The new Ghana Premier League season kicked off on Saturday, with Great Olympics taking the first three points, and matches continued on Sunday, with title contenders Hearts of Oak losing to Aduana Stars.
Medeama, Karela United, Kotoku Royals, and Dreams FC all started well.
However, defending champions Asante Kotoko were not in action because they face RC Kadiogo of Burkina Faso in the first leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round on Monday in Cotonou.
Here are five things we learned from the Premier League’s first weekend:
ADUANA MAINTAINS HOME DOMINANCE OVER HEARTS
Aduana Stars beat Hearts of Oak 1-0 after captain Bright Adjei scored four minutes after halftime. It was Aduana’s seventh home victory over the Phobians in Dormaa, emphasizing the club’s dominance over the Hearts in the Bono region.
With the win on Sunday, Aduana has not lost in seven home games against Hearts, with Hearts last winning in Dormaa in 2014. Aduana has kept six clean sheets and scored eight goals.
Paa Kwesi Fabin’s team looked very motivated and played at a high level on Sunday, and they will look to replicate this performance in their next games. Aduana’s target this season is to finish in the top four, after finishing 11th last season.
HEARTS OF OAK’S FIRST MATCH WOES PERSIST
Hearts of Oak have failed to win their first league match for the third season in a row after losing to Aduana Stars on Sunday.
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Two seasons ago, an outbreak of Covid in the Hearts camp forced them to start the season from matchday 2 and they drew 2-2 with AshantiGold in Accra. Last season, they were also held by Legon Cities to a goalless draw at home.
The Phobians traveled to Dormaa with hopes of starting the season on a high note but lost.
They were able to recover from a poor start to become champions in the 2020/21 season after Samuel Boadu took over midway through the season, but that wasn’t the case last season, as they finished sixth.
Their performance against Aduana was reminiscent of last season, and Samuel Boadu must address his side’s profligacy in front of goal. They had many good chances against Aduana but blew them. Last season, their wastefulness cost them dearly, and it could cost them again this season.
NO WALKER, NO PROBLEM?
Great Olympics lost head coach Annor Walker, who refused to sign a new contract to take up a similar role at Samartex FC before the start of the season.
It was predicted that the departure of Walker, who led the Olympics to a top-six finish in the previous two seasons, would hurt the club, but so far, the club appears to be enjoying life under Yaw Preko.
Olympics won the GHALCA G6 competition under the guidance of the former Ghana international, and they followed that up with a winning start in league play on Saturday. Olympic defeated Bechem United 1-0 in the 82nd minute, with Samuel Abbey-Ashie Quaye scoring the only goal.
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Preko is no stranger to the Olympics, having previously served as an interim manager. This time, he’s signed a two-year contract and appears to be fully prepared to help the club succeed.
Olympics retained the majority of their players from last season and added experienced midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu to strengthen the side. The former Ghana international started on Saturday and looked sharp.
Great Olympics can finish in the top four this term.
DEBUT DELIGHT FOR KOTOKU ROYALS
Kotoku Royals secured three points against Accra Lions on their Ghana Premier League debut. Forward Augustine Boakye scored the club’s first top-flight goal in the 19th minute and held on to ensure a winning start.
They were the only newly promoted team to win on the league’s first weekend and will look to build on that going forward.
But it was a bittersweet moment as they couldn’t celebrate their victory in Oda.
The game was played in Cape Coast because the Ghana FA Club Licensing Board (CLB) rejected Kotoku Royals’ proposed Oda Stadium.
For the time being, the Cape Coast Stadium serves as their temporary home venue while they work to bring their favorite stadium up to CLB standard.
ANOTHER RED OPENING WEEKEND
The new season got off to a feisty start, with three red cards issued in the seven games played between Saturday and Sunday. One venue saw two, while the other was recorded in the top linear of matchday 1.
Two players were sent off in the game between Medeama and Legon Cities, which the Tarkwa-based club won by a single goal. Legon Cities duo Michael Ampadu and Michel Otto were both sent off in the second half for dissent.
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Hearts of Oak defender Caleb Amankwah was sent off in their defeat to Aduana Stars in Dormaa. Amankwah was involved in an off-the-ball clash with Gabriel Mensah in the closing stages. Both received yellow cards, but it was Caleb’s second booking of the day and it resulted in a red card.
Surprisingly, this weekend’s red card total is one less than last season’s opening weekend total of four. Last season’s first matchday saw up to four players sent off, with one game (Bechem United 4-0) seeing three red cards.