The review: 7 things we learned from FCPPL matchday 23

first_imgOne of the most dramatic matchdays in the league this season was on Wednesday.And before we head off to follow the action on matchday 24, here’re some quirky things we picked from the last set of games.Does this guy read Myjoyonline’s blogs?The last edition of this series saw us seriously question Nathaniel Asamoah’s striking credentials. And with good reason – the dreadlocked former Kotoko man had not scored since June 21.Whatever.He responded in fantastic fashion on Wednesday, bagging a brace against Bechem United. The striker is often lethal at home but it took him one month and one day to break his duck.  The emergence of Stephen Baffour and Kofi Owusu (Chelsea), Kennedy Ashia (Liberty), Yakubu Mohammed (AshGold), and Ahmed Toure (Kotoko) could have been the boost Asamoah needed to tighten his grip on the goal king race. Prior to matchday day 23, the tally had been cut to three but after his brace, he has extended his lead to 15 goals, four more than closest rival Kofi Owusu. Nathaniel could have possibly been boosted by the last editorial as he sought to prove us wrong.Cheers, Nat.  Hearts really need a united front…The headline story from matchday 23, inevitably, is Hearts of Oak’s 4-0 drubbing of Heart of Lions. What will, and has, surely made the rounds will be the presence of the “old guards” of the club who followed the team to Cape Coast. Hearts played with a renewed spirit, with such grit and tenacity as well as playing with much swagger – something which has not been seen in the Phobian team all season. The presence of Nii Ayi Bonte II, Isaac Tetteh and Harry Zakkour and others surely played a major role in the performance. They have promised to follow the team for the last eight matches. Are they the catalyst for a Phobian surge up the table? The next matchdays will surely provide with us the real reasons behind this turnaround. …but Soulama Abdoulaye needs to be checkedThe ‘keeper was red carded after allegedly punching a Heart of Lions player in a scuffle. The Burkina Faso national team goalie has not been short of controversy during his stay in Ghana. Abdoulaye was a key actor in a confrontation with game officials when Hearts lost to Hasaacas in Accra on July 5. Hasaacas had scored twice in 10 minutes, but the second was contentious, and the towering player had words with the officials.His posture seemed to have agitated the fans, whose belligerence later saw the assistant referee Alhassan Badiun allegedly hit by a missile. The chaos resulted in 20-odd minute delay.  Soulama is no stranger to controversy as he was also, famously, engaged in a confrontation with police during a Hearts-Kotoko game, while he was the Reds’ number one (pictured below in that game). And given the low level of experience in this Hearts team, Abdoulaye should be leading the way in terms of conduct. At the moment, he is letting the club down and should be checked.All Stars are mean hostsThe Wa side have made their home a fortress this season and have been very mean to guests to visitors.  Hearts of Oak and Ashantigold have all tasted defeat. And on Wednesday, sixth-placed Aduana Stars were their latest victims as they fell 1-0. More impressively, the Wa side are yet to concede at home since March 22 March and are yet to back down.After a mini slump, they have picked up four points out of a possible six leaving them fifth on the log. Edubiase and Liberty Professionals are the next two visitors to Wa and will hope to break the resolve of Jimmy Cobblah’s side.How observant ar our gaffers?385 goals have been scored this season after matchday 23.  Of these, 189 have been scored in first halves; 196 in the second halves. Could this – the increased number of second half goals –  be as a result of tactical tinkering by coaches in the last half-hour? Or could this be attributed to fatigue on the side of defenders? Or should we credit dogged attacking? Only one away goalOnly 18 away wins have been recorded all season throughout the league.The stat is even more incredible considering 184 games have been honoured – meaning just 9.7% of away games have been won. This is highly unimpressive and bad for the league’s image. Take, for example, matchday 23. It was no surprise that no away win came but even more worrying was that only one out of the 14 scored went to an away side (Daniel Appiah for Olympics in their 1-1 draw v BA United). For those who’d argue that Hearts scored four in Cape Coast, that’s technically inaccurate: it was a Phobian home game as a result of an FA ban. Teams will have to up their games away from home as the league reaches the business end. All teams work relentlessly to win at home, but to travel and fail to hit the target for seven teams is a source of worry. Coaches can probably work on counter attacking in their next training sessions. That should help.Partnerships still workThe last duo to wreck havoc in the league were Hearts of Oak’s Samuel Affum and Eric Gawu who combined effectively to clinch the Phobians 20th league title. That was in the 2008/09 season.Since then, no true partnership has been formed. It’s either strikers have dipped in form, have been unable to gel or their coaches have adopting  a lone man upfront. But this season, we’ve been lucky.This season has seen the emergence of the Kofi Owusu – Stephen Baffour combo, which has yielded 21 of Chelsea’s 32 goals. That’s almost 66% of the Blues’ goal haul. These goals have fired the Berekum side to second on the league log, two points behind leaders AshGold. Did anyone say the two-man upfront style is outmoded?Think again.–Coverage of the games will be live on Joy Sports’ Twitter account: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySports. On Sunday, follow live league action on Joy Sports Arena from 3pm on Joy 99.7FM in Accra and Luv 99.5 FM in Kumasi.last_img