There was a moment during the Legon Cities FC Vs Asante Kotoko game when Shatta Wale nearly lost himself in excitement. The dancehall artiste – performing at half-time – run across the pitch and then threw himself to the ground, drawing huge cheers from the fans.
Shatta Wale’s cameo appearance may have dominated the headlines, but the game itself also served fans their money’s worth. Friday Night Football is not usual in Ghana, but what we saw could change the narrative.
While Legon Cities thrilled their fans with a bright start, it was Kotoko who walked away with all three points following a professional performance. The home side dominated the early exchanges and deservedly took the lead in the 11th minute through Greek-Ghanaian Panayotis Papadopoulous.
However, Kotoko pulled level before the half-time break, Augustine Okrah deftly lobbing the ball past the onrushing Fatau Dauda. The second half was all Kotoko, with Emmanuel Gyamfi’s quickfire double handing the Porcupine Warriors a 3-1 win.
The hashtag #BringBackTheLove was initially started by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) in order to whip up support for the league and the various national teams. Although the opening matchday wasn’t dull, the buzz that surrounded matchday 2 was something else.
With their ‘new money’, bourgeois bus and tremendous branding, Legon Cities have now become everyone’s second favourite club. And it was no surprise that there were lots of new converts supporting the Royals during the game against Kotoko.
There seems to be a positive vibe around this season’s Ghana Premier League and this newfound buzz was on full display during Friday’s game. For the first time in a long while, fans were eagerly anticipating a league game, with queues forming at the gates a clear two hours to the match.
Everything points to the fact that the excitement is real. While Legon Cities ticked all the right boxes on social media, Kotoko made sure they weren’t left out of the party. And this was typified by the huge cheer that greeted the players when they came out of the tunnel to have their warm-up. The atmosphere was simply outstanding.
Goals, goals, goals…
After all the buzz that was created in the build up to the game, every fan at the stadium expected to see goals. Thankfully, there were lots of them as Kotoko run out 3-1 winners. If the number of goals scored was appeasing, the beauty of their execution was more exciting.
Panayotis Papadopoulous’ opening goal may have been a simple tap-in, but the build-up, the run and the cross to set him up was just marvelous. Then there was Augustine Okrah’s equalizer: A complete show of skill and intuition.
Receiving a pass from Songne Yacouba, the forward didn’t bother controlling it before dinking it past Fatau Dauda. As if that was not enough entertainment for the fans, Kotoko added two more goals in the second half, thanks to a double from Emmanuel Gyamfi.
Nothing excites fans more than a game that brings goals and it is easy to see why both home and away fans had a great time on Friday. Money well spent!
A shatta performance
Shatta Wale is an enigma. Some say they love to hate him; others say they hate to love him. Wherever you stand on the divide, it was all love for the man when he came out to perform at half time.
The Shatta Movement boss sent the stadium into a frenzy when he made his entry. Song after song, he got the fans singing along, dancing and chanting his name by the time he left.
With his Militants marauding behind him, Shatta Wale performed “Shatta City”, “Forgetti”, “Borjor”, before drawing the curtains on a highly hysteric night with “Thunder Fire”. The energy and positive vibe that he poured inside the Accra Sports Stadium was simply infectious.
Oh boy, may the Ghana Premier League see such exciting days more often!
Still a long way for Legon Cities
Legon Cities have won over lots of fans with their branding strategy, however, there is still work to be done if they are to cement their place as a formidable side in the Ghana Premier League. On-field competence is still very much lacking.
In both of their opening two games, they took early leads only to surrender them. Against Liberty Professionals last week, the Royals went 2-0 up but fell flat in the second half as Liberty crawled back to earn a share of the spoils.
It was no different against Kotoko on Friday. After a positive start which saw them take the lead, Legon Cities capitulated as the game wore on, allowing the Porcupine Warriors to overturn the result.
Coach Goran Barjaktarevic admitted in the post-game conference that his side needs to improve in terms of character and fitness. It’s early days yet in the league but Legon Cities have a lot of work to do to keep their new converts.
Kotoko still the team to beat
Kotoko proved on Friday that they are still very much the team to beat in this season’s league. The record league winners have started the campaign so well, winning both of their opening two games.
Normally when Kotoko start a season this way, it’s very difficult to stop them. With Hearts of Oak currently in the doldrums and lacking a clear direction, the only teams that can rival the Porcupine Warriors are Ashanti Gold, Medeama and Aduana Stars.
However, Maxwell Konadu’s men certainly have the firepower and depth to go all the way. On Friday, they demonstrated why many rate them as favourites for the title. Having conceded early against Legon Cities, the Porcupine Warriors showed great character and responded with a very professional performance in the second half.
This was vintage Kotoko and they can only get better as the season progresses.