Veteran Sports Journalist Ken Bediako-The Writer

By Ken Bediako

This expression “a stitch in time saves nine simply means it is better to solve a problem right away to stop it becoming a much bigger one.

Its origin is unclear but research shows it’s recorded in a book way back in 1723 and it’s a serving reference.

On this note I would like to congratulate Otumfuo the Asantehene Nana Osei Tutu Ababio for his stitch in time that saved Asante Kotoko from a most probable back to back ninth disgrace in the ongoing National Football League. The story is that, this season, the once upon a time reputed Porcupine Warriors have managed to establish an ignominious club record of winning only one point out of a possible 24 points and were billed to meet league leaders Samartex in the ninth assignment when the club’s spiritual leader called a crunch meeting in a bid to halt the rot.

I am told it was a successful meeting.  No holds barred. All factions saw the need to ensure genuine team work and the result was what happened at the Baba Yara Stadium against free scoring leaders Samartex from Samreboi. Some say the penalty award to Kotoko that fetched the winning goal, was a soft one. All well and good but in the absence of VAR, the referee’s judgement should be paramount. Let’s not begrudge Kotoko for their hard fought victory the first in nine matches of the second round.

It is my hope this victory will signal a revived spirit in the Kotoko camp and the club will live up to its reputation as the best supported club in the country.

I am not making this assertion oo. It’s from the mouth of Alhaji Karim Grunsa easily the most experienced Ghanaian football administrator alive. He told journalists recently in an interview that the success or failure of the national league, and to a large extent, the progress of Ghana Football, rest on the shoulders of Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak. I agree with him and statistics published by the Kwasi Nyantakyi GFA sometime ago confirmed this. Great crowd pullers. Matches involving Kotoko fetched the highest gate takings. Indeed, it has been a longstanding joke that clubs relied heavily on matches against Kotoko to pay bonuses to their players. Unfortunately gate takings are generally low these days for obvious reasons but Kotoko matches still top the charts especially fixtures against Hearts of Oak dubbed Super Clash akin to the Spanish El Classico involving Real Madrid and Barcelona. You can argue that no club is indispensable. Yes, but some clubs like Kotoko and Hearts, are irreplaceable in the Ghana League being the only clubs avoiding relegation since the inception of the league in 1958.

Pioneers like Great Olympics have tasted relegation twice or so and other pioneers namely Kumasi Cornestone, Cape Coast Venomous Vipers, Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs, Sekondi Eleven Wise and Sekondi Hasaacas are almost forgotten. It is a great credit to the Founders of Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak that the seeds planted are still blossoming despite some intermittent hiccups along the way. Indeed, some diehard fans believe it’s unthinkable to have a national league without Kotoko and Hearts.

The massive support enjoyed by the two veteran clubs is so overwhelming that some fanatics think the two could even constitute a whole national league and play against each other twice weekly alternatively in Accra and Kumasi for a whole season and the stands will be filled to capacity.

Readers may notice I find it difficult to call our national football competition the Premier League.

Courtesy DSTV I notice at close range the extremely wide gap between the original Premier League of England and Ghana so much so that I feel shy

to describe it as such. I am not talking about the attendance but the playing fields. How can you in all honesty describe the park at Dawu as Theatre of Dreams, Local version of Old Trafford in Manchester? Let’s get serious. Some of our football pitches are a disgrace to the sport and it is a miracle that our players don’t suffer career threatening injuries.

It’s a big anomaly that Ghana’s torchbearer in the CAF Cup, Dreams FC, should use such a wretched pitch as their home venue. Maybe it’s through no fault of theirs. Is it possible to use the new Koforidua Stadium as the new venue?

I would recommend that if Dreams FC realise their dreams of reaching the CAF Cup finals, they should apply to play their remaining league matches at Koforidua to avoid avoidable injuries at the ‘Dawu theatre of Dreams.’

The second leg CAF Cup semi-final against Zamalek of Egypt in Kumasi this weekend is a tough assignment. The goalless match in Egypt means there must be a winner in Kumasi by all means.

Dreams have a psychological advantage. On Sept 24, 1987 Zamalek lost in a dramatic fashion to Asante Kotoko in a champions league quarter final match at the same venue.

Zamalek had won the first leg in Cairo 2-0 and took an early 4th minute lead at the Baba Yara Stadium in the return match to give Kotoko a huge mountain to climb.

However, Sarfo Gyamfi and Co hit back gamely and won comfortably 5-1 after scoring three quick goals before half time.

Can coach Karimu Zito, a legend of the 1983 Asante Kotoko Africa Cup triumph, inspire his boys to emulate the Kotoko fighting spirit at that time.

Your guess is as good as mine. Good luck to Dreams FC.

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.