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Soccer News of Tuesday, 2 January 2001

Source: By Kwabena Agyei-Boahene

Hearts beat all in SWAG awards

CURRENT Africa Clubs champions, Accra Hearts of Oak, deservedly swept a lion's share of this year's awards of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG).

Interestingly, almost all the football awards were won by members of the victorious Hearts team.

A release signed by the SWAG President, Mr Joe Aggrey, Hearts, by their performance, have lifted the image of the country's soccer which has been in the doldrums as far as continental football is concerned.

Hearts’ achievement this season is no doubt enviable, judging from the fact that it is the only team that has achieved this remarkable feat, at least for now.

Winning the premier League for the fourth consecutive time Hearts added the double by thrashing Okwawu United 2-0 in the FA Cup final and completed the season with an outstanding performance b beating Esperance of Tunis 5-2 on aggregate to win the African Champions League Cup for the first time in nearly two decades for the country.

Top on the list of the award winners is Hearts marksman, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, who emerged the goal King in the just-ended League Championship with 10 goals. He was named SWAG Footballer of the Year for his enormous contribution to the growth and development of football on the local scene.

According to the release, Kuffour has remained a key member of the national squad, a force to be reckoned with in defence, a dynamic midfielder and an intelligent striker whose talent has made him an all-round footballer.

Ishmael Addo, Kuffour's dependable striking partner who placed second in the CAF Championship League goal King race, won the SWAG Goal King award with 19 goals.

The release also described Addo as a great asset for the national team. Champion Club, Hearts of Oak, were adjudged the club of the year for their wonderful feat in winning the treble this season to equate the record of Manchester United of England.

The club's boss, Harry Zakkour, was named the Chairman of the year in view of his meritorious and untiring efforts in steering the team to emerge the best club side on the African continent.

Other award winners in the victorious Hearts team is the coach, Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, who won, the coach of the year award for providing the team with a rich technical experience that helped them to win the cup after several unsuccessful attempts.

Agyeman Duah was awarded a special award for featuring in three African Championship finals with three different clubs. He was a member of the Kotoko squad that played against Zamalek in 1991, Goldfields against Raja Casablanca in 1997 before playing in the just-ended 2000 Champions League with the victorious Hearts team.

Referee Alex Quartey won the SWAG Referee of the Year award for the fourth consecutive time. According to the SWAG, referee Quartey’s performance last year was very excellent, especially the way he handled crucial international matches in the Champions League, Winners Cup and CAF Cup.

The Juvenile Player of the Year award was won by Samuel Ellis of Paa Bedu Stars, a Cape Coast-based colts team. Ellis, during the year, remained the Most Outstanding Player in the Milo colts championship.

Goldfields’ Ofosu Amoah, alias Tico Tico, also emerged the Prospect of the Year.

For her most impressive achievement, the SWAG conferred on Elizabeth Baidoo the Woman Footballer of the Year award. Baidoo’s performance with the Black Queens, especially during the team's participation in the African Women’s Cup of Nation in South Africa where they won bronze, was indeed remarkable.

Unfortunately, there were no honours in handball, basketball, volleyball and table tennis apparently due to the inability of players in the above-mentioned sports to distinguish themselves.

Nevertheless, in spite of the nation’s athletes to win a medal at the Sydney Olympics, SWAG recognised the contribution of Aziz Zakari in becoming the first Ghanaian athlete to reach the finals of the Olympic 100m sprint at the Olympics and therefore presented him with the Male Athlete of the Year award.

His female counterpart, Vida Anim, won the SWAG Woman Athlete of the Year award for winning bronze in the 100m at the World Junior Athletics World Cup in Santiago, Chile. Vida placed fourth in the 200m at the same championship.

In the field of boxing, the SWAG named James Armah, alias Bukom Fire, Commonwealth Super Featherweight Champion, as the Boxer of the Year, while Joseph Agbeko, the 19-year-old African Bantamweight Champion, won the Promising Star of the Year.

The nation’s tennis star, Frank Ofori, will receive the Dedication and Valour Award in recognition of his 12 years campaign in both local and international tennis, while Gunther Darkey won the Tennis Player of the Year.

The special awards were conferred on Ambition Boxing Promotions, Mr Douglas Djabeng and the Ghana Breweries Limited (GBL) for their continued promotion of sports in the country.

Ambition Promotions did very well by helping to uplift the image of professional boxing at a time most promoters in the country abandoned the sport at the most crucial period.

Mr Douglas Djabeng, Chairman of the Division One League Board, was honoured for his dedicated service to football, while the GBL’s sponsorship of major sporting events, especially the Premiership and the FA Cup, was highly recognised by the SWAG.

Meanwhile, the poor nature of the nation’s sports in the year 2000 is manifested in the association’s inability to choose a winner for the topmost award — SWAG Sportsman.