Royal Men, Exchequers on fire
Royal Men of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and local rivals Exchequers of Bank of Ghana set the Abuja Hockey Stadium on fire last Saturday during their opening matches of the 2018 Africa Cup for Club Championship to send a strong signal that Ghanaian sides will be in strong contention for honours this year.
While GRA men came from behind to hold 2017 men’s champions, El Sharkia of Egypt, to a 4-4 draw, Exchequers piped their Nigerian opponents Kada Stars 1-0 in a match that the Ghanaians could have won by a wider margin if they had utilised the numerous goal scoring opportunities that came their way.
Skipper Emmanuel Ankomah gave Exchequers a winning start at the tournament with the only goal of the match against the home side .
While fortune smiled at the men’s sides, the Ghanaian ladies wobbled into the tournament as defending champions, Royal Ladies of GRA were held to a scoreless draw by less fancied Kara Queens of Nigeria, with Police Ladies losing 1-2 to Telkom Orange of Kenya.
In spite of the Exchequers’ victory, it was the encounter between Royal Men and El Sharkia that lighted the stadium with a fine display of hockey artistry to the delight of fans.
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It was El Sharkia who raced into the lead early in the second quarter of the match with goals in the 26th and 29th minutes by Abdel Monim Mohamed and Ibrahim Mohamed Sameer, respectively.
With two goals down, GRA pushed more men into the territory of the Egyptian giants and succeeded in reducing the tally through attacker Michael Baiden in the 46th minute.
The goal brought out the best from the Ghanaian side who had the crowd behind them as Baiden capitalised on a defensive blunder by Sharkia and flicked the ball behind Abdelrahman Emam in post for the Egyptian team for his second goal and also to level up the scores.
Kwasi Anim Ansah finished off a beautiful combination with Michael Akuamoah-Boateng deep in the territory of Sharkia with Ansah’s flick hitting the back of the net to give Royal Men an equalising goal.
Sensing danger that they could lose to a Ghanaian side for the first time, the Egyptians hit back and snatched the equaliser through Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed in the 56th minute.
Three minutes later, Ahmed Ahmed Gamal gave the Egyptians their fourth goal before Ernest Kofi Obeng Poku converted a penalty corner to give GRA a deserving point.
The Ladies division saw Royal Ladies of GRA sharing the points with KADA Queens, with Police Ladies losing 1-2 to Telkom Orange of Kenya.
Telkom opened the scoring through Jacquiline Wangeci Jow through a penalty corner in the fifth minute but Police Ladies hit back strongly and equalised through Martha Safoah in the 46th minute.
Two minutes later the former champions restored the lead to open the tournament on a bright note.
Yesterday, there were mixed fortunes for the Ghanaian side as Royal Men defeated Niger Flickers but there was no joy for Exchequers who lost 1-2 to Eastern Company.
This afternoon, Royal Men come face to face with Exchequers, while Police Ladies play Kada Queens.