Midfielder Sadiq Alhassan converted an 88th minute penalty to win the game 2-1 for Wa All Stars as Aduana Stars goalkeeper Joseph Addo who saved a previous penalty taken by Richard Arthur in the 27th minute failed to pull another save this time as the Wa side marched on to clinch the 2016 Ghana premier league title for the first time in their history.
ALSO – The fans of All Stars and Aduana Stars clashed at the Wa sports stadium some thirty minutes before the official kickoff of the game as the rival fan groups pelted stones at each other with some fans reported to have suffered minor injuries.
Coach Enos Kwame Adepah has thus completed the season going unbeaten at home in fifteen games at the Wa sports stadium winning eleven of those games to be premier league champion in his first season in charge of the club having joined them from second-tier side King Solomon FC.
Playmaker Paul Asare de Vries who has been hampered by series of niggling injuries since last season opened the scoring in the 8th minute with a fabulous screamer that sent the home fans into ecstasy as de Vries and his teammates celebrated the goal in front of the jubilant home crowd.
But the All Stars merrymaking was cut short after scorer of beautiful goals Bright Adjei responded to the gauntlet thrown down by Paul Asare by equalizing for the 2009/10 champions in the 10th minute with an equally great finish and some 600 Dormaa fans that traveled to support the Ogya boys took over the whole stadium with their cheers.
After the equalizing Aduana Stars goal, the football game ceased to flow as the visitors resorted to all sorts of delaying tactics that was obvious. For instance Striker Yahaya Mohammed went down four times in the first half and play was stopped each time the former Asante Kotoko forward stayed down. From the way he went down to the ground to break the flow of the game it was hard to believe that the striker had genuinely been injured. He was not the only Aduana Stars player that was involved in the delaying tactics as there were several others and it did Aduana Stars more harm than good.
Yahaya simply did not play having blasted wide the only clear goalscoring opportunity that fell to him in the 15th minute and if he had scored, Aduana Stars would have gone 2-1 up a result that was more likely going to kill the spirit of the All Stars in trying to level up matters and score another third to win it but that was not to be.
In the first half, Aduana Stars did not give up after conceding the first goal as they went out to play and got the equalizer but they did not come into the game again after Adjei’s equalizer as they sat back and invited massive pressure from their opponents with Maxwell Baakoh, Paul Asare and Sadiq Alhassan dominating the midfield to the extent that it appeared as if the Dormaa midfield duo of Seth Opare and Elvis Opoku were not in the game and it is this incessant pressure that yielded the first penalty for the home team that was properly saved by goalkeeper Jospeh Addo who gave out a strong lesson about how to stop a penalty in the act of goalkeeping.
After Aduana Stars had unsuccessfully protested the penalty, Richard Arthur elected himself to take it in the 27th minute obviously because he wanted to increase his goals tally as the leading goalscorer of his club despite the fact that he had missed two penalties already this season but Addo was calm between the sticks and guessed correctly by diving to the right side to make sure Arthur squanders it. He did not push the ball away rather he managed a solid grasp of it and remained on the ground motionless for some seconds with the ball still in his hands and his legs suspended in the air as if he was posing for a picture and the traveling Ogya fans cheered on whilst there was disappointment all over at the opposite end.
The second half was played with both sides making changes to their starting line ups. Cioaba Aristica brought on Noah Martey to replace Richard Mpong (bad day) and later on introduced Nathaniel Asamoah who took the place of Yahaya Mohammed and winger Zakaria Mumuni left his place for striker Derrick Sasraku. Enos Adepah got his substitution right by the introduction of the swift forward Mattew Andoh as Richard Arthur left the game having had a poor afternoon, a big day that he was supposed to make himself count.
All Stars starting line up – GK Richard Ofori, Adams Hafiz (captain of the side), Nicolas Mensah, Isshaku Konda, Abdul Ganiu Ismail, Sadiq Alhassan, David Sandan Abagna, Kweku Asuandzie Baffoe, Paul Asare de Vries, Maxwell Baakoh, Richard Arthur.
Aduana Stars starting line ups – GK Joseph Addo, Godfred Saka (captain of the side), Daniel Darkwa, Yakubu Mohammed, Wahab Adams, Seth Opare, Elvis Opoku, Zakaria Mumuni, Richard Mpong, Bright Adjei, Yahaya Mohammed.
With the swift Andoh now in the game, All Stars resorted to diagonal balls to the forward who showed great dribbling ability and it was no surprise that he was involved in the second All Stars penalty in the 32nd minute. Andoh picked a ball and was brought down by the Aduana Stars defence in the box following a melee but it was a soft penalty as the contact on the player from my point of view was minimal and lacked the full force to make him fall but referee Ali Alhassan who was very close to the incident at the end of the day took the decision and pointed to the spot to award All Stars a second penalty a decision that was slammed by the Aduana Stars officials who felt hard done by and they protested the Mr.Ali Alhassan’s decision for well over ten minutes as Aristica’s side threatened a boycott but came back to complete the game with Sadiq Alhassan scoring the winning goal from the spot in the 43rd minute and that was how the scoreline remained when referee Ali Alhassan whistled to end the tense game and celebrations just begun.
ALSO – Emmanuel Ocran and Kofi Yeboah of All Stars missed the game due to injuries.
The win takes All Stars to the summit of the league table with 51 points and with a game to spare, the pride of the Upper West region are champions of Ghana for the first time in the their ten-year premier league history.
Follow Gariba Raubil on twitter @GRAUBIL