It came as no surprise to Asante Kotoko fans when Kwame Opoku scored the first goal of the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League season for the Porcupine Warriors.
Kotoko fans had to wait for 55 minutes before seeing their new signing from Nkoranza Warriors score his first official goal for the club.
The reason the goal came as no surprise was because he was in imperious form heading into the season scoring six goals in five friendly games.
What skipped most fans is that Opoku was dusting off what will later become a signature pattern as the season progresses when he scored against Eleven Wonders in the season opener.
The goal was all about Opoku who chose to press the Wonders defence after the referee restarted play. The 21-year-old was rewarded as he won the ball in dangerous territory and quickly slotted home to give Kotoko the lead.
In the Porcupines’ next game against Berekum Chelsea, Opoku was starved once again and scored his only chance through feeding off scraps in a move which saw him roll the ball just across the goal line.
The earlier stated signature pattern was once again regurgitated against Liberty when the striker scored a brace. His first goal was purely down to his reaction speed after a clearance by the Liberty defender.
After which Opoku controlled with his chest and smashed the ball to the top corner with the help of a deflection.
Fabio Gama’s well-weighted lofted pass played a role in the second goal, however Opoku still had to control the ball amidst pressure from two defenders and manoeuvre his way to get a chance to shoot.
In Opoku’s last game against King Faisal, his only clear cut chance came from him chasing a poor defensive header which saw him go past the goalkeeper only to see his effort cleared off the line.
In essence, majority of Opoku’s goals were scored with a lot more brute force than the average striker would have needed.
This in no way suggests that Kotoko are a bad side, it rather gives an idea as to which type of player fits the rather conservative approach by the Porcupines.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the 23-time Ghana Premier League champions have conceded just seven goals after the first round this season.
However, such compactness comes with a compromise as despite leading the way for defensive statistics, the Porcupine Warriors have scored 13 goals – a record only better than that of Liberty and Inter Allies who are both in the relegation zone.
As a result, Kotoko need a trusted finisher upfront because they barely create any chances upfront during games.
So far, Opoku had scored all the big chances that have come his way this season. The only exception was the goalless draw against AshGold when the 21-year-old missed a couple of 1v1s.
Bar that game, Opoku has been starved of clear cut chances in games but he is the type of striker who makes something out of nothing.
His constant running from out to in and vice versa has been his trademark for a while now.
It was that same run that got him his goal against Kotoko in the 2019 Normalisation Special Cup when he was playing for Nkoranza Warriors.
Opoku has continually repeated that type of run this season and has scored the three times he was picked out.
The pictures above are just the starting points of the sequence leading to the stirker’s goals.
Surprisingly, despite most of Opoku’s runs starting outside of the box, all of his goals in the league have been in the penalty box.
Below is a goalmap of where the 21-year-old scored all of his goals from.
Opoku is a mix breed of a striker with pace and ability to finish off moves in the box. He plays off the shoulder and can find space in the box to score as well.
The former Nkoranza Warriors forward averages just over two touches after receiving an assist before he scores for Kotoko demonstrating the sharpness he possesses.
His seven goals this season represent 53.8% of Kotoko’s goals in the league so far, emphasizing on the over reliance on the striker.
Beyond that, the 21-year-old won seven points with his seven goals. Hypothetically, Kotoko would move from contending for the title to fighting relegation without his goals.
Opoku leaves Kotoko after making such a huge impact in a short spell. He joins USM Alger as he embarks on a huge journey.
For Kotoko, the boots left to fill are wide. One that perhaps Naby Keita, Solomon Sarfo Taylor or a new signing will have to fill.
Alternatively, the Porcupines could also deploy a more expansive approach allowing other team members to get in on the goal action.
The choice is one for the Kotoko technical team. Whatever the case, Kwame Opoku will be a difficult player to replace.
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