Asante Kotoko retained their Ghana Premier League title.
GHANAsoccernet.com?s Patrick Akoto suggests four reasons why Asante Kotoko retained their Ghana Premier League crown despite a chequered campaign.
Asante Kotoko broke a 20-year-old jinx to retain their Premier League crown and it was a fairly tale end to a rather topsy-turvy campaign.
The title defence ambition looked unattainable from the start. With an incredible 14 draws, many were sceptical about the ability of the team to do one thing their rivals Hearts have done for a sixth consecutive year running.
At the end of a gruelling campaign, the Ghanaian powerhouse came to party with critics joining the praise bandwagon.
Mas-ud Dramani factor
Mas-ud Dramani stepped into the big shoes of Maxwell Konadu with huge expectations on his shoulders.
He had guided the country?s female Under-17 team to clinch a historic bronze at the 2012 FIFA Under-17 Women?s Championship held in Azerbaijan and rightly so the burden of expectation among the teeming followers was huge.
It was however not meant to be a rosy start for the UEFA licence A coach as incessant draws left many of their supporters despondent.
His long-term future continues to be a matter of intense conjecture in the local media and even considered to walk away at some point when the criticism was becoming unbearable.
Dramani stepped away from the big crowd and once again proved himself as perhaps a master tactician who can lead Kotoko to the promise land.
He was sent to the slaughter house for his lack of consistency in his player selection ? an argument which many believed accounted for their incoherent form this term.
Great coaches are those who are able to water down on the criticism and focus on the bigger picture.
Because in the end when victory is chalked, the critics will be the first to sing praises and that clearly is the scenario he finds himself at the moment.
It is unclear if he will continue his romance with the club, but hate him or love him, he has written his name in the history of Kotoko?s folklore and one of the key factors that has ensured the Porcupine Warriors chalked the remarkable feat.
Berekum Chelsea and Medeama inconsistencies
Kotoko owe a lot of gratitude to the inconsistent displays from title rivals Berekum Chelsea and Medeama.
Both sides gave a massive run-in on the title race but once again Medeama will feel extremely done by when they look back at their performance during the turn of the year.
The Mauves and Yellows seemed in firm control at the start of the season, recording important wins away from home but the shocking decision of Bashir Hayford to quit at the end of the first round proved their nemesis.
The move was ill-timed and their inability to convince him to stay was a poor judgement call- which has proven to be right.
The Tarkwa-based side will lick their wounds after letting the Premier League title slip through their fingers ? a situation which could have been avoided.
It is however fair to say that injuries were largely avoided last season to key players; however that was not the case this season as a host of important members of the team succumbed to injury as well as loss of form.
Striker Hans Kwoffie missed a massive chunk of the season in what has been a huge blow to Evans Adotey, as his presence and leadership would have been invaluable in the many hairy moments Medeama have been involved this season.
Captain and defender Otuo Acheampong shockingly left the club without permission with his trace still unknown.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology graduate was arguably Medeama?s most important player in the title run-in as he kept the defence watertight and focused.
Sadly, the club had severe lapses in concentration in his absence and was solely missed.
Chelsea produced some moments of brilliance in the season and fought hard to send the title race to the wire.
But their lack of character, hunger and desire to win the title cost them the chance to reclaim the title.
Their 2-1 defeat at Heart of Lions on the final day of the League sums up their inconsistent form.
Trusted and battle-hardened midfielders
The influence of Kotoko?s experienced midfielders proved crucial in the final analysis.
A dominant performance from the three Michaels- Helegbe, Akuffo and Anaba at some point alongside Issah Yakubu, who joined from Liberty Professionals were awesome.
They never showed any signs of slowing down with Kofi Nti Boakye and the heavily criticized Seidu Bancey provides the sucker punch up front.
It has been a solidified combined effort from their hardened midfielders that has landed them the trophy for the second time in a row.
Michael Helegbe has been a key figure in the Kotoko set-up, warming his way with some matured and delectable football that has got him many admirers again.
All in all it was dominant performance that looked like falling apart at the start of the season.
The Africa Experience
Kotoko qualified to the CAF Champions League for the first time in six years but flattered to deceive as they bundled out of the race in the preliminary stage.
All hell broke loose when they failed to hold their own against Algerian side JSM Bejaia, drawing 1-1 at home after earning a priceless goalless draw away from home.
Coach Dramani came under lots of flak while angry supporters ignited the age-long debate about the selling policy adopted by Executive Board chairman Dr Kofi Kodua which saw as many as five key players leave the club.
Their exit from the competition was painful, but the experience garnered was worthwhile as it proved consequential in the title run-in.