Tamakloe’s Take: Tales from Simba’s jungle, Barreto’s brooding and ejected landlords

This article puts the spotlight on Ahmed Simba Toure in the Ghana Premier League as well as Mariano Barreto's recent rants

Simba’s territory

The Ghana Premier League, like many other elite football competitions, has had its fair share of brilliant foreign players. The Ashantigold contingent of the ’90s were arguably the best performers. From that group was the Togolese pair of Nibombe Waké and Kossi Noutsoudje.

There was also the brilliant Cameroonian Valentine Atem. The Ivorian Ibrahima Kone – then a national team player, as was the case of all foreign players at the time, was another excellent acquisition. Asante Kotoko has had their fair share of success too, in that regard. Akakpo Patron and the more recent Soulama Abdoulaye – of blessed memory, were remarkably successful on Ghanaian soil.

There are also latter-day entrants like Victorien Adebayor and Raddy Ovouka. The greatest of them all, however, is an adopted Burkinabe; Ahmed Simba Toure. Toure, previously of Asante Kotoko and Bechem United, struck twice as Medeama beat Dreams FC 2-0 in Tarkwa on Sunday. He has now scored four goals in four league games for the Mauves and Yellows. But that’s not why he is so revered in the league. His brace of goals at the weekend sent his tally beyond the 40-goal mark during his time in Ghana.

In his first stint with Asante Kotoko, Toure scored 14 goals in 25 matches between July 2006 and July 2008 as Kotoko won the league. He returned in the 2011/12 season to produce 12 goals in 28 appearances to help the Porcupine Warriors win the league for the first time since 2008. His most recent stint in Ghana was with Bechem United where he scored 13 times in 25 games. Of the 43 goals Toure has scored on Ghanaian soil, 32 of them have been scored in the league.

Toure is not your everyday striker. Even in terms of his skillsets, Toure is a rare breed. He has an incredible understanding of space and time in the vital area, and when he has to finish, Toure has a rare mix of technique and power. While not being the most skillful, he always has enough in his locker to get past his marker. This ‘Búrkina-’vorian’ has a penchant for scoring in the biggest of games too. What’s not to love about Simba, the king of this jungle?

Barreto’s brooding

After Kotoko’s ascension to the summit of the league, head coach Mariano Barreto spoke in a five-minute, 24 seconds post-match interview. He spent two minutes and 16 seconds of that on referee Kenny Padi’s performance:

“The work of the referee is not only to whistle; he has to protect the players. Aggressive football is one thing, making damage and making fear for the opponents is another thing.”

This was not a moan. This was a valid argument grounded in logic and in law. Two dangerous tackles; one on Ibrahim Imoro that left the Black Stars full-back crocked, and the other on Augustine Okrah. Okrah’s should have resulted in a stonewall penalty. Yet, for whatever reason, Kenny Padi ignored the appeal.

In truth, the problem with officiating is not limited to the tolerance for agricultural tackles. It includes the misinterpretation of GFA-adopted-IFAB regulations.

There was another incident in Ashantigold’s 1-0 win over Hearts of Oak that was worrying but also a common feature in the league.

With time running out, David Abagna’s cross hit Fatau Mohammed (Hearts of Oak captain) in the ribs and touched his arm. The referee whistled for a penalty. It was subsequently converted and it goes without saying, that it decided the outcome of the match.
The decision was not only controversial, but it was inconsistent with the International Football Association Board (The IFAB) regulations.

A similar controversial call was made at the Accra Sports Stadium on the same day.
In Legon Cities’ 2-0 win over Great Olympics, ‘Agorsu’ had cause to complain too. Olympics midfielder Samuel Abbey-Quaye was clearly fouled by substitute Nicholas Mensah. Although referee Selorm Kpormegbe was close enough to have seen it, he ignored the call bizarrely.

Oly complained, but in vain.

Even if these are honest mistakes, the frequency with which they happen is worrying. In an era where activism against hooliganism and attacks on referees, it is important for the referees to work above reproach.

Oly; pretenders or genuine contenders

While Selorm Kpormegbe’s decisions were questionable on occasion, the truth is that he was responsible for Oly’s defeat.

‘Agorsu’ did not seem to have enough in them against a compact, disciplined side with a well-executed plan. Bashir Hayford’s men managed to short-circuit Oly by isolating the supply line and the firing line. The otherwise enterprising Gladson Awako and Samuel Abbey Quaye could not create clear-cut openings for Mudasiru and Maxwell Abbey. It was a beautiful execution of a well-thought-out plan, done with a remarkable dedication to the plan. Olympics just did not have the ideas to break this shape.

Yet, speaking after the game, coach Annor Walker and striker Maxwell Abbey, both insisted the performance was good enough to win. I asked both coach and player in the post-match conference for clarity on this. I got the same answer. One other thing was worrying.

It was a subtle admission that Oly do not scout opponents. It was sad to hear but not surprising. Olympics is not the only team in the league guilty of that. Most teams in the league – and in fact across the various divisions of Ghana football – do not scout opponents.

The cost of maintaining a scouting network is a disincentive to many clubs. However, given the benefits of a well-run scouting system, clubs need to find the money for it.

Victor Atsu Tamakloe

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online

Follow us on Twitter: @asaaseradio995

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