STEADILY but speedily, AshantiGold SC are driving close to their first Premier League title in nearly two decades.
It is 19 years of agonizing wait. But pretty soon, it could be over.
The Miners have opened up a three-point gap off the chasing pack and with only three games left to end a very challenging season, they might snatch the Holy Grail even before their last away game with Accra Great Olympics in Accra.
However, that dream, to a large extent will depend on the ‘Aboakese’ club’s own doughty character and fighting spirit as they storm Berekum tomorrow as guests of Berekum Arsenal (40 points) who are eight points adrift their marauding opponents.
Though Ashgold appear to be cast in apple-pie order and determined to break the ‘stygian silence’ in the First Capital Plus Premier League (FCPPL), the club’s punctilious boss Kudjo Fianoo, is not taking things for granted.
“I strongly believe the time to reverse that debacle is now or never. However, let me be quick to add that we can only be cautiously optimistic. What we need now is full concentration and focus.
“At this crucial point, we do not need anybody to tell us to keep our guard up and make sure nothing is left to chance,” Mr. Fianoo told the Spectator Sports.
Indeed, Chelsea have been a niggling pain in the neck of Ashgold over the years, utterly denying them the ‘golden’ opportunity to win the league title in 2010. Ashgold at the time needed only a solitary point to clinch it, but Chelsea ruthlessly pierced in the stiletto that eventually handed Aduana a stunning victory on the final day.
It does not seem like history repeating itself though, as Aduana (45 points) journey into the lion’s den in Kpando to face badly-wounded and relegation-threatened Heart of Lions (34 points) in a match the home team has dubbed ‘bubble or bust.’
But the Ashgold backline must keep the lid on strikers Kofi Owusu, who has 14 goals to his credit as well as teammate Stephen Baffuor (12 goals). The two have banged in 26 goals in the league and nobody can take their menace in the box for granted.
The Lions lie in 13th position and know only victory can give them a lifeline as they fight off the drop. Indeed, it would take Aduana a fight of Himalayan proportions to be able to survive in Kpando. There is no scintilla of doubt about that assertion.
Wonder club Accra Great Olympics (34 points) have also mounted a frenetic campaign to escape relegation and they appear to be on course as they managed to hold Aduana to a stirring 1-1 drawn game in Dormaa last Sunday.
It was a game many had completely ruled out Oly, but it had to take a late penalty for Aduana to ‘steal’ a point. Without doubt, that Dormaa performance could goad Oly to beat an imposing WAFA side (40 points) at the Accra Sports Stadium tomorrow in a match many cannot wait to see.
Accra Hearts of Oak (35 points) will be seeking for a third successive victory as they storm the Tarkwa T&A Park as guests of Medeama (37 points). They Phobians played relatively well against Bechem United (34 points) in their 1-0 win in Accra – a result that took them out of the relegation.
Nonetheless, Hearts’ points build-up is still not enough to put them out of harm’s way and they need to upstage Medeama in their own territory to be safe. It looks a very tall order for Hearts since the home team cannot be sure of their future either in the top flight should they falter in front of their pet crowd.
While Hearts would be banking hopes on their Togolese import Foovi Aguidi and to an extent midfield gem Thomas Abbey to make their game tick, their hosts will once again lean on the striking finesse of the season’s leading goal-scorer Nathaniel Asamoah (18 goals) to deliver the goods. A taut-tight afternoon of football is guaranteed as the side with a better conversion rate likely to carry the day.
In other tricky engagements, Liberty Professionals (37 points) after their vintage 2-1 away victory over Wa All Stars (38 points), take on Inter Allies (41 points) in a cagey game at the Carl Reindorf Park that favours the home team.
Edubiase United (35 points) will also welcome Sekondi Hasaacas (39 points) to the Len Clay Stadium in another must-win game for the home side, while under-pressure Bechem United entertain All Stars at Bechem.
Resurgent Kumasi Asante Kotoko (39 points) return to their favourite Baba Yara Stadium to engage relegated BA United (19 points), expecting not only the maximum points but a goal feast to compensate for the earlier misery of their ever-loyal contingent.