Sunday, July 26, 2009

GLO Premier League Fun

The couple of weeks out of country afforded yet more opportunities to continue my football tourism in Ghana. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Actually, check that, perhaps the appropriate term is "fortunately" as both fixtures I had hoped to intend were marred by ugly incidents that remain an integral part of a beautiful game in that country.

I flew into Accra too late to catch Hearts of Oak's third to last fixture of the season. Frustration with the squad's performance since the Eleven Wise tie boiled over at a match that led to another draw against an inferior side (Bechem Chelsea), and fans rushed the field after the game reportedly assaulting an assistant referee and sending him to the hospital.

I was in Agona-Swedru on Sunday, when the penultimate fixtures would be played, but could not sneak out to Swedru Sports Stadium to watch the Gamba All Blacks host Eleven Wise. Not that it mattered, as no one got to watch the match that day after it was postponed following "acts of violence" from Gamba's supporters which prevented Eleven Wise's players from entering the stadium half an hour before kickoff. The match was eventually played midweek, by which time I had no interest in going back to Swedru, even if the chance to watch a Ghanaian league team owned by a Japanese politician and run by a Korean front office was unlikely to present itself again.

In the end, after all matches were played, Hearts of Oak retained the season title because Kotoko floundered after going top before the final two games of the season. The All-Blacks were not, despite some promise given by an eventual victory over Sekondi a few days delayed, able to stave off relegation. However, since league titles in Ghana are won (and places in the top league lost) as much in court as they are on the pitch, this may yet still change despite the last game having been played.

Instead of seeing anything live, my total experience with football in the country on this trip involved watching a terribly boring friendly between Liverpool and St. Gallen at a bar, a replay of the far more entertaining Nigerian FA Cup match between the Port Harcourt Sharks and Eyimba, a bunch of shows on Kenyan and Zambian professional league soccer, and short glances of an academy match played on a dirt field that did not want for talent:

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