The week 28 of the Ghana Premier League (GPL) which saw six local derbies being honoured at the various league centres became one of the most attractive pairings among football fans with the encounter involving city rivals, Accra Great Olympics and Accra Hearts of Oak, at the Accra Sports Stadium being the most attractive since the league started last year.
Having lost 0-2 to Olympics in the first round, and with the their arch rivals, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, close on their heels as they battle for the 2021 league title, Hearts were in no mood for back-to-back defeats to Olympics who are also in top form and believe they have a fair chance to win the title as the league enters the homestretch.
It was due to such an attraction that the Accra Sports Stadium on June 6 was filled beyond the 25 per cent capacity permitted under the Ghana Football Association's COVID-19 Match Day protocols.
In the end, the fans got their money’s worth as the two sides did not only sell out beautiful football to entertain them, but also saw the two teams splitting the points at stake with a well deserved 1-1 draw.
The week 28 local derbies also saw the Obuasi Len Clay Sports Stadium being filled to near capacity when Kumasi Asante Kotoko played host to their 'landlords' AshantiGold.
With AshantiGold struggling to cope with the momentum of the league, especially having lost to both Medeama SC and Legon Cities at Tarkwa and Obuasi, respectively, AshantiGold were determined to use Kotoko as the sacrificial lamb to appease their fans as they fight for a more respectable position on the league table.
At the end, it was Kotoko’s Brazilian star Fabio Gama dos Santos who made the difference between the two combatants as his 23rd minute goal handed Kotoko a 1-0 win and the three points at stake.
Gama, who is fast establishing himself as one of the most brilliant midfielders in the local league, did not only help Kotoko to dismiss the bluff of AshantiGold, but also won the Man of the Match Award to prove that given the opportunity, he could help Kotoko to reclaim their lost glory in domestic football and also fight for continental glory.
Another interesting local derby in the 28th week which produced outstanding results was the clash between Liberty Professionals and West Africa Football Academy (WAFA) which saw the Dansoman-based Liberty coming from behind to stun WAFA 3-2.
Struggling Liberty needed the points badly in their quest to escape the relegation net and were, therefore, highly motivated to go all out to battle for the points at stake.
The scientific soccer lads will have to fight hard to win a lot of matches if they are to escape relegation and remain in the elite division.
With football fans now eager to watch the local league as it gets more competitive even with COVID-19 match-day protocols in place, the league promises to be even more exciting at the homestretch
Last five matches
With five matches to complete the league, as many as eight teams are fighting for the trophy at stake. This is because with 15 points at stake, not even Hearts or Kotoko have a clear chance of annexing the trophy at stake.
Just as the battle for the top becomes even keener with each passing week, so is the relegation dogfight involving bottom club Inter Allies, King Faisal, Ebusua Dwarfs, Eleven Wonders and Liberty.
Among the top attractions that can cause fans to sit on thorns as the Home Stretch glides to a successful end is the 29th week encounter involving King Faisal and Accra Great Olympics, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Inter Allies, Accra Hearts of oak and Medeama, as well as those involving Karela United and Legon Cities. All these matches involve teams battling to escape relegation and those fighting for glory to win the trophy at stake.
The Kotoko encounter with Karela, Legon Cities and Accra Hearts of Oak match, Olympics match against Bechem United, Medeama’s encounter with King Faisal and Liberty Professionals' match against AshantiGold all slated for the 30th week will generate much interest among football fans who are likely to converge on the battle grounds to support their respective teams to fight for glory.
For that of week 31, the top of the attraction will involve King Faisal and Legon Cities, Inter Allies and Liberty Professionals, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Elmina Sharks and Great Olympics as well as that of AshantiGold and WAFA.
Just like the week 31 matches, that of week 32, especially, the match between city rivals, Kotoko and King Faisal, as well as the Dwarfs and Hearts match, Legon Cities and Bechem United match, and that of Olympics and Eleven Wonders matches are likely to attract football fans to the respective stadiums to support their teams.
For the week 33 pairings, the Hearts and Liberty match, Bechem United and Kotoko encounter, the King Faisal and Ebusua Dwarfs match, Olympics and Chelsea match, and that of Inter Allies and Aduana Stars matches will induce fans to troop to the stadiums to see how their teams will fare against their opponents.
For the week 34 matches, the WAFA and Accra Hearts of Oak encounter stands out as the most attractive likely to attract fans, just like that of Great Olympics and Dreams, Kotoko and Elmina Sharks match as well as the Liberty Professionals and King Faisal and the AshantiGold and Inter Allies matches.
It is interesting to observe that the 2020/21 Ghana Premier League is gradually turning out to be one of the most outstanding because with only six matches to go, it has become difficult to predict either the winner or teams likely to be caught in the relegation net.
These matches that promise to be exciting have added to the attraction of the league, and it is envisaged that the excitement will linger on until the last matches, which will make the league go down in history as one of the most keenly contested in recent times.