It’s been five weeks of Ghana Premier League action. That’s enough time for trends to be spotted in the area of numbers and statistics. Before the impending big match weekend, Joy Sports crunches some figures around pertinent themes.
THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Matthew Cudjoe Anim has been impressive for Asante Kotoko since his debut in the President’s Cup. The highly-rated winger exudes excitement among fans, who love the twinkle-toed youngster. The diminutive Matthew has been a breath of fresh air this season, earning all the plaudits, and rightly so.
At 16, Cudjoe (shown in the red bar in the graph below) has fitted perfectly like a glove into the Kotoko setup, and the pressure that comes with playing for, historically, one of Africa’s biggest clubs doesn’t seem to perturb him. Last Sunday, he became Kotoko’s youngest ever player to score a league goal at 16 years and 68 days, when he got the opener from the bench against Dwarfs.
The record was previously held by Dauda Mohammed who scored for the Reds at 16 years and 335 days in 2015. It is however imperative to set the records straight, nationally: Gideon Obeng Kyeremeh still holds the dual honour of being the youngest player to play in the topflight at 13 years, 308 days and youngest to score (for same club, Aduana Stars) at 14 years and 118 days. This feat (shown in the green bar in the graph above) was achieved in November 2017.
ON THEIR WAY TO THEIR DOOM
Nothing seems to be working for Ebusua Dwarfs. The club has lost all five opening league matches and things look gloomy for the traditional club. This is their worst start in a top-flight campaign, picking zero points from a possible fifteen.
In 2016 and 2019, the club picked two points and one point from their first five matches, respectively. But Dwarfs now look destined for relegation as they languish bottom of the log. This abysmal start is only better than Inter Allies’ campaign of 2013/14, where the Accra-based club lost all seven of their opening league matches. However, it took the magic of the late Herbert Addo to rescue the club from the fangs of relegation.
It remains to be seen if there’s any coach who can conjure magic from the skies to rescue the Cape Coast club in dire straits.
Five clean sheets from five. Berekum Chelsea are on a roll, enjoying a fine start to the season.
Seen as dark horses before the season began, the club has proven they are credible contenders. The Blues are spearheaded by 2016 league top-scorer, Kofi Owusu. Against all odds, Chelsea travelled to the three most successful clubs in the league and picked up maximum points almost without flinching.
Between the sticks is 16-year-old national youth team goalkeeper, Ibrahim Danlad, on loan from Asante Kotoko – a move that’s proven to be a shrewd piece of business so far. That said, much of the credit should be given to their central defensive pair of Zackariah Fuseini and the experienced Ahmed Adams.
They have been the best defenders in the league by far, snuffing out every danger thrown at them. Chelsea’s title-winning campaign in 2010/11, saw the Blues record just three clean sheets in their opening five matches. This season, their five in five clean sheets is the joint-best in a top-flight campaign, along with Elmina Sharks’ seven matches without conceding last year in the Normalization Competition.
NEW GENERATION OF GOALKEEPERS
This year is a peculiar season for goalkeepers, as clubs have entrusted youngsters with starting berths. And even in one case, the armband!
Chelsea’s Danlad has started all five games without conceding. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Prince Asempa has been elevated to the role of captaincy at Bechem United after reclaiming the starting spot from the excellent Daniel Afadzawu. Asempa rose to fame a few years ago when he won the FA Cup with the club andhas since been tipped for greatness. This season has started on a good note for him, keeping three clean sheets in five matches.
WAFA, a club renowned for giving young footballers opportunities have also made Ferdinand Sabi Acquah, 22, their first choice goalie. He has recorded four clean sheets from five matches. Other notables include Dreams FC’s Peter Sarkodie, who has become a mainstay in goal at just 21 and Liberty Professionals’ 22-year old first choice, Shaibu Ganiwu.
Others such as Isaac Hagan (Karela United), Richard Atta (Hearts of Oak) and Frank Boateng (AshGold) have become first choices for their clubs after their exploits in the Normalization Cup and from the season before (particularly Karela’s Hagan).
None of them is above 26 and all are yet to hit their peak years. Boateng won the Tier 2 Cup with AshGold and in the process dislodged Robert Dabuo as the first choice, while Atta became the first goalie to keep seven successive clean sheets in the opening seven league matches.
Did you know that a greater number of GPL match venues witness goals in the final fifteen minutes of league matches?
Yes, they do, and it’s actually been the case in the last two years. Again, another parallel from the previous years is that teams tend to score a higher proportion of goals in the last fifteen minutes, before recess – that is to say, from the 30th minute.
But here’s a stark contrast: this season has witnessed a decrease in the number of goals scored just after recess (46th – 60th minutes), while it has culminated in the surge in the number of goals clubs score before the final fifteen (61st – 75th minutes) of league matches.
It remains to be seen how much changes the remaining weeks will bring to the periods within which goals are scored in the league.
Nana Owusu Ansah Doe is a Ghana Premier League blogger for #JoySports. Reach him on Twitter @AlfOwusu
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