Veteran coach, Josef Emmanuel Sarpong has described the ongoing Ghana Premier League as more competitive and exciting than the previous season's league which was cancelled last June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says the impressive performances by clubs such as Karela United, Dreams FC and Great Olympics have contributed to the excitement generated in the competition which reached its halfway mark last Sunday with Karela on top of the league log.
Sarpong, who has handled many of the elite clubs including Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko and Olympics, told the Daily Graphic that despite the outstanding performance of Anyinase-based Karela, it would be difficult for the team to beat off strong challenge in the second round of the competition from traditional giants such as Hearts, Kotoko or Medeama SC to win the 2020/ 21 Ghana Premier League trophy.
He was even impressed with the achievements of less endowed sides such as Karela, Olympics and Techiman Eleven Wonders whose performances were beyond his expectation.
"They have performed very creditably and generated keen interest in the league and made it very competitive.
“However, it is very easy to get on top of the league ladder but very difficult to continue staying at the top,” Coach Sarpong told the Daily Graphic in his assessment of the first round.
“Karela’s stay on top can come under threat when the second round begins. This is because every team wants to be there so they would be the target of many of the participating teams, especially Kotoko, Hearts, Medeama and Dreams FC.”
When pushed to predict possible winners of the league, Coach Sarpong listed Kotoko, third-placed Medeama, fourth-placed Hearts and seventh-placed Bechem United as favourites, with former champions Ashgold and Aduana, as well as Dreams as the underdogs.
“Kotoko, Hearts and Medeama are likely to improve on their performances when the second round begins. With 17 more matches and 51 points to fight for, the league would be more competitive and considering their experience as traditional clubs, they will go all out to battle for the trophy at stake,” he explained.
However, he expressed concern about the poor performance of King Faisal and Elmina Sharks, 16th and 13th on the league log respectively, saying financial constraints had militated against their performances.
Sarpong attributed the competitiveness of the league partly to improved officiating by referees which had inspired teams to be more adventurous in away matches knowing they would be offered a level playing field by referees.