Sports News of Monday, 16 April 2018
It’s gonna be a brutal schedule for the Northern Blues.
After checking the next five fixtures of all the 16 teams, and based on the difficulty, opposition form, travel, and so on, Wa All Stars emerged as the team with the most difficult task.
By this time last season, the former league champions had gone from 13th on the league table in week 5 to fourth in week 7, following a three-game winning streak after starting slowly because of their continental duties.
This season, with only the Premier League to think about, nothing seems to be going according to plan for the former champions who have managed just a victory in seven games (W3 D2 L1). They’ve just lost their matchday 7 fixture to newcomers Karela FC 1-0 in Wa on Sunday.
This poor run of form started under Mumuni Sokpori, who began the season with them. After three matchdays, he was summarily sacked. Yet, under new coach Sarfo Castro, things have not been better. And, by our analysis, things will become even more difficult, looking at their next five games.
Week 8: vs Bechem United (A)
In week eight, Wa All Stars would be on the road to Fosu Gyeabour to play Bechem United. What makes this a difficult fixture? All Stars terrible record on the road this season. They have yet to pick a point in three away games (lost 1-0, 1-0 and 3-1 to AshGold, Dreams and Hearts). Fosu Gyeabour is more like a lion’s den for the home side, who have dropped just two points there – once, unsurprisingly, against the then unbeaten leaders AshGold (1-1). Apart from that, Bechem have won the other two, 2-0 against Medeama and 2-1 against Dreams FC.
Week 9: vs Kotoko (H)
The Northern Blues return home in week nine against Kotoko. Just like Wa All Stars, the Porcupine Warriors are dismal travellers. Before facing Dreams on Sunday, Kotoko had picked just a point (drawing 1-1 with WAFA) from a possible nine (lost 1-0 and 2-0 to Medeama and AshGold respectively).
This is one game we believe Wa All Stars would fancy a win in. It may as well be the catalyst to turn their season around because a win against Kotoko means more than just the three points. Confidence-wise, it can propel them to do very well in the subsequent matches. However, defeat at home they enter their next game staring relegation in the face.
Week 10: vs Liberty (A)
This could be a tricky fixture depending on so many factors would come into play in this fixture. Liberty would be returning home from a trip to Berekum Chelsea where, they’d likely lose. But should Liberty win at the Golden City, they get back to Dansoman buoyed. A defeat still means, they would view the game vs All Stars as a must win. No matter what, it’s a stick or twist situation.
Week 11: vs Aduana (H)
From Liberty, the Northerners then host free-scoring Aduana Stars. The Ogya side have seen their domestic league season interrupted by continental assignments. They didn’t play in weeks one and five against Liberty Professionals and Medeama respectively, but their bullish form at home has kept them within touching distance of leaders AshGold. Wa All Stars simply would need to make home comforts count. To play Bechem United away, Kotoko at home, Liberty away and Aduana at home is a difficult schedule for the Northerners who are already in serious trouble. They have no breathing space because games are coming up fast and furious and they are all tough ones.
Week 12: vs WAFA (A)
The Northerners complete their series of five games with another trip to play WAFA. Again, their away form would be a deciding factor, apparently. It is a common knowledge how good and dangerous WAFA are at home. They haven’t been convincing themselves this season even in front of their own fans. They have lost at home to Medeama in week six which was the first time it had happened in 47 games. Prior to the game against Medeama, they had picked four points at home (drew 1-1 vs. Kotoko and beat Aduana 2-0) but WAFA at home to any side is a tough one let alone a team like Wa All Stars who have been far from their best. They just might do great in the games against Bechem United, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Liberty Professionals and Aduana Stars prior to the date with WAFA or situations for Wa All Stars would have gone from bad to worse.
How can they deal with the pressure?
Considering this tough schedule especially with regards to the away games against Bechem United, Liberty Professionals and WAFA plus a home game in Wa with Kotoko, it would take some audacious conviction to pronounce an unscathed adventure for the struggling Northerners. But, as the football cliché goes football is full of uncertainties, it would also be too early to write Wa All Stars completely off. They have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. One of them obviously, is their physical and mental fortitude. After their 1-1 drawn game with Elmina Sharks, their gaffer, Sarfo Castro raised concerns over their “endurance” level.
“The endurance of the boys is not encouraging but we are still a work in progress so I hope we will improve by the time we play our next match,” said Castro.
Again, the former champions must improve on their ball retention skills. Retaining possession doesn’t mean gain the majority of the ball. It simply means, using the ball cleverly in prime areas.
Losing the ball in areas which would directly lead to goal concession would be detrimental to their quest to salvage their season. Doing the simple things right and becoming adventurous would be crucial and priceless, especially on the road. Tactically and technically, they must be very sound and aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Fashioning out a near perfect game plan to aid their obvious lack of creativity and goal scoring. Shutting up the shop is also going to aid their survival or better their place on the league log because at some point, it would come down to goal difference.
It must be noted that, teams like Medeama and Ashanti Gold will travel four times in the next six games, but, Wa All Stars have the most hectic fixtures coming up because of their form and their opponents at home and in away games.
Maybe it is about to get ugly for the former champions, or maybe not. They have been in the elite league for a while and even won it, so, they ought to be able to navigate their route through the inevitable stormy periods ahead unscathed.