On this day, 16 November 1958 (Exactly 61 years ago today), Accra Hearts of Oak were crowned Ghana’s first League Champions, five days after their 47th birthday.
Asante Kotoko almost spoiled the party by defeating the Phobians 4-2 on the final match day at the Accra Sports stadium, but the results of the match did not matter; the Phobians had already won the league championship.
It was a disgraceful episode. During the match, police officers twice had to rush to the field to enforce the referee’s decision.
Players just had no respect for the referee. After the match, fists took over as players engaged in free fighting.
Supporters fought with shameless energy, and for the best part of an hour, a whole battalion of policemen surrounded the Kotoko players who were unable even to get into their dressing room.
It had been a great game. Hearts began well and it was against the run of play when Kotoko broke loose, forced two corner kicks and opened the scoring with a header by Baba Yara through Fred Akuffo’s corner kick.
Kotoko, inspired the early lead and the uproarious cheers of their supporters, made great headway with their attack. Their attack clicked as it had never done in the league and young Adarkwa, playing at inside right for the first time, was a great success, being responsible for most of their moves.
Hearts of Oak, however, were not go be denied their chances. Many times they forced their way through the defence only to be halted by “bulwalk” Dogo Moro who intercepted with good judgement.
After some minutes’ pressure, the Kotoko defense gave away a penalty and Kwao Baffoe in goal was sent fumbling as penalty specialist Addo Darku hit it home.
The pace and tension of the match increased and it was a tribute to referee Arthur Muller that it did not deteriorate into a real rough – house.
Kotoko regained the lead when Adu Darku handled the ball in the goal area and made winger Fred Akuffo send the spot kick past goalkeeper Addoquaye Laryea.
Kotoko kept the initiative and one wondered whether the new spirit had come from a team which had enjoyed so bad a league season. Their domination became even more pronounced in the second half when Hearts seemed to run out of steam and the red – shirted visitors played the type of fluent soccer associated by only a few group of Ghanaian footballers.
To their dishonour, however, their defence got unduly robust in their tackling and twice launched what looked like physical assaults on referee Muller.
The arrival of the police and the regular counsel of their captain, Baba Yara, restored order, especially after a defensive slip had cost them a goal when Agyrey -Fynn scored from a scramble for Hearts.
The rest of the game was all Kotoko. Baba Yara scored the third goal for Kotoko, then Fred Akuffu added the fourth.
From that moment, it was simple exhibition. Hearts’ defence seemed to panic at this stage. Rough tackling was the order of the day but again referee Muller came to the rescue and the game moved on to an exciting finish with Kotoko as winners by four goals to two.
After the match, H.P. Nyamitei, then president of Hearts of Oak, issued a statement in which he condemned those responsible for the “shocking attack on the players and supporters.” and added: “By those irresponsible acts, they have placed the reputation of the club in most embarrassing situation and we shall be failing in our duty if we took no action.”
The President recalled that when Hearts of Oak players were attacked and beaten up after their first League match with Kotoko in Kumasi, he condemned the action in no uncertain terms.
“I cannot condone this just because it comes from my camp, ” he said. The President expressed hope that the relations between all the League clubs should be improved by formation of a Union of National League Clubs to which all of them would be affiliated.
“There is far more than what can do for ourselves by coming closer together and I intend to put this proposal through all the League clubs for consideration,” he said.
On this day 16 November 2003 (Exactly 16 years ago today) Asamoah Gyan scored on his debut as Ghana beat Somalia 5-0 to take a giant step towards the group stage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the first of their two legged affair played at the Accra Sports stadium.
After a wrong rendition of the Somali national anthem which was greeted with boos from the vociferous Ghanaian fans was rectified after a Somali official had alerted those in the control room, the Stars kicked off in an earnest to redeem their sunken image.
Clad in a new “Puma outfit” yellow shirt and over black shorts – the stars moved into gear from the start but had to wait till the 25th minute to find a an antidote to the defensive minded Somalis who tested goalkeeper Sammy Adjei only twice in the entire 90 minutes.
In fact, it took the visitors to 30 minutes to cross the half way line and when they did, their lone striker Isse Aden Abshir was dispossessed of the ball by the “less busy” Ghanaian defenders.
Nana Arhin Duah brought the fans to their feet in the 25th minute when he rose to nod home the opener from a Bernard Don Bortey’s pinpoint cross.
And in spite of the goal, the Somalis were resolute in defense and their young goalie Abdulkadir Shek Osman, who took several knocks from aerial tussels fought hard to avoid more goals.
But the defensive network of the visitors appeared to have broken down after recess when the Ghanaians scored four more times to gladden the hearts of the fans.
After seeing his goal-bound header scooped off the goal in the 56th minute, Nana Arhin Duah dived to finish off a Blrtey’s lob a few seconds later to raise the tally to two.
The two goals galvanised the stars for a goal harvest as linchpin Michael Essien tugged the team forward and Bortey too sparkled from the wings with his characteristic in – swingers.
Former Kotoko goal poacher Isaac Boakye scored a classic third goal with a left footer as the ball hit beneath the cross bar before settling into the net.
It was a beautiful move initiated by the midfield general Essien, who dummied the defenders and back healed the ball for Boakye to finish in 69th minute.
Coach Ralf Zumdick sent in Lawrence Adjei and debutant Asamoah Gyan for Aziz Ansah and later Yakubu for skipper Appiah who had his head bandaged in the third minute.
Minutes later coming on, Gyan tapped in Yakubu’s goal – bound shot while Boakye scored a brilliant personal second and the fifth for Ghana.
Ghana Line – up: Sammy Adjei, Aziz Ansah/ Lawrence Adjei, Addoquaye Pappoe, John Mensah, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Michael Essien, Bernard Don Bortey, Hamza Mohammed, Nana Arhin Duah/ Asamoah Gyan, Isaac Boakye, Stephen Appiah/ Yakubu Abubakari
On this day 16 November 2003 (Exactly 16 years ago today) At the age of 16 years , 4 months, 23 days old, Lionel Messi made his official first team debut for FC Barcelona in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto.
On this day 16 November 2003 (Exactly 16 years ago today) Roger Federer of Switzerland won his first of six season – ending Tennis Masters Cup titles with 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 victory over American Andre Agassi in the final in Houston.
On this day 16 November 2008 (Exactly 11 years ago today) Novak Djokovic of Serbia won his first season – ending Tennis Masters Cup title beating Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5 in the final in Shanghai, China
On this day 16 November 2014 (Exactly 5 years ago today) Novak Djokovic claimed his third straight ATP World Tour finals titles after Roger Federer was forced to withdraw from the final in London through injury.
STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH