The Ghana Premier League: Statistics, History, Players and Coaches

Radio Univers
Radio Univers
15 Min Read

Football, they say is the passion of the nation (Ghana) which explains why the Ghana Premier League is the best and most watched sporting competition in Ghana.

As the 2023/2024 Ghana Premier League commences with the pomp and plush it deserves, we delve into the story of the most sought football league in Ghana, with new season coming in with its own excitement, enthusiasm and story.

History of Ghana Premier League

The genesis of Ghana’s most reputable football competition can be traced back to the year 1915, where the Accra league championship, as it was formerly called debuted. Accra Hearts of Oak were the talk of town then, exerting their dominance in almost all of the editions (1915, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1933, 1935 and 1953) and were presented the ‘Sir Gordon Guggisberg’ Shield.

In 1956, there was an attempt to organize a national league that would incorporate clubs from other regions. The competition was labeled ‘Goldcoast Club Competition’, with its first Champions being Accra Hearts of Oak. The formidable dominance of the Phobians in Ghana football was once again showcased before the nation’s independence.

In 1957, the fight for independence by the Gold Coast did not help football administrators continue the league since a much bigger struggle ( for independence) and a more sumptuous victory (independence victory) was in the pipeline. Ghana’s Independence from British Colonial rule overshadowed the sport amidst massive jubilation and National Events that marked a new begining for the Ghana. If the struggle for independence was some kind of football competition, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would be classified as the captain for that independence team (the big 6) team that guided Ghana’s Independence Journey.

Sixty years has passed since the Ghana Premier League (GPL) began, and the 2023/2024 season will be the 62nd football season. The Porcupines, Kumasi Asante Kotoko has been the most dominant force with twenty-four league titles, followed by Accra Hearts of Oak with 21, and the defunct Ashgold Sporting Club of Obuasi taking the place of the third most successful club with four titles.

The Ghana Premier League (GPL) has also produced some quality players who shot into world prominence. Core amongst them are the likes of three times Africa Best Player and maestro Abedi Pele Ayew, Anane Kobo, Mohammed Choo (Real Tamale United), Rev. Osei Kofi, Sarfo Gyamfi, Kwesi Appiah, Golden Boy Abdul Karim (Kumasi Asante Kotoko), the dribbling magician, Mohammed Polo, Stephen Appiah, Ishmeal Addo, Don Dada Diouf Bortey (Accra Hearts of Oak), Augustine Ahinful, Evans Augustie Adortey, Kenneth Ababbio, Kofi Deblah (Ashgold SC), Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien, Suley Ali Muntari (Liberty Professionals) and a host of other great players.

In the history of Ghana Football, only twelve clubs have had the priviledge to kiss the famous prestigious trophy and with every new season looking to either extend the number of trophy winning clubs or have an old winner emerge as champion. As a new season arises, the big perennial question has piped up again: “Who will be the champion of the 2023/2024 Betpawa Premier League?”

Ali’s Top Four Prediction

Preamble: Since the Ghana Premier League era began in 1993/1994 football season, local coaches have dominated the league and it’s likely this season might be another year foreign coaches might go home with empty hands. Hearts of Oak’s Martin Koopmann, is the only foreign coach in the 2023/24 season and has joined the Accra based club; the only Ghanaian football team to have won the Ghana Premier League with a foreign coach – Mitko Dobrev (Bulgarian Trainer), in the 2006/2007 season. Koopman has squad depth and led Hearts to a strong pre-season performance, conceding only five goals, and scoring thirty-six goals. Kofi Agbesima, has brought some stability at the back, and Hearts of Oak can count on new import, Ramos Kashala Wannet, the likes of Martin Karikari from Asekem and the return of Nakamura Abdul Aziz Nurudeen given their show in pre-season.

But Martin Koopmann faces stiff and tough opposition from coach Agustine Adortey of Medeama (Defending champion) and coach Prosper Nettey Ogum of Asante Kotoko – he won the title in his last stint with the club.

Other coaches to watch include former Black Stars coach and now Head coach for Nsoatreman, Maxwel Konadu. Bechem United have made quality additions to their squad with the likes of Precious Boah, Yaw Annor (top scorer 2021/22 season), Kelvin Andoh, Augustine Okrah (top scorer 2013/14 season) with Coach Kobby Mensah hoping to make history with the Bechem side.

Tarkwa based Medeama may have lost a lot of players this season, especially their two inspirational captains, Kwesi Donsu and Vincent Atinga, but they still have a formidable team to compete for the title; Jonathan Sowah, who scored 12 goals in 17 matches for Medeama is still available, left back Hamidu Fatawu who together with Sowah had their first caps for the senior national team. Experienced Theophilus Anoba, formerly of Ashgold is also with the team with their well composed goalkeeper Felix Kyei.

Kumasi Asante Kotoko have not been impressive during their pre-season friendlies but still have one of the best squads to compete and come in as the most decorated club in the Ghana premier league. Midfielder Eric Zeze, striker Steven Mukwala who scored eleven goals last season will be looking to double his goalscoring tally this season and probably win the goal king from Jonathan Sowah. Kotoko have bolstered their squad with the addition of former captain of Real Tamale United, Yussif Nurudeen Mohammed and Henry Ansu from Berekum Chelsea to stabilize their defense.

Based on the data and analysis, top four predictions will be;

Accra Hearts of Oak -75

Bechem United – 60

Medeama – 58

Kumasi Asante Kotoko – 55

Goal King’s Prediction

Kashala Wannet (25 goals)

Jonathan Sowa (21 goals)

Steven Mukwala (15 goals)

With the absence of last season’s top scorer Abednego Tetteh (18), Hafiz Konkoni (15), Sampson Eduku (14), it is clear the fight will ensue between Kashala Wannet of Accra Hearts of Oak (who has scored 10 goals in 6 games during the pre-season friendlies with two hat-tricks) and Jonathan Sowah (already scored three goals in their last three games in the CAF Confederation cup and the Ghana Super Cup match at the Cape Coast Stadium with an assist for the senior national team during an international friendly game at the Accra Sports Stadium against Liberia). Ishmeal Addo’s record of 22 goals in a single season looks threatened with Yaw Annor’s last two seasons equaling the feat.

Kashala Ramos looks poised to break and set a new record considering the rate at which he is scoring goals for the rainbow club. Mukwala of Kotoko will also be on the chart and after having a taste of the GPL, he seems set to take the season by storm. He will be desperate to beat his tally of 11 goals last season and better it, whiles he looks to emulate Mbella’s 21 goals for the porcupine warriors last two seasons.

Some GPL records that can be broken

There are a lot of records that need to be equaled or broken. Most of these records can be seen in the 2002 and 2003 Ghana Premier League seasons. Some of these records will be listed:

– The most points in a single league season:

The total number of matches a club will play in the 2023/24 season is 34 games. Winning all matches gives the team 102 points, which is unlikely to happen considering the preparations clubs have made and the will to escape relegation. Hearts of Oak in 2002 won 25 games, drew 3, and lost two games accumulating a total of 78 points. This is the most a club has acquired in a single season since football competitions started in Ghana.

On the other hand, Hearts is not the only club to have won more games in a single season but they share that record with Nkrumah’s Real Republicans, who won 26 games in the 1962/63 season before Hearts equaled that record in the 1971 football season in Ghana. Ghana has seen a lot of changes in the number of teams that participate in the league, from 12 teams in 1956, to 18 teams in 1962/63 season, even to 20 teams in 1971.

The reasons these clubs could not achieve Hearts’ 78 points in 2002 is simple. Before 1995/96 season, a win only attracts 2 points, a drawn game 1. The 3-points system started in 1995/96 season where Obuasi Goldfields won that season with more than 50 points and that was the last of their three consecutive title victories from 1993/94 season to 1995/96 season. Asante Kotoko who won the league in 2003 also won 23 matches, the second highest wins in the premier league era to be crowned champions.

– Most goals scored by a club in a single season:

Accra Hearts of Oak hold that title for scoring 72 goals in the 2002 season after 30 rounds of matches and conceded only 18 goals. Ishmael Addo, who scored 22 goals that season held that most goals scored by a single player in a season during the premier league era.

Nontheless, Hearts’ Peter Lamptey is the only Accra Hearts of Oak player to have score 26 goals in a single season for the club, though it is still not enough to hold the title of most goals. Boafokwa Tano’s Dan Owusu won the top scorer in Ghana on three consecutive seasons from 1974 to 1976 and holds the record of most goals scored by a single player (28) in the 1976 season. Ishmael Addo also holds the same records of three consecutive goal king titles in Ghana; 18 (2000), 21 (2001), and 22 (2002).

The current players have a huge task to break these records. Yaw Annor, who is back to Bechem United shares the same number of most goals with Ishmael Addo (22). He can set a new one but Hearts’ Kashala Wannet Ramos and Medeama’s Jonathan Sowah look favorites to score 25 or more goals this season.

– Unbeaten run: Again, Accra Hearts of Oak holds that record as a winner of the 2006/2007 season, going 22 games unbeaten before been crowned as a champion under Bulgarian international coach, Dobrev. Hearts went unbeaten in the 2003 season but eventually lost the league to Asante Kotoko who had not won the league for the preceeding ten years. Golden Boy, Razak Abdul won the league with Charles Taylor who had crossed carpet from Accra Hearts of Oak to Kumasi Asante Kotoko that season.

The record for the longest unbeaten run in the premier league still goes to Accra Hearts of Oak, 44 matches from 2002 to 2004, only to be stopped by Real Sportive at the Accra Sports Stadium. Before that, Hearts had gone 18 matches without tasting defeat, of which they recorded 14 straight wins before that tencious game at the Kumasi Sports Stadium, against Kumasi Asante Kotoko. The game had ended 1-1, a late equalizer from team captain Godwin Ablodey’s nice penalty take that cancelled Don Bortey’s goal.

Currently in the 2023/24 season, there are only two clubs who seem to go more than 10 matches without a defeat and they are Hearts of Oak and Medeama SC.

All these records may have come as a result of good club administrators, fans zeal to see their clubs win the title, and the intense rivalry both on and off the pitch between Continental Club Masters, Glorious Accra Hears of Oak and Krobea Mbetaemba Kumasi Asante Kotoko. The 2023/24 football season looks very interesting, but are the clubs willing and have the needed energy to break and set new records?

Story by: Petras Anaab Ali ( with contribution from Radio Univers Sports) | 

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