The overly delayed 2016/17 GPL football season will kick off this weekend sandwiched between two big CAF inter-club competition matches with GPL.
Champions – Wa All Stars and MTN FA Cup Champions – Bechem United making their continental debut against Al-Ahly Tripoli and MC Alger respectively.
All eyes will be on the matches involving the nation’s two most glamorous clubs – Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko – the former still without a head coach and the latter under the reins of new boss – Zdravko Logarusic.
Bolga All Stars and Elmina Sharks will receive their baptism into PL action, Tema Youth FC will be playing in place of Dreams FC after both sides resolved and changed slots following their dispute over promotion to tier one that dates back the 2014/15 Division One Zone 3 season, and Accra Gt. Olympics will mark another return to tier one soccer following their exit a couple of years ago.
Inter Allies vs Hearts of Oak – Accra (EL Wak Sports Stadium)
The ‘Eleven is to One’ side will be seeking a positive start to their campaign and to get one over regional neighbors Hearts of Oak. This fixture stood out last season, earning lots of plaudits as The Phobians rallied from two goals down to snatch a dramatic 3-2 win under Kenichi Yatsuhashi in the first round before both sides played to a 1-1 tie in the second half of the season.
The focus and intensity of the match may not be any different from last year’s as both sides press to get their campaign off to a flyer. Hearts of oak’s stop gap coach – Henry Wellington – will be in charge as the Phobians continue their search for a head coach.
Medeama vs WAFA – Tarkwa
Medeama SC have no continental football to distract them this season as was the case last term, and will host the Sogakope youngsters – WAFA – who will be showcasing another crop of exuberant youngsters.
Medeama and WAFA were relatively quiet during the pre-season, so it is a bit difficult to have a feel for their respective approach to this year’s campaign. But what I do know is both have seen the exits of some top stars – for Medeama, Akowuah, Donsu and Boahene have departed whilst WAFA are without the services of the influential duo of Gideon Waja and skipper Martin Antwi.
Medeama bettered WAFA 3-2 in Tarkwa last year.
Ebusua Dwarfs vs Bolga All Stars – Cape Coast
Mysterious Dwarfs are expected to make light work of debutante side – Bolga All Stars – at the Robert Mensah stadium. Dwarfs over the years have demonstrated supreme performance at home and it should be same on Sunday when Bolga All Stars visit.
Dwarfs will be without the services of their inspiring coach – Prosper Nartey – who was very instrumental in saving their season last year but has opted to trade the soccer fields for the lecture halls of University of Cape Coast from whence he made his coaching transition.
Aduana Stars vs Ashanti Gold – Dormaa
2015/16 GPL runner-ups – Aduana Stars – will be expected to grind out victory against Ashanti Gold in the top-liner of the first week as the two former Champions square off at Dormaa.
Aduana came close to winning the title last season and are highly fancied to make another run at the PL title. Victory on opening day will be the right signal to send other contenders.
AshGold cannot afford another horrid season, and will definitely fight hard to get their campaign off to a good start.
Tema Youth vs Berekum Chelsea – Tema
Back from the wilderness, Tema Youth, may well find it difficult to break former champions Berekum Chelsea at the Tema stadium. Chelsea held their own last season as they frustrated Inter Allies at the same venue and would be looking for a repetition at the expense of Harbor boys.
Asante Kotoko vs Liberty Professionals – Kumasi
Title favorites because of their pedigree, Kotoko will play host to Liberty Professionals in what promises to be an exciting match.
Kotoko have the upper hand going into this clash having won majority of their pre-season friendlies.
Coach Dravko Lugarusic must get his marquee signings including Kwame Boahene, Baba Mahama on top of their game on Sunday and to prevent any upset from Liberty.
The Porcupine Warriors swept the Liberty last season.
Wa All Stars vs Elmina Sharks – WA – Postponed
Olympics vs Bechem United – Accra – Postponed
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