We are one gameweek away from the end of the 2016 Ghana premier league season and I pick the finest eleven players from the sixteen clubs who have been the biggest performers for their teams in the Ghanaian championship.
There are four players from historic league champions Wa All Stars and also players from WAFA, Liberty Professionals, Medeama, Asante Kotoko, Aduana Stars and Hearts of Oak are included.
My special mentions go to manager Kenichi Yatsuhashi who left Hearts of Oak after the first round and Croatian trainer Cioaba Aristica of Aduana Stars. Kenichi was the most popular managerial face in the first period of the season and it was unfortunate he left the scene earlier than it was expected.
Also it it important to acknowledge some really good players who played well but could not make my list. One of the hardest decisions I had to make was the selection of the best right full back this season. I had three top performers competing for one spot and all the three full backs are captains of their respective teams – Amos Frimpong of Asante Kotoko, Godfred Saka of Aduana Stars and Hafiz Adams of All Stars. You can’t look beyond these right backs as the best in the league this term and my final pick has to be Amos Frimpong and I will provide the justifications why I picked Amos over Saka and Hafiz.
Also special recognitions go to Sadick Adams, Nicolas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Isaac Mensah, Cosmos Dauda (Hearts of Oak), Dauda Mohammed, Ernest Sowah (Asante Kotoko), Seth Opare, Elvis Opoku, Bright Adjei, Joseph Addo (Aduana Stars), Kofi Yeboah hampered by a hand injury in the second round, Emmanuel Ocran, Mattew Andoh, Richard Arthur (All Stars), Gideon Waja, Komlan Agbegniadan, Mohammed Alhassan, Martin Antwi, Charles Boateng (WAFA), Issah Adamu, Yaw Arnol, Yaw Ackah, Abednego Tetteh (Bechem United), Abdul Bashiru, Emmanuel Eli Keke, Mozart Adjetey, Lawson Bekui (Dreams FC), Gockel Ahortor (Inter Allies), Bright Lukeman, Nicolas Gyan, Thomas Esso (Dwarfs), Baba Mahama, Isaac Baah, Mohammed Iddrisu, Richmond Ayi (Techiman City), Ebo Mends (Liberty Professionals), Samuel Afful, Eric Bekoe, Saliw Babao (Hasaacas) and Tawfik Mohammed, Wahab Hannan (Edubiase).
Agree or disagree with my picks?
Picking the best eleven players from more than four hundred players is certainly not a small job and you can let me know what you think about this team of the season – the changes you will make if you were to pick your finest eleven.
Goalkeeper – Razak Abalora (WAFA)
By far Abalora is the goalkeeper of the 2016 premier league season. The young goalkeeper has kept 13 clean sheets in the 26 games he’s played this season for WAFA and has not conceded a single goal in 4 of his last 6 premier league outings. With the dependable Abalora in goal who has won more than 5 man of the match awards, the academy side has conceded the second least number of goals this season letting in 20 goals in 29 games and boast of the best defence after Wa All Stars who have conceded 19 goals in 29 matches. . Abalora was handed a huge test this season with the departure of loanee goalkeeper Felix Annan to Asante Kotoko and everybody was looking forward to see how he was going to be able to keep the goal in the same manner that Felix did but now everybody has appreciated the talent of the youngster. He has perfectly filled in making top saves week in week out in and his goalkeeping displays that quickly come to mind came in the games against Ashantigold in Obuasi in which he also stopped a Shafiu Mumuni late penalty to win a point for his side and against Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak in Sogakope, he was simply unbeatable. Wall
Right Back – Amos Frimpong (Asante Kotoko)
This was really hard to decide. Amos Frimpong, scorer of 9 goals in 25 games for his club Kotoko or the consistent Godfred Saka of Aduana Stars who has pkayed almost every single game or the All Stars captain Hafiz Adams who has appeared in 27 matches of All stars and been very influential propelling his side to the clinch the ultimate title. If I have the chance to name three separate teams, each one of these full backs would surely go in as the right back for each of the teams but there is one team of the season and big decision must be made. I did not consider the goals as the standard in assessing defenders but when the comparison is so close like this one then other factors i.e goals scored are taken into account and that is where Amos Frimpong has the edge thanks to his goals. 9 goals including 7 penalties as a defender cannot go unrecognized. At All Stars’s Hafiz Adams is not seen as the best player this season and at Aduana Stars Saka is not the best defender (Wahab Adams is) but at Kotoko Amos is considered the best player this season (not Dauda Mohammed) as he has led the Kotoko team with great leadership having played as a right back, emergency left back and as makeshift center back and has scored the same number of goals as the club’s main striker Dauda Mohammed. In the game against Techiman City, it was Amos whose late non-penalty equalizer earned the Porcupine Warriors a point at the Den in Techiman and when All Stars visited the Babayara, it was the same Amos who netted the only goal that won the clash for Michael Osei’s side. Leader
Left back – Nicolas Mensah (All Stars)
Prostar academy product Nicolas Mensah has performed wonderfully in the All Stars defence which is the best among the 16 clubs in the championship and it is thanks to Mensah and his defensive partners that have made All Stars the most difficult side to score a goal against. At left back Mensah played one of his several top games against Hearts of Oak at the Accra sports stadium and Berekum Chelsea in Berekum and in those big games he proved to be a perfect foil for the pacy All Stars wingers- Mattew Andoh, Emmanuel Ocran or Kweku Asuandzie. Mensah is versatile as he can play in central defence as well. This season is his only second season at All Stars. Weapon
Center Back – Abdul Ganiu Ismail (All Stars)
A Ghana football nobody who has become somebody today by winning the premier league title. He joined All Stars in 2010 from Wa Boca Juniors, a second Division side. He is the bedrock of the All Stars defence. He has the physical appearance of John Boye but gifted with the intelligence of Jonathan Mensah. Clever defender Ganiu. 27 games under his belt this season and he is the main man at the back of Enos Adepah’s side. This was too easy for me to decide. Pillar
Center Back – Wahab Adams (Aduana Stars)
I did not spent more than a second in picking Wahab Adams ahead of several others like Robin Gnagne, Kadri Mohammed, Ahmed Adams, Osei Agyemang and co. Adams has established himself as the number one defender at the Dormaa-based side starting 28 games for Cioaba Aristica’s side. He is the constant name in central defence and either one of Yakubu Mohammed, Stephen Anokye Badu and Emmanuel Akuoko joins the former Hasaacas defensive stalwart. In one particular game against Berekum Chelsea at the Golden City Adams converted into a makeshift goalkeeper with both keepers of Aduana Stars injured in the same game. Substitute Celestine Damptey who replaced the injured Stephen Adams also could not continue the game due to an injury he suffered minutes after coming in and Adams took the gloves and kept a clean sheet. Dependable
Central Midfielder – Mustapha Essuman (Hearts of Oak)
Experienced Essuman, Hearts of Oak’s best central midfielder this season has played all the 29 games for the Phobians. Ever consistent. Essuman’s biggest deficiency is that he is not dangerous in the final third of the opposition half . He misses majority of his shots at goal and its no surprise he has not scored a single goal for his club in the league but he is a fine midfielder. He only needs to sharpen some of the football techniques with shooting a key issue for him to address. He tackles hard and is able to distribute the ball well. When midfield players like Saban Laryea and Leonard Tawiah have failed to glitter this season, Essuman has rather become one of the best midfielders in the league when even before the season started, he was not tipped to be among the best, myself included. Anchor
Right Midfielder – Kwesi Donsu (Medeama)
Since Donsu joined Medeama from Berekum Arsenals he has never disappointed and worth every penny Mr.Moses Armah spent to bring him to the T&A park. 13 goals including 8 free-kick efforts in 25 games for Medeama this season is absolutely incredible. He has been super, Donsu. The 2015 FA Cup best player who scored 6 goals to win the cup with the Yellow and Mauves has had a personally good season both in the domestic league and in Africa. A free-kick specialist that has caught the eyes of many followers of the game.
Left Midfielder – Sadiq Alhassan (All Stars)
The former Asante Kotoko player has started every single game for All Stars making himself a kingpin in their defence and is the only All Stars player with that great stats. 29 starts in 29 games. He’s been lucky too having stayed free from injuries unlike his midfield partner Kofi Yeboah. The midfielder scored the goal that landed the league trophy for All Stars when he converted a late penalty against Aduana Stars to win the tense game 2-1 for his side on 14th September 2016. The Tamale-born was part of Kotoko 2012/13 league winning side but was only fringe player as Michael Akuffo, Michael Helegbe and co were ahead of him. The clever midfielder would join Amidaus on loan the next season as he could still not break into Didi Dramani’s first team of Kotoko. He is a serious player of the season contender, myself tipping him to be nominated first. An excellent passer of the ball.
Right forward – Latif Blessing (Liberty Professional)
14 goals scored in 23 appearances for Liberty Professionals. Injuries to Blessing ruled him out for some considerable time where he missed six games. Liberty’s position on the table does not equate to Blessing’s performances this season in that the second highest goalscorer of the league could be relegated to the lower-tier division something that will make Blessing’s season useless but individually Blessing has had a fabulous season. When he doesn’t score, there is mostly problem for George Lamptey’s side. Blessing is the fulcrum around which Liberty revolves. Very key player.
Left Forward – Emmanuel Ocran (All Stars)
One of the local players Avram Grant invited for the Black Stars’ AFCON qualifier against Rwanda was Ocran. A pacy forward gifted with football intelligence and the ability to make good decisions in the game. He knows when the shoot at goal and when to assist a teammate. Ocran is one of the unknown All Stars players that played the best football this season. He forms part of the All Stars effective attacking quartet of Richard Arthur- Kweku Asuandzie / Mattwe Andoh- Maxwell Baakoh – Emmanuel Ocran. Ocran has done more than enough to earn a place on this list.
Center Forward – Yahaya Mohammed (Aduana Stars)
Has started 28 of the 29 games his club had contested so far with the game against Berekum Chelsea the only game he missed. The worst can become the best. Yahaya started the season with a dismal form drawing blank in his first five games against Inter Allies, All Stars, Techiman City, WAFA and Ashantigold. But he bounced back from his sixth game netting the winner against Asante Kotoko, a big game in Dormaa and leads the goalscorers chat with 15 goals. There were games against Hearts of Oak in Dormaa, Kotoko in Kumasi and All Stars in Wa that he was supposed to inspire his team but he could not. That is normal for any player and for Yahaya as a matter of fairness, it is obvious that his weak body has been a major setback but still managed 15 goals in his first season that brought Aduana Stars very close to the league title for the first time since they won it in 2010. Letthal
Coach – Enos Adepah (All Stars)
From Second-tier side King Solomon FC to Premier league winner. In his first season with All Stars which is also his first season as a manager in the highest football league in the country, Enos Adepah won the league title last Wednesday after All Stars defeated Aduana Stars 2-1 in Wa to qualify for Africa. For a coach who started his fairy tale with a home win against Hasaacas and away win at Aduana Stars in Dormaa, the world started taking him serious. He never ended there as he masterminded the 3-1 beating of Hearts of Oak in Accra by All Stars and also forced down the same bitter pill down the throat coach Solomon Odwo of Berekum Chelsea as All Stars left the Golden City with a great 1-0 win thanks to a solitary strike from Richard Athur.
What makes Enos Adepah by distance the coach of the season is that he inherited a good team from his predecessor Jimmy Cobblah, he never bought any big name player as he continued the long standing transfer approach of All Stars – it’s almost a prohibition for the Wa side to sign a big name player or an establish name.
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