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Sports News of Friday, 26 April 2019

Source: footballmadeinghana.com

Special Competition: Five key talking points from the first round

The first round of the Normalization Committee Special Competition has come to an end.

It didn’t disappoint with some thrilling encounters and lot of controversial moments on match days.

Footballmadeinghana.com has identified five key revelations from the first round of the competition.

1. Abdul Fatawu Safiu is the real deal

Many were wondering how Asante Kotoko would fare following the near-absence of Songne Yacouba. The Burkinabe has refused to feature for the team since their exit in the CAF Confederation Cup, insisting he wants to leave the club.

But Abdul Fatawu Safiu has risen to the occasion by taking the team on his shoulders.

The former Inter Allies player has scored six goals in the competition despite being played out of his favorite position.

His last goal against Berekum Chelsea from the spot stole the headline after deciding to go for a panenka.

Many have already tipped him to be part of the Black Stars squad in the coming AFCON in June.

2. Elmina Sharks, an epitome of solid defence

It sounds strange but Elmina Sharks’ defensive prowess can not be overlooked. Seven games seven clean sheet for Yaw Acheapmong and his charges is simply laudable.

No team has been able to break through their impregnable defence. They might not be scoring more goals but their defensive capability is unmatchable.

Yaw Acheampong is gradually carving a nitch for himself as a master of solid defensive play. Perhaps, his defensive capabilities as a player is greatly showing in his coaching.

3. Kim Grant’s Hearts of Oak will come good

A lot were expecting to see how Accra Hearts of Oak will perform under Kim Grant after winning a lot of friendly games during the off season.

Seven games so far in the Normalization Committe Special Competition, four wins and three defeats. Three wins at home, one away win and all the defeats have come away from home.

The signs are clear Kim Grant has a plan for the Phobians. Things haven’t been that smooth for the team but you can see the steady progress the team is making.

The combination of youth and the experience players will take time to take off.

Hearts fans need to be patience and give the British-born Ghanaian some time for his juggernaut to take off.

4. AshGold, Aduana and Medeama to fight for one spot in Zone A

Zone A was billed the most difficult Zone because of the quality of the teams pitched up there. It was a straight battle between Medeama, Aduana, Ashanti Gold and Asante Kotoko. With only two places to fight for, Asante Kotoko seems to have their hands on one of the place. Who takes the other slot?

Medeama are second on the table with a game in hand against Berekum Chelsea.

They look very strong at home, they will have to improve on their away performance if they want to qualify for the semi finals.

Ashanti Gold started very well but recent defeats to Asante Kotoko and Berekum Chelsea have slowed them down.

They will have to double up their performance in the second round if they want to take the one slot left.

Aduana Stars on the other hand have not been convincing so far. Two wins, three draws and a defeat in six games. They failed to beat their close competitors Ashanti Gold and Medeama SC at home, making it difficult for them in the second round where they will have to travel to Tarkwa and Obuasi.

5. Officiating still a problem

“We had a clear penalty in the second half but the referee said otherwise” Akapo Patron after his side 2-2 draw with Techiman Eleven Wonders.

“Asante Kotoko always get favours from referees, we had a clean penalty in the second half but the referee overlooked it,” Svetislav Tanasejiv after Ashanti Gold 2-0 defeat to Asante Kotoko.

Berekum Chelsea coach was livid after referee awarded penalty to Kotoko in match day seven.

“The penalty was not a penalty he clearly misread the collision to be a foul when it wasn’t, he could have given himself ample time to think that decision through. Apart from that the referee had a good game”.

‘‘Ghanaian referees haven’t changed after the expose but we can’t complain even though they are still behaving abysmally”, Johnson Smith told pressmen on his assessment of referees after the first round of the NC Special Competition.

The coaches comments after games tell you how we are still struggling to solve this officiating conundrum.

Many would have expected to see an improvement and changes in our officiating after the #12 expose, but if we are to use the first round of the Normalization Committee Special Competition to make a judgement then we still have a lot of work to do in order to get there.

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