Emmanuel Kotei has joined Asante kotoko from Nsoatreman FC
Emmanuel Kotei has joined Asante kotoko from Nsoatreman FC

New signings, managerial shake-ups herald Premier League return

DOMESTIC football takes centre stage this weekend as the second round of the Ghana Premier League gets underway with some clubs chasing championship glory or strategising to stave off relegation fears.


As football fans eagerly anticipate the action-packed showdown set to unfold beginning today, the league is poised for intense competition.

During the league's month-long hiatus due to the Africa Cup of Nations, the player transfer market witnessed significant activity, as clubs seized the opportunity to make significant signings to bolster their squads for the challenges ahead. The influx of new talent promises to inject fresh energy and dynamism into the top-flight competition.

In addition to player acquisitions, managerial changes also took place, with clubs making important appointments to provide new technical direction. Notable among these changes is the surprising appointment of Ivorian coach Aboubakar Ouattara by Hearts of Oak, signalling a shift in strategy, while city rivals Great Olympics opted for change by parting ways with veteran coach, Daniel Annor Walker. The impact of these managerial alterations and squad reinforcements will begin to unfold as the clubs take to the field this weekend.

Venue changes

Additionally, venue changes add another dimension to the upcoming matches, with the unavailability of Accra Sports Stadium during the 13th African Games leading teams such as Hearts, Olympics and Accra Lions to relocate their home matches to the WAFA Park at Sogakope.

Similarly, ongoing works on the playing field of the Aliu Mahama Stadium have forced clubs such as Real Tamale United and Karela United to move their home games to the Naa Sheriga Sports Centre in Nalerigu.

One team hoping for a turnaround is struggling Heart of Lions, who return to their traditional home ground, Kpando Park, under the guidance of experienced coach Bashir Hayford. Their journey to climb from the bottom spot on the league table commences with a crucial match against Asante Kotoko this afternoon, with the home side aiming to make a winning start having held Kotoko to a scoreless draw in Kumasi in the first round.

Kotoko rediscovered their mojo in the latter part of the second round and went seven games unbeaten, yet Coach Prosper Narteh Ogum has signed Emmanuel Kotei from Nsoatreman FC to strengthen the team. The right-back provides the Porcupine Warriors additional options on the right side of the team as Coach Ogum has given the opportunity for Sampson Asamoah, Augustine Agyapong and Justice Blay to operate from the right side of the pitch. 

After scoring the winning goal with a man-of-the-match performance as Kotoko defeated Nsoatreman FC 2-1 to win the J.A. Kufuor Cup last Saturday, Kotoko will look up to Ugandan forward Steven Mukwala Desse for more influential performances in the second round, having scored eight league goals -- the forward with the most away goals in the competition this season.

Hearts' new coach will be under pressure to lead the Phobians to a good run and lift them from the 11th spot to contend for the title after a disappointing first round under the command of Dutchman Martinus Koopman and his Ghanaian replacement, Abdul Bashiru, as a caretaker.

 Ouattara, who previously had stints with rival Kotoko, faces his first test on home ground as Hearts host Real Tamale United at the Accra Sports Stadium tomorrow, seeking redemption for their 0-1 defeat in the first round in Tamale and also breaking a chain of recent defeats —RTU have beaten Hearts in their last four clashes since their 0-0 draw on February 13, 2022.

Before Coach Ouattara's arrival, the Phobians signed goalkeepers Kwadwo Osei Bonsu, Kwesi Nketia from Susubiribi SC and Sharif Shuib to provide more competition in a department where Richard Attah remains the first choice goalie.

Awako back to Oly

While Olympics parted ways with Coach Walker, they reunited with midfielder Gladson Awako and signed on Black Starlets forward Benjamin Tsivanyo and Godfred Asiamah to support Micheal Osei upfront and give the team the right balance in midfield and in attack.

The Wonder Club trek to Sunyani tomorrow to battle Bofoakwa Tano who return to Coronation Park after serving home bans for crowd violence. Boafoakwa started the season well bu lost steam and saw the exit of coach Frimpong Manso. This time Coach John Eduafo and his captain Saaka Dauda will be expected to provide the inspiration and the right results beginning with tomorrow's encounter with 12thplaced Olympics after the two sides settled for a scoreless draw in the first round in Accra.

League leaders Samartex 1996 FC will be looking to continue their impressive run in the second round and have reinforced the team with Emmanuel Owusu Boakye who joined the Samreboi based side from Karela United. He is expected to partner Baba Hamadu Musa and Evans Osei Wusu in attack as they aim to build on their record of eight consecutive home wins in the league.

Samartex FC will be in action on Monday as they travel to Dormaa Ahenkro to battle second-placed Aduana Stars at the Nana Agyemang Badu Park with the result likely to impact the top spot on the log.

Defending champions Medeama SC traded their top marksman Jonathan Sowah, who scored four goals in eight games, to a Libyan side and brought in former Karela United forward Diawisie Taylor alongside Kamaradini Mamudu, Kofi Asmah, Godknows Dzakpasu, Azariah Fordjour, Derrick Fordjour and Theophilus Anoba who are all available for the second round of the league under the guidance of new Bosnian head coach, Nebojsa Kapor.

Nations FC made a good start to their debut campaign as they ended the first round in fourth position.

Experienced coach Kasim Mingle Ocansey has reunited with his former Bechem United defensive midfielder Abdul Karim to strengthen the squad for the second round.

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