Earlier today, I had the pleasure of watching Real Tamale United FC against Berekum Chelsea FC during Week 11 of the GLO Premier League 2012-2013. The match produced five goals and the away-side drew the longest straw, winning 3-2.
RTU took the lead when Emmanual Kwamena hammered home a free-kick from about 25-30 meters. The ball took an awkward bounce but goalkeeper John Mosi should have done better.
Chelsea reduced the score when the brilliant Richard Kissi Boateng used his pace down the left channel and played a delicate pass to top scorer Latif Salifu who scored from close range. Jordan Opoku gave the away team the lead, hammering home from about 11 meters after good combination play. Abdul Aziz Yusif equalized for RTU. A Chelsea-defender miscalculated a long ball, leaving Yusif alone with goalkeeper Michael Sai. Yusif beat Sai with a cool finish. The winning goal for Chelsea came after beautiful work from Latif Salifu on the left flank. Salifu passed to Mussa Mohammed and the giant striker from Niger hammered the ball in the net, needing two attempts.
Collins Addo was in goal for RTU, playing against his former club. Addo kept RTU in the match with quite a few spectacular saves. It seems likely that RTU will face relegation but Addo, an athletic goalkeeper with good shot stopping ability, belongs at top level of Ghanaian football.
The hard-tackling Saani Mohammed played at left-back while Gordon Yeboah played at right-back. Yeboah had a hard time against the excellent left-side of Berekum Chelsea FC. He was eventually substituted for attacking midfielder Aminu Mohammed, formerly of AshantiGold SC.
The strongman Richard Ocran had a good game at centre-back, playing alongside Evans Odoom. Odoom started his first match of the season. I got a good impression of Ocran who fought hard but struggled with the pacy attackers of Chelsea.
Captain Abdulai Abdul Karim controlled the midfield together with the defensive strongman Mohammed Fuseini. Fatawu Yakubu was substituted for Isaac Blankson after approximately 15 minutes. 10 minutes before full time, Blankson was substituted for a player I think was referred to as “Anars Gani”.
Emmanuel Kwamena played up-front, together with wide-men Abdul Aziz Yusif (born 10.11.1991) and Isaac Twumasi. I had been looking forward to observe Kwamena, a player who was instrumental to the success of RTU last season, when the club won promotion to the GLO Premier League. Kwamena, often attacking from a deep-lying role, played with confidence, trying to do spectacular things with the ball. Most goalkeepers would have saved his free-kick but Kwamena deserves credit for the powerful and accurate shot. Twumasi had a quiet day while Yusif, arguably the best player at RTU, was lively and hard-working, as he always is. Yusif has a lot of quality and is a handful for every defence.
John Mosi started the match in goal for Berekum Chelsea FC. He had a quiet game until lack of consentration and a poor pitch made the youngster concede a simple free-kick goal. Mosi was substituted for Michael Sai, making his top level debut, during half-time. Sai, signed from Nania FC, is a highly regarded goalkeeper with experience from the Ghana U-20 national football team.
Abdul Rashid, formerly of Bechem United FC, made his debut for Berekum Chelsea FC at the left-back. Last season, Rashid had a brilliant time at Bechem United FC, despite facing relegation. Rashid is a tall, powerful full-back with an excellent left-foot, good crosses and one of the longest throws in the GLO Premier League. At right-back, youngster Samuel Kyere (born 06.08.1992) was back in the starting eleven after seven games on the sidelines. Kyere is a modern-style, attacking minded full-back who showed good understanding with key midfielder Solomon Asante at the right-wing. Awudu Nafiu (born 02.12.1989) and Edward Kpodo (born 14.01.1990) played at centre-back while captain Jackson Owusu (born 15.10.1988) shielded the defenders in a defensive midfield role. Nafiu is a rugged defender, strong in the air and hard in the tackles. Kpodo is somewhat more cultured and arguably one of the finest defenders in the league. Owusu is an intelligent player who focuses strongly on his defensive responsibilities. Owusu was substituted for iron-man Yaw Alexander (born 06.01.1987).
Jordan Opoku (born 08.10.1984) was dictating the play from a central midfield role, distributing passes to Richard Kissi Boateng (born 25.11.1988) at the left-wing and Solomon Asante at the right-wing. From my point of view, Boateng was the man of the match. Boateng, formerly of Liberty Professionals FC, has traditionally been regarded as a left-back but as he has a lot of attacking qualities, he has been moved further up the field. Boateng is extremely fast and is also able to run with the ball and dribble at high speed, making him a nightmare to meet in one-on-one situation. At times, he was an absolutely delight to watch. Boateng was involved in two of the goals and has an assist when Latifu scored Chelsea’s first. He often chose to run into the box instead of crossing, which caused a lot of havoc in the RTU defence. Boateng has been picked in the Ghana preliminary squad before the 2013 African Nations Cup. Today, it was easy to see why. At the other side, Solomon Asante had a great game, impressing with his hard work, excellent skills and accurate passes and crosses. Asante is a dead-ball specialist, both from free-kicks and corners. Asante could also be heading for the 2013 African Nations Cup.
Up-front, Chelsea paired Abdul Wahab and Latif Salifu (born 01.08.1990). Salifu has more of a free role, often wandering from the left to the right and picking up the ball deep in midfield. Salifu is one of the fastest players in Ghana and showed a lot of quality, dribbling his way past his markers. Salifu scored his sixth goal of the season and he is the top scorer of the team. Salifu has been on fire since joining Chelsea from Liberty Professionals FC. Wahab, formerly of King Faisal Babes and AZAM FC (Tanzania) created a few chances but never looked as dangerous as Salifu. Wahab was substituted for giant striker Mussa Mohammed who turned out to be the matchwinner. Mohammed, from Niger, played his first match of the season.