Ghana’s two biggest clubs Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak faced off against each other at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Sunday to honour an annual two-legged friendly known as Super Clash.
It was the first time a ball was kicked in the country between two domestic clubs since June of this year when the local topflight and all other football activities were suspended nationwide in the wake of the airing of an investigative documentary that exposed corrupt practices involving top officials of the Ghana FA and more than 70 referees.
The producer of the film, a Ghanaian undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, became a hero overnight, as his exposé was able to oust Kwesi Nyantakyi, a powerful figure in the country, who led the Ghana FA for more than a decade.
Many local football fans applauded as Nyantakyi resigned from his post and went into oblivion. However, the price to pay was sitting at home during the weekend with no football match to watch at any stadium in the country.
The Ghanaian government, FIFA and CAF have been busy, but sluggish in the eyes football lovers, trying to initiate reforms to sanitize the sector before lifting the suspension. Nothing seems to have come into shape and the public is waiting impatiently to see their clubs return to action and conclude the 2017-2018 season which was abandoned midday.
“The problem is we don’t even have any information. We don’t know what the Ghanaian government is doing to bring back football in the country,” Amos Yankah, an Accra-based physician told ACLsports on Sunday.
“The joy that the documentary brought to the hearts of Ghanaians is turning into nightmare because nothing is happening in football here. Football is a huge industry in the country. People live by football. All the players are idle and penniless right now as well as their club owners and staffers.
“Those doing business around football are currently doing nothing gainful. Everybody is waiting for the end of the suspension. Nobody knows. It might take until next year.”
Following a joint decision by the Ghanaian authorities and FIFA to install a normalization committee to run the sport in the country, permission was granted to organizers of the Super Clash to hold the event.
Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, welcomed visitors from across the country to Sunday’s meeting. Dealers in gadgets, jerseys, food, drinks and transport returned as well to make some profits.
Football fans were happy to watch a live game in physical form and to cheer their respective teams. It was another beautiful soccer reunion that many would wish to continue without interruption like before.
“It’s a wonderful day for us here and for all in Ghana, because we were able to see our two greatest teams play football once again. The country lacks ovation, energy and joy since June due to the ban. We hope today’s crowd would convince the stakeholders that Ghanaians want football and quick,” said Sylvester Addo, a 27-year-old school teacher in Kumasi.
The game ended in favour of the home side Kotoko (2-0), who played as away team though because the return leg will also hold at same venue.
“The outcome of the match doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are beginning to entertain hope that regular football will return soon, and we will be able to do business as before. It has been very hard for us stadium businesspeople and even stadium workers. Nobody earns anything,” said Kabiru Mohamed, who sells food and drinks with his wife outside the Baba Yara Stadium.
It’s turning to be a week of grace for many as the return leg comes up next Sunday in the same city where more people and more business are expected. However, fingers would remain cross awaiting a word from the government.