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Football | Ghana

How Tema Youth forced Hayford out



Ahead of Sunday's Ghana Premier League clash of Arsenals and Tema Youth, Fiifi Anaman argues that only consistency can back the confident claims of Youth's bosses and gives the background for Medeama's loss of their coach at an odd time.

Last week, the harbour boys pulverized league leaders Medeama 4-0 and must now soldier on without key players. But before then, Tema Youth had a torrid first round in the Premier League.

The Tema based side won just once in ten consecutive games before the break, drawing five times (all of which, peculiarly, were 1-1 draws) and losing on four occasions.

This meant they had picked up eight points out of a possible 30. Going into the game against league leaders Medeama on the final match day in Tarkwa, it was always going to be about possibly enduring what seemed to be like an imminent, inevitable defeat.

Medeama coming into the game, had humiliated giants(albeit currently relegation threatened) Hearts of Oak 3-1 in Accra, and were in pole position to finish 2012 as Ghana’s league leaders.

What happened that day at the Tarkwa Park was extraordinary – Bismark Asiedu gave Medeama a narrow win with a 38th minute goal, but Tema Youth were by a mile the better side.

And to add insult to injury, they were on the end of some biased refereeing, according to coach Edward Odoom : "We lost because of the referee’s performance. Any move we made was either a foul or an offside. I have been in this job for over 30 years and I’ve never seen refereeing like this,” he told Joy Sports.

Joy for Narh, goodbye for Hayford

Striker Francis Narh, who produced a man of the match performance, was mobbed by Medeama fans – yes, Medeama fans – who showered money on him. This situation was a culmination of an expression of disapproval of their side’s unimpressive (but effective) display.

They had gathered behind the team’s goal post throughout the game to shower discouraging words on coach Bashir Hayford and his players.

Little did they know that that would cost them the services of their celebrated gaffer – he later ditched the club for Ashgold, a decision a lot of sports journalists found hard to comprehend, given Medeama were on top and on course for the title.

Coach Hayford had had problems with the attitude of most Medeama fans, even going further to question if they were real supporters.

"You’ll realize we do well away from home. We beat Hearts because we were away from our fans’ incessant pressure. At home, they always gather behind the goal post from the onset to rain insults and compromise the focus of the team. We’re on top of the table, but they don’t appreciate my efforts," he complained bitterly after the game.

Ashgold sensed the frustration, and used the well-known financial strength to swoop. Medeama claimed they had prepared for such a situation, subsequently promoting assistant coach Shaibu Tanko ahead of the return encounter in Tema – in what was to be their first game after the break.

Four star performance

Shaibu Tanko was baptized with pure fire. His side were thrashed 4-0 by a devastating Tema Youth side, who dazzled with fine skill and exuberance. Within seven minutes from the start of the encounter, the very same Francis Narh had netted a clinical brace. It was now even clearer that Tema Youth probably deserved the maximum points back in Tarkwa.

Bright Adjei and Mohamed Abass bagged two other goals to complete the thumping, and sending shivers down the spine of Tema Youth’s next opponents, Berekum Arsenals - who they had already beaten 2-0 in the penultimate round one fixture (their only win amongst the ten games)

Losing the best

Prior to the game, five of their players (Derrick Mensah, Moses Odjer, Jeremiah Arkoful, Joseph Attamah, and Francis Narh) had taken part in the preparatory games of the Ghana Under 20 team ahead of the 2013 Africa Youth Championship, and were in pole position to make the final squad.

This raised concerns in the media – were Tema Youth going to be able to cope without these players, or would they invoke Article 13 of Ghana FA Regulations to prevent them from joining the final team?

To this, Sporting Director Winfred Osei Parma replied: "We’ll be able to play without these players because we seek the good of the National team. We have enough players to continue with our games,” he added, going on that "we are not going to disrupt the league by seeking postponements. That we can assure are fans."

Francis Narh (eight goals) and Derrick Mensah (one goal) have scored nine of Tema Youth’s 16 league goals this season, and Moses Odjer was also a standout player throughout the first round.

Not to talk of the contributions of the remaining duo, Arkoful and Attamah, who were also solid. The five of them were bright spots in a tempestuous first round, and are arguably five of the best players they have.

On Wednesday morning, Coach Sellas Tetteh named the quintet as part of Ghana’s final 25 man squad ahead of the tournament, meaning Tema Youth would miss their services from now till the end of March, at least.

On 18 points and in 11th place, the famously young side are hovering around the relegation zone despite the fine show at the Tema Stadium.

But ahead of the clash with Berekum Arsenals, coach Odoom can count on the other two scorers on Sunday, Bright Adjei and Mohamed Abass – who have both scored six goals between them.

And he would be hoping they deliver, because Tema Youth will have to put up a replica of Sunday’s performance every other week for the next 14 games if they are to stand a chance of avoiding the drop.



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