losing because they are clueless. No.  Look, as far as pure technique and brilliance goes, WAFA are peerless in Ghana. Anyone who has seen them play will attest to that fact. Do not let the results fool you. They have such a young squad and they will need time to warm up to the merciless realities of the top flight. But they need to do so fast. Coach John Kila has to get his men firing before its too late.

---Two matches into the new season and the defending champions are yet to win. An opening day loss has been followed by a 2-2 home draw against Hasaacas. There is something wrong with Asante Kotoko, and this assessment is neither knee jerk nor premature. Last season, they won every single game until Match Day 7, when they lost 1-0 at Bechem. This is a side that is supposed to be above early season struggling – they were double winners last year and the level of dominance they have exerted on the local game does make their current form hard not to criticize. For a team that is gearing up to do Ghana proud in the CAF Champions League, Kotoko need to snap out of this false-start as quickly as they can. Otherwise, catastrophic things will start happening and people will start questioning whether their dominance was really substantial or was as a result of weak competition. Trust me, that conversation has been lurking in the shadows.

---Hearts of Oak too threw away a 2-1 first half lead to lose 4-1 away at Berekum Chelsea. Hearts won’t be worried too much as this was an away game; but throwing away a lead has a way of causing psychological damage. It will be interesting to see if the Phobians recover when they host Medeama home away from home in Sekondi on Friday. And oh, Gilbert Fiamenyo’s early season form though; three goals in two games. Great stuff, but he did something similar two seasons ago, around April-May 2013, when he went on a great streak scoring – including a home brace against none other than Chelsea - but fizzled out later. Interesting to see if he’s able to sustain it this time around.

--Kennedy Ashia is back! Don’t know who he is? He is your favourite play maker’s favourite playmaker. Hw3, Dansoman Frank Lampard papapaa. Go figure.


Berekum: Berekum Chelsea 4-2 Hearts of Oak [Stephen Baffour, Kofi Owusu, Benett Ofori: Gibert Fiamenyo 2x]

Kumasi: Asante Kotoko 2-2 Hasaacas [Emmanuel Asante, Dauda Mohammed: Amos Korankye, Emmanuel Ankobiah]

Dansoman: Liberty Professionals 2-0 B.A United [Kennedy Ashia 2x]

Bechem: Bechem United 1-0 Inter Allies [Aminu Mohammed]

Accra: Great Olympics 3-2 Heart of Lions [Godfred Asante, Kwame Boateng 2x : Isaac Quansah, Ousman Muntaka]

Tarkwa: Medeama 0-0 Wa All Stars

Sogakope: WAFA 0-1 AshantiGold [Petrus Shtelmbi]

Bekwai: New Edubiase United 1-1 Aduana Stars [Bernard Ofori : Elvis Opoku]

*Premier League table here

Monday, 19 January 2015

GPL Match Day One Blog: Aidoo-led Inter Allies start strong

Inter Allies captain Joseph Aidoo gives me a thumbs up after I ask him to pose for a shot

TEMA ----- Joseph Aidoo was so neatly dressed, looking so dapper in his club branded lacoste shirt, a pair of jeans and a smart pair of sneakers that it was hard to imagine that this same person had been completely sweat-drenched just a few minutes before.  He walked out of the dressing room, making his way through the bustling zone just outside: with players, fans, traders, coaches, officials, ball boys and general observers all gathered and doing one thing or the other. The game between home side Inter Allies and visiting side Medeama SC had just closed, and the sun was setting beautifully over the Tema Sports Stadium. The activity was just about dying down, with people steadily making for the main stadium gate on their way home.

Aidoo headed towards the team bus. Just as he was about to board, about three little boys mobbed him, singing his praises while asking for coins as tips. Aidoo had no money on him. But he did not ignore them. He asked them to gather around him, and he bent down to talk to them, promising them that he would surely give them something next time. The kids smiled. Aidoo then responded to a few calls from fans, taking his time to respond to each greeting, thanking each person on each occasion. The humility he exhibited was striking, the gentlemanliness too.

What was even more interesting was that during the 90 minutes that ensued on the field just a few steps away from the tunnel, he had been anything but nice. Inter Allies came out victors with an impressive 2-0 win, but contrary to what the score suggested, the action did not always play out in Medeama’ half.

Aided by the superb passing of the midfield duo of Conney Aidan and Malik Akowuah, the trickery of Kwame Boahene and the experience Hans Kwofie on either wing, as well as the tireless running of striker Nathaniel Asamoah, the visitors caused a lot of problems for Inter Allies. But rarely did they manage to beat their back line and make it into the box, because there was one defender who just wouldn’t let that happen – Joseph Aidoo.

His performance oozed so much class. His tackles well so well-timed, his interceptions so clever. Even without an armband on it would be so easy to tell he was the leader – you just had to look at the authority with which he handled the ball and the aura of leadership that glowed like a halo around his powerful , manly frame as he marshaled the defence with dutiful seriousness. There was a sense of thrill that would surge across the crowd anytime a defender came up against him, a feeling that would soon be replaced by awe, because he would boss the situation so admirably. He was so calm, yet so beastly: so composed yet so aggressive.

A gripping chant of “Bobooooo!” – an affectionate stretch of his nickname ‘Boboo' - emanated from Inter Allies fans, greeting every occasion in which he owned an attacker or recovered so brilliantly after a tackle. “Herh, this defender, this captain!” a fan would yell during the silence in between the chants. “What a warrior. What a player!”

The admiration Aidoo commanded from the crowd was as breath-taking as his performance. This was a fan’s favourite at the height of his powers, extracting charged chants from fans who were enjoying their money's worth. At the end of the game, Aidoo led his charges – including goal scorers Lord Ofosuhene and Niare Benogo, who had found the net in either half – to the inner-perimeter marking fence wall to acknowledge the fans who were applauding proudly behind it.

Inter Allies coach Paa Kwesi Fabin walked up to him and gave him a warm hug that evinced so much trust and confidence. A spirited pat followed as he beamed brightly, muttering some words to his captain that from a distance looked congratulatory; not least because of the pride written all over the gaffer’s face. Aidoo, though, with his hands crossed behind him, listened carefully, the look on his face complementing the gesture to depict respect and submission.

“Fantastic player,” Fabin sighed in an interview after the game. He seemed overwhelmed by Aidoo’s impressive display.  “He’s such a committed player. There’s nothing that you tell him at training that he won’t do. I believe he’s on cause for the national team.”

Last season, Aidoo, who rose through the team's youth ranks, broke into the first team from the fringes and emerged as the most fitting candidate for captaincy with regular captain Seidu Diawudeen Dabo out injured. He led the team through a chunk of their much-publicized fairy tale resurgence that saw them recover from a disastrous, six-losses-on-the-trot start through to finishing in the top half of the table and emerging runners up in the MTN FA Cup.

Before the start of this season, with Seidu Dabo struggling to regain his place, Aidoo was named team captain as a reward for his stewardship. “It's a huge step forward but it's a proud moment in my career and massive honour,” he told the club's official website. “This team is blessed with many leaders and to lead these gallant leaders is like a dream for me. I hope I don't change much from the way I am as a player but to improve more.”

In a side brimming with attacking talent, it is telling that the 19-year-old defender has been heralded by many as the team’s main driving force. H is a charismatic professional whose work ethics, passion and commitment is at a standard that all other players wish to emulate.“He has so much command, for someone so young,” a club insider told me. “Even the older players respect him because he does his work so well and guides all other players.”

Inter Allies have had four different coaches since the start of last season and every one of them have trusted Aidoo enough to field him at some point. Even at the national team level, where he plays for the U-20 team, the Black Satellites, his influence is starting to grow. “He’s Sellas Tetteh’s man,” the insider revealed. “He trusts him so much. So much so that he took him on a trip the last time knowing fully well that he was injured.”

Aidoo’s influence is very much needed at a club that is beginning to show signs of ambition. Inter Allies have been, without the slightest trace of doubt, the fastest growing club in Ghana over the last two years. Last season, at the same venue, they lost their opening league fixture 2-0 to an Ebusua Dwarfs side that they completely outplayed. This year, they've learnt from their mistakes after a long, hard road and the story is different: this 2-0 opening day win against an experienced Medeama side seems set to propel them towards a great season ahead. What is even more impressive is that they have not always enjoyed stability: there has been a significant chunk of their players leaving for Europe – a quotidian routine at the club - and quite a number of managerial changes, but the club seems to be growing from strength to strength.

Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin

Coach Fabin, a trained teacher and coach of Ghana’s Under 17 team was appointed at the end of last month. The club’s top hierarchy – consisting of twins Omar El-Eter (chairman) and President Rabeh El-Eter (president) as well as energetic CEO Delali Senaye – have tasked him to finish in the top four.

And with many players – from talismanic playmaker Prosper Kassim, hardworking midfielder Sarbah Lawson, striker Abdul Fatawu Safiu and Aidoo himself – set to leave the club for Europe at some point this season, this will be a herculean task indeed.

But Fabin, who has managed Ghana’s two biggest clubs – Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak - at some point in his career, knows pressure all too well to be fazed by such a challenge. Already a players’ favourite with his down-to-earth, affable personality, Fabin seems to know what he's about.

“I like the youthful exuberance of my boys. They are ready to learn and ready to fight and work harder. And if you want to be at the top, you need to work hard. This is just the beginning,” he warned.


---Their season ended in defeat last season and it started the same this season too against the same opponents. Dormaa is the definition of dreaded for defending league champions Asante Kotoko. For the sixth time in six years, the Porcupine Warriors traveled there and failed to win. They lost by a goal to nil, a result that has already started causing panic among their fans owing to the fact that so much work has gone into the side over the last few months and the last thing anyone expected was an opening day defeat. Having won the league three times on the trot, the hunger might have subsided on the domestic front as hopes for the CAF Champions League continue to rise astronomically, but the Reds know all too well that “S3 kwasiada anopa b3y3 d3 aa, na 3firi memeneda annwunmer3” 
[An Akan saying that basically means: If the main event will be successful, a sneak peak or indication of that success should be seen in the preparations. Directly translated, it reads something like: If Sunday morning will be fun, it should start from Saturday evening]

--Great Olympics bowed out of the Ghana Premier League in 2010, five seasons ago, with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Asante Kotoko in Kumasi. Years of lower tier toil later, they were back in Obuasi over the weekend and the story was the same, as they lost 2-0 to AshantiGold. It will be a long season for the Oly, and a quick U-turn is looking inevitable given the return of their traditional board room wranglings and disagreements. We all hope they go through an Inter Allies-like rejuvenation at some point. It's always fun having a club with so much deep history strutting their stuff in the top flight.

--After a difficult past two seasons, it must have been heartwarming for Hearts fans to see their much-vilified marksman Gilbert Fiamenyo hit the ground running this season. On familiar turf in Kpando – where he broke out as a goal machine for Heart of Lions years back – the bulky Fiamenyo was the difference as the Phobians ground out a typical Herbet Addo scoreline: a simple, effective 1-0 win. That is the thing about a Herbert Addo side; the scorelines aren’t as high profile or spectacular, and so the team escapes the eyes of the public as they steadily grow. As a big club, Hearts’ management and fans may be expecting loud performances, but they know all too well that the quietude associated with the immensely experienced Addo’s modus operandi is admittedly slow, but most certainly sure.

Match Day 1 Results

Saturday January 17

Kpando: Hearts of Oak 1-0 WAFA [Gilbert Fiamenyo]
Sunyani: BA United 1-0 Bechem United [Isaac Danso]

Sunday January 18

Obuasi: AshantiGod 2-0 Great Olympics [Bernard Morrison, Emmanuel Baffour]
Tema: Inter Allies 2-0 Medeama SC [Lord Ofosuhene, Niare Benogo]
Kpando: Heart of Lions 2-0 New Edubiase United [Isaac Twum, Osman Muntaka]
Dormaa: Aduana Stars 1-0 Asante Kotoko [Richard Arhin]
Sekondi: Hasaacas 3-1 Liberty Professionals [Frederick Quayeson, Samuel Afful 2x: Alfred Nelson]
Wa: Wa All Stars 1-0 Berekum Chelsea [Stephen Nyarko]

Premier League Table here