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21.11.2008 Football News

Bekoe's Reign Under Threat

Bekoe's Reign Under Threat

Reigning Goal King and Footballer of the Year, Eric Bekoe, will be under intense pressure to defend his two prized titles when the much-anticipated 2008/09 Onetouch Premier League season makes a flying start on Sunday.

Bekoe set a cracking pace with a flashy performance which made him a phenomenon, both in terms of attraction and goals in the past season, and will surely be the target of other equally high-performing stars like teammate Samuel Inkoom, Heart of Lions' new signing, Daniel Yeboah, David Anas who has just joined Accra Hearts of Oak from Hasaacas, Asante Kotoko's new striking duo of Louis Agyemang and Alex Asamoah, and others who will be eyeing the two top awards.

For winning the 2008 Glo Top 4 Best Player Award, Yeboah who now commands a first team place in the Black Stars, has a legitimate reference point to vindicate the bookmakers, just as sensational Anas banged in 13 goals in the second round of last season to establish his true potential.

Similarly, Inkoom whose impressive first season for Kotoko not only earned him call-ups into the Black Stars and Black Satellites but nearly won him the Best Defender Award as well, could display his full potential in the new season.

And after a three-year stint with Kaiser Chiefs of South Africa, Louis Agyemang who has finally crossed carpet from Hearts to sworn rivals Kotoko, will be expected to add a lot to the Porcupine Warriors' ambition to defend the title, as much as experienced Alex Asamoah also comes on board amid high expectation.

Another player who could steal the show from the rest is highly-talented Baba 'Armando' Adamu who has just made a surprise switch from Kotoko to city rivals, King Faisal.

Armando has all it takes to add a touch of class to this year's Premiership if only he could keep a cool head and shed off the controversial tag which has been hanging on his head all this while.

Black Stars' World Cup sensation, Habib Mohammed, who has joined Ashantigold from Wa All Stars also qualifies as a true candidate for the 'elite class' in this season's league.

Other strong outsiders who have what it takes to introduce an element of excitement into the goal king race are Liberty professionals' striking trio of Yaw Antwi, Sam Ayew Yeboah and Latif Salifu who were among the top scorers last season.

Beyond the individual exploits, it is the battle for the ultimate title which will be paramount on the agenda of all the 16 participating clubs as the lightweights and middleweights flex muscles with the heavyweights for supremacy.

Though the threat by Glo Top 4 champions, Liberty Professionals, to contend for the league title this time cannot be wished away, the searchlight will be directed on how fallen giants, Hearts, wake up from their slumber to wrest the trophy from Kotoko.

With the championship tally between Kotoko and Hearts now standing at 21 to 19 respectively, soccer fans and connoisseurs alike cannot wait to see whether the gap will be closed or widened at the end of another rollicking season.

Unlike Kotoko who will parade a solid quadruple striking line-up of Bekoe, Agyemang, Asamoah and Kojo Poku, the Phobians will be under pressure to impress their longsuffering followers this time after a poor season which saw them finishing eighth.

It is against this backdrop that the roles of the new expatriate trainers of Hearts and Kotoko, Kosta Papic and Maurice Cooreman, come into play as a lot will be expected of them as far as the league title is concerned.

Interestingly, the two white coaches seem to carry a common burden of impressing their employers with the league at least, with the 65-year-old Belgian Cooreman especially taking over from Bashir Hayford who currently reigns as the league's best coach.

The title aside, there will also be the CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup and GHALCA Top 4 slots to fight for as consolation.

Above all will be the annual ritual of the rather interesting, and yet fierce battle, against relegation which all the clubs swear to avoid right from take-off but end up sour for some of them.

Last season newly-promoted Zaytuna United failed to survive the Premiership for the second time raising serious questions about the fate of newcomers like Sporting Mirren, Berekum Chelsea and Eleven Wise who have all given hints of their determination to stay in the elite division.

With 30 games to go, only time will determine how the men will be separated from the boys.

Story by Ebo Kwaitoo