IN-DEPTH: Team-by-team analysis of the Zone One Premiership slot battle
With four games to finish the National Division One League season, Sportsmrnews.com team has been going in hard on the permutations at the top of the league standings and the teams with the golden chances to make it to the Premiership. The focus now will be on the title race.
Flash back to the first round of the season, where Berekum Arsenals, Bofoakwa Tano, RTU, Tamale City and Tamale Steadfast FC all battled each other on who really needs to be at the top of the table.
It was only a matter of time, at the beginning of the season, the race for the title was very predictable with RTU, Bofoakwa Tano and Berekum Arsenals showing early signs of consistency for about five to seven games until their miraculous drop in form.
Only a point separate first -placed RTU (53) from second-placed Bofoakwa Tano (52) and two points also separates second-placed Bofoakwa Tano from rivals Berekum Arsenals (50)
To put things in perspective, fans should not concentrate solely on the relegation battle as the race to gain promotion to the Ghanaian topflight will definitely be decided on the last day.
There is no clear-cut lead on the log now, with three teams closely challenging for the Premiership slot, whiles Steadfast and Tamale City also following closely with a limited potential chance to launch a challenge.
Looking at the last four games
Real Tamale United
If history is anything to go by, then RTU would undoubtedly will make it to the Premiership, the last time they qualified to the Ghanaian topflight it was a victory at the Berekum Golden City Park that set the tone for them to gain promotion.
The pride of the north face B.A United in Berekum before travelling back home to face City rivals Steadfast FC in what is expected to be the match of the season. It will be make or break for either side as a win for RTU will see them edge closer to the title. The next final two games will be a tricky derby game at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium against relegation battlers Yendi Gbewaa FC and a finish off at home to Unity FC who also desperately need the points to stay in the league.
Coach Shaibu Tanko’s men knows that a drop in points at Berekum would be an obstacle to their qualification, and so it will be a do or die affair for the formal club of Ghana’s all time best player Abedi Ayew Pele.
They definitely would not want Bofoakwa Tano or Arsenals to pipped them to the title and subsequently the slot.
RTU has one of the best attacking players in the Zone, Ronald Frimpong since joining them from Nzema Kotoko has been in good scoring form, and has so far scored nine goals, he is currently the leading scorer in the team.
Other players such as Fauzan Alhassan Dandawa, Mohammed Sadat, Mustapha and Yakubu Labandow have all scored match winning goals for the team, which has made RTU a great threat to many clubs.
And also, considering Arsenals and Bofoakwa Tano playing each other on the final day, Real Tamale United will have a 9/10 chance to make it to the Premiership after 8-years of absence.
The hunters has been making headlines since the beginning of the season, with their star Striker Welbeck Takyi being the front runner in their hot form.
Their stats against their closed contenders has made them one of the favourites to make a return to the Premiership.
Led by Welbeck Takyi, they have only failed to beat RTU and Berekum Arsenals with the later yet to honour their second round fixture against them, they managed to beat Tamale City 3-1 at home, with Welbeck Takyi having a hand in all three goals.
They currently trailed leaders RTU by a point with 52 points, their last four matches will be a home game against relegation battlers Paga Crocodiles, before traveling to play Wa Suntaa SC at the Wa Sports Stadium, and another home game against Mighty Royals and finally finished off with a fierst contest against fellow Promotion Chasers Berekum Arsenals.
They have the second best defense in the zone after Berekum Arsenals (14) interms of goals conceded with only 15.
Chance to qualify: 8/10
If late form is what would define Berekum Arsenals season, then their chances of gaining promotion will be great considering their last three wins against fellow Promotion Chasers Tamale City FC, Real Tamale United and relegation scraps Paga Crocodiles.
Striker Ansu Kofi Patrick is currently in hot form, the 25- year old is currently the leading scorer in the Zone with 15 goals, 5 assist and four MVP awards.
His growing form has since linked him to a number of top clubs, and should he continue in his scoring form, then it would boost his sides chances of snatching the slot away from RTU and Bofoakwa who are currently lying ahead of them in the league standings.
They have conceded on 14 goals so far making them the best defensive team so far in the zone.
Final four matches, home= Wa Suntaa SC, away= Mighty Royals, Home= Nsoatreman FC and another home game against rivals Bofoakwa Tano.
Chance to qualify: 7/10
A team owned by Ghana’s minority leader in parliament was in sparkling form in the first round, with twice climbing to the top of the table, until recently they were a team with the best attack in the zone, but the inconsistency of Star player Abdul Fataw Issahaku in the team due to National teams call up’s has negatively affected their performance.
The Gangdu boys as they are affectionately called, has two of their players scoring over 10 goals, with forward Alhassan Siisu scoring 12 goals and Abdul Fataw Issahaku netting 11 times.
They are fourth on the league standings with 47 points, six points behind leaders RTU and trails Bofoakwa Tano and Berekum Arsenals by five and three points respectively.
Their chances of qualifying will have to do with the slipped of the top three teams which logically looks impossible.
Chance to qualify: 4/10
Statistically Tamale City still have a lifeline to qualify, but logically they have a Zero chance to make it.
Ten points separate them from first placed Real Tamale United, and with Bofoakwa Tano, Berekum Arsenals and Steadfast FC all in the running, it will only be a mischievous fortune faith that will dare think of given them a chance.
Coach Hamza Mohammed’s side would only have themselves to blame for their current position.
They ended the first round without conceding to a defeat against any of their Premiership slot challengers, but a recent defeats at home to Berekum Arsenals and an away defeat to Bofoakwa Tano left them crippled with no chance to mount a challenge.
Final four matches: Away= Steadfast FC, Home= Gbewaa FC, Away= Unity FC, Home= Techiman City
This race for the title is very complicated. Any of the top three teams can annex the title and there after gain promotion to the Premier League.
The positives we can take out of this will be how exciting this last four games will be, the drama and tension will certainly highlight the competitiveness of our league this season.
So long as we have fairness in officiating and create no room for match fixing, it will definitely set up a grand finale on the final day.
By Saaka Yakubu Issah