Who made it into my team of the season and who’s the biggest flop? Derrick Sasraku, Stephen Sarfo, Winful Cobbinah and co but league top-scorer Hans Kwofie didn’t. Why? You’ll learn the reasons why.
GK Joseph Addo – Aduana Stars
The older, the better. This statement is so true for goalkeepers. The veteran goalkeeper played as back-up to Soulama Abdoulaye at Kotoko where he won the 2013/14 league. Addo joined Aduana Stars last season to become the first man to really displace Stephen Adams as the number 1 in Dormaa since 2009.
Indeed 2017 has smiled at the former Heart of Lions gloves man .Won the WAFU Cup with Ghana and added the league title to his list of honors won.
RB Isaac Kwain – Ebusua Dwarfs
Has been consistent for two seasons running and he has my recognition now. Joined the Cape-Coast side from Bofoakwa Tano, Kwain has made the right-back position his own. He is not in the starting line-up only when he’s suspended or sick. It is due to the big performances of the powerful Kwain that Christopher Bonney was forced to search search for playing time at the left back area.
LB Abdul Wahab Ibrahim – WAFA
When he surges forward he is always dangerous for opposition teams. Was a key part of the WAFA defence that conceded the least number of goals – 19 – this season.
CB Stephen Anokye Badu – Aduana Stars
As hard as rock. The hard defender missed just three games this season. He was serving a suspension for accumulated yellow cards in the home game against Hearts of Oak and in the reverse game at the Accra sports stadium the club announced that he was sick and didn’t take part in that encounter also. The other game Anokye didn’t feature was a home tie against Inter Allies. Apart from these games the former BA United center-back was ever present in the Aduana Stars alongside his ally Wahab Adams.
CB Vincent Atingah – Hearts of Oak
This was Atingah’s season. The best he’s ever had in his career. Was solid at the back as Ghana won the 2017 WAFU cup in Cape Coast and in the first game against Gambia, it was the Hearts of Oak defender who scored a late penalty to qualify the Local Black Stars to the next round. He is not a finished article yet but this season he did well to merit a spot in this selection and if there is a penalty no one on this team takes it better than he does.
DM Elvis Opoku – Aduana Stars
The combative midfielder has built a solid reputation for himself in the last few years as a reference defensive midfielder in the game. A versatile midfielder who has been a constant figure in the midfield of the champions. Formed a great midfield combination with Seth Opare – who left to join Kotoko this season – and now his partner in crime is Noah Martey.
How Elvis was neglected by the Local Black Stars coaches still remains a mystery.
AM Winful Cobbinah – Hearts of Oak
Creator supreme. Winful Cobbinah’s first game for Hearts of Oak this season against Berekum Chelsea at the Golden City park was one that sent a strong message that the “livewire” was on a special mission once the Phobians completed his registration. In that cameo appearance on Sunday 2nd April during Week 9, he thrilled the fans with his football artistry as his trademark deft left-footed passes lit up the game. Even though Hearts of Oak lost that game, Cobbinah was amazing. He followed this up with series of wonderful performances. His clever pass for Fatau Mohammed opened up the Kotoko defence in one of the biggest games of the season at the Babayara on 6th August that ended 1-1. He broke free from the middle to deliver a delightful through pass to the forward-running full back Fatau whose cross into the goal area was connected by striker Kwame Kizito to equalize for the Phobians. 4 goals and 7 assists for a player that started playing after 8 matches have been completed at the start of the league is just respectable. In the WAFU championship, he was also very influential in Ghana’s success. The only playmaker that comes close to Cobbinah is Majeed Ashimeru who didn’t finish the season having gone abroad.
RW Sam Adams – Aduana Stars
Failed to make a bigger impression at BA Stars and Wa All Stars but this season Sam bossed it. He pushed Richard Mpong out of the starting line-up of Aduana Stars and his performances in the 24 games he played justify why Yusif Abubakar was not wrong to pick him over the experienced Mpong. His goal at the Babayara proved how decisive Adams can be in the goal area. Often stationed on the right wing, his eye for goals means he plays closer to the opponent’s box. In the 18th minute he reacted the quickest on a lose ball in the Kotoko 18-yard box to slot home the opener. Abass Mohammed equalized with a free-kick in the second half as the game ended 1-1.
LW Thomas Abbey – Hearts of Oak
At a point he was the leader on the goal-scorers chat. On this team if I was to pick a captain, it is always going to be Abbey – owner of 13 goals this season. Always versatile as he showed that once again in the WAFU cup where Maxwell Konadu deployed him as a left-full back but he went on to excel. It is not the number of goals Abbey scored that excites me the most but how he’s conducted himself throughout the season. Didn’t lose focus even when the praises were louder and that is a good mark of a true professional. The captain fantastic.
CF Stephen Sarfo – Berekum Chelsea
Amed Toure ? Yes. This was really hard decision to make. He scored 13 goals in 22 games including 3 penalties and a hat trick against Bolga All Stars. Topscorer of Bechem United in his debut season. 8 home goals and 5 away goals. Toure had a terrific season. He scored against Hearts of Oak, Tema Youth, Medeama, Wa All Stars back to back , grabbed back to back goals against Olympics also. In the Accra game the former Kotoko striker netted a brace against the relegated side before completing his season with an incredible effort against the same opponent on Week 30 in a game he was needed to show his worth more than ever. When Bechem United surprisingly defeated defending league champions 1-0 in Wa, it was Toure that got that solitary goal.
But why did I pick Sarfo over Toure? This is Sarfo’s first season in the Ghanaian top-light and going on to make it big makes his achievement the more remarkable. 7of his 15 goals were scored away from home against teams like Inter Allies, Bolga All Stars, Ashgold and Liberty Professionals. In the Berekum Chelsea 1 Hearts of Oak 0 game it was Sarfo’s brilliant 22nd minute effort that defeated the Phobians in Berekum. Toure is a known name in the league. He’s dominated it before and so 13 goals is not really a big deal when that number is pitted the 13 notched up by unknown Sarfo. Toure is the better striker overall. His technique is top class. But I am impressed by Sarfo’s hard work and determination that saw him clinch the WAFU Cup golden boot. What a debut season in the elite league !
CF Derick Sasraku – Aduana Stars
Scorer of eight goals and provider of nine more assists to his teammates to score makes Derick the most balanced striker this season in the league in terms of goals and assists. He doesn’t only score. But he creates the goals also. His link up play is the best from any striker in the league since last season. Physically fit, Sasraku is your striker for big games. Back to back goals against Hearts of Oak, scoring the winning goal at Inter Allies in a very tense game during the first round and his solitary goal against WAFA in Dormaa in that title-decider are some of the biggest highlights of the 23-year old this season. After scoring against Hearts of Oak in Dormaa, he went on to breach their defence once again in Accra in that pulsating 3-3 draw where he also assisted Nathaniel Asamoah to score Aduana Stars’ third goal. Look, 5 of his 8 goals came on the road against Inter Allies, Hearts of Oak, Bolga All Stars and Ashantigold. Fact that he’s replaced Yahaya Mohammed to become the leading attacker of the Ogya side this season and powering them to the title puts Sasraku up there.
The reason the league’s top goal-scorer didn’t make it in my team?
Hans Kwofie, deployed as a second striker this season behind Shafiu Mumuni or Daniel Gozah, he scored 17 goals.
16 were scored at home and only 1 away goal scored against Kotoko on Week 27. But if you look at Kwoffe’s season he wasn’t consistent and didn’t influence the big games. After scoring a hat trick against Great Olympics on Week 1 on Saturday 18th February, Kwofie didn’t score again for the rest of the first round when Ashgold dropped to the relegation zone and this was a time they needed him the most but he wasn’t there to help. This period of ineffectiveness was extreme. His next goal came in Week 19 against Inter Allies in Obuasi as Ashgold won 3-0 with the former Medeama playmaker grabbing a brace. He didn’t make the headlines in important games when he was supposed to carry his team forward. Ashgold lost key home games to Kotoko, Bechem United, Hearts of Oak in the first round and in all these games Kwofie didn’t make his presence felt. He has the goals but was not a better striker in the season ahead of likes of Stephen Sarfo, Amed Toure, Derrick Sasraku who were consistent for longer periods of the season.
Best coach of the season– Yusif Abubabar. In the last three seasons I have given this best coach award to the title winning manager but this shouldn’t create an impression that is a template – that the title winning coach is automatically the best coach. There are reasons I have always given. Yusif is the best coach this season for the reason that he was never beaten by any of his title rivals and that is a great feat. He picked four points against Klavs Rasmussen’s WAFA who finished as runners-up , defeated Frank Nuttall’s Hearts of Oak 2-0 in Dormaa and picked a point in Accra in that 3-3 game and was unbeaten against Kotoko in the two games he played against them both ending in stalemates. If you look at the top 4 teams on the final league table below the Dormaa team – WAFA, Hearts of Oak , Dwarfs and Kotoko – it is only Dwarfs that managed a home win against the champions Aduana Stars. Even with that, in the reverse game in Dormaa, Dwarfs were beaten 2-0 by Yusif’s side. His team never dropped below the third place on the league table from Week 1 to Week 30. He’s the best coach and there is no argument.
Follow Gariba Raubil on twitter @GRAUBIL