Soccer News of Tuesday, 11 March 2003
The curtain of the first round matches of the LG Top Four Tournament was lowered on Sunday as Asante Kotoko took a giant step of annexing the first-ever sponsored Championship by the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA).
Two crafty goals by intelligent Isaac Boakye and petit Stephen Oduro nailed Hearts of Oak to the grounds at the Kumasi Sports Stadium and ended a long spell of Kotoko dominance by the Phobains.
In fact, it was one match that the Porcupine Warriors could have scored not less than four before the recess but some carelessness and over anxiety on the part of their strikers robbed them of additional goals.
The Hearts defence was torn apart, the midfield was non-existent and the attack led by good-old Emmanuel Osei Kuffour was not bitting.
New entrant Emmanuel Osei was overwhelmed by the crowd, which thronged the stadium five hours before kick-off. No wonder he gave way to Wisdom Abbey before the recess.
The attack of Hearts came up briefly in the second half but the dynamic trio of Bortey, Kuffour and Taylor were well checked by the phenomenal Joe Hendricks supported by brilliant Godfred Yeboah (TV3) and Dan Acquah.
The Porcupine Warriors now lead the standings on nine points followed by their bitterest rivals Hearts, on six points.
Earlier on Saturday, at the Accra Sports Stadium, Liberty Professionals snapped a two-match losing streak against Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, smashing Great Olympics 4-0, the highest of the Tournament.
It was the first victory for the Dansoman-based club, one of the pre-tournament favourites who faltered in the opening two matches. They are now third on three points from three matches while Olympics are stuck at the bottom of the standings at the end of their first round matches.
All goals were scored in the second half within a spate of 20 minutes as Asamoah Gyan, kid brother of Ghanaian international Baffour Gyan and a grandaunt of the VALCO Academicals fetched two.
Fifteen goals were scored in the first round making it an average of 1.25 goals per match while four players shared the honours at the top of the goal king chart with two goals each - Don Bortey of Hearts, Asamoah Gyan of Liberty, Boakye and Oduro of Kotoko.
Surprisingly though, the tournament awarded five defenders as the best players of each of the games as against one attacker, William Tiero of Liberty, raising doubts about the capabilities of the local attacking machinery.
There were some few minuses though, on the first day of the tournament, fans scaled over the Accra Stadium wall while security personnel stood aloof and last week, sports journalists who hitherto had had an excellent working relationship with GHALCA, threatened to boycott the rest of the matches because of the way some of them were manhandled at the gates.
Veronica Commey of the GNA Sports Desk lost her cell phone while Andrew Nortey had his wallet, which contained undisclosed amount of money stolen in the process.
Unfortunately, the threat was called off after a series of informal meetings between Sports Writers and officials of GHALCA.
The tournament has been a phenomenon; the crowd, massive and standard high setting a stage for an uncompromising second round which kick-starts on Sunday, March 16.