The CAF Champions League ambition and the fear of relegation have always been crucial to the Onetouch Premier League, and this season will not be different.
However, it is the dynamics and the zeal with which the three newly promoted teams— Wise, Bechem Chelsea and Sporting Mirren— bring on board that could add extra value to the race, especially to the top.
Defending Champions, Asante Kotoko, face the usual threat from arch rivals, Accra Hearts of Oak, in-form Liberty Professionals and star-studded Kpando Hearts of Lions for the ultimate, but the “Reds” are confident the presence of Belgian Coach Maurice Cooreman can help them retain the trophy.
Kotoko's new sensation, Agyemang Badu, is burdened to meet the expectations of fans before an expected packed stadium as Kotoko take a giant lead towards a return to Africa.
The Porcupine Warriors begin their campaign with a gruelling clash against fellow Kumasi-based side, King Faisal.
However, the usual pre-match hype and predictions that herald such matches have gone missing. Perhaps last Wednesday's Black Stars international friendly against Tunisia could be the reason.
Faisal, who are without big signing aside Baba Amando, are expected to parade familiar faces against the tried and tested Kotoko side who still rue their inability to make it to the CAF Cup finals.
Veteran Coach, Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, is pushing the young Liberty team for the ultimate after failed attempts in the last two seasons.
Motivated by their two pre-season trophies at the expense of Kotoko and Hearts, Liberty believe they are better placed to win the trophy in their 11- year history.
They face Bechem Chelsea at the Ohene Djan Stadium. Chelsea, apart from having some Liberty players in their fold, also have their former head coach, Nii Noi Thompson.
“This is a team that is familiar with our style of play. But we will come up with something different to give us the needed victory on the day,” Coach Attuquayefio told the Graphic Sports.
Hearts will have to wait till Monday for their match against Sporting Mirren following some changes by the Professional League Board.
Following the closure of the El Wak Stadium for renovation works, the PLB has moved all Mirren home matches to Saturdays and mid-week matches to Thursdays. However, the opening match has been rescheduled for Monday (5:30 pm) to enable it to be shown live on GBS.
Lions have a difficult match against Arsenal at Berekum but are expected to count on the experience of Dan Yeboah for the needed magic, while Sekondi Hasaacas host All Stars.
Ashgold welcome RTU to Len Clay, Tema Youth trek to the Robert Mensah Stadium in Cape Coast as guests of All Blacks, while Kessben could give Wise a 'baptism of fire' at Abrankese.
Preview by Daniel Kenu