Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The final league game

With the necessary points finally awarded for our protests, all we had to do was win our final league game at home to 'Hopes of Future', to carry us into the middle league (playoffs), and potentially the second division. 'Hopes of Future' had very little to play for and we were well ahead of them in the league standings.

Cantonments dominated the first half missing a string of glorious chances. The strike partnership of Abam and Owuni were working well together, but could and should have had five between them. With thirty-three minutes on the clock we were awarded a penalty. Much to my surprise up stepped the young winger Kofido, a weak penalty was easily saved by the opposing keeper. Still Cantonments piled on the pressure with another chance missed by the impressive Owuni. With 44 minutes on the clock 'Hopes of Future' broke away, the striker casually finishing off the move. The players heads dropped. Half Time.

The second half was a different game, it was open and both sides had their chances. 'Hopes of Future' scored again to surely put the game out of our reach. Cantonments soon equalised and pushed for a second goal. Suddenly out of nothing Kofido who had earlier missed a penalty kicked out at an opposing player, the referee took the only available option and showed him the red card.

Cantonments still pushed on and managed to grab an unlikely equaliser. Only a win was enough, a tactical change was made with another attacking midfielder replacing a defender leaving us exposed at the back. With five minutes left of the game a lobbed cross beat the flailing dive of our keeper.

The game was over. We had lost. No Promotion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Earthquake scare

"Get up, Get up." I was woken at 4:00am on Monday morning by my elderly and clearlydistressed landlady banging on my door. I decided to remain 'asleep' through her shouts, she has been known to lose her temper with people over fairly minor incidents. After hearing her bang on the doors of all the rooms on our floor I came to the conclusion there was either a serious problem, or she had lost it, either way I should probably get up.

After heading downstairs I found many of those who share our accommodation milling around the courtyard. The story was that an earthquake was imminent and we must get out onto the street away from any high buildings where we will be safe. It did appear strange that Ghana had such an efficient early warning system, but I didn't think it was worth taking any chances.

When we went out onto the street, the street was busy with people who had obviously heard the same rumour. After half an hour stood in the street it was discovered that this had been a false alarm, apparently the rumour had been spread by a new radio station called earthquake fm as a slightly unusual advertisement. Another story claims the rumour came from the university, apparently university students were stood out of their accommodation for 3 hours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Protest Cases

As I mulled over the fact the likely result of the protest case meant promotion would be almost impossible Noah called, 'Charlie get in we have a lift'. Excellent. This would save me paying for the taxi home. Unfortunately our lift was in the back of a lorry that had been used to carry guinea fowl, the floor was covered in urine and it smelt of shit. The lorry was very hot, and was shared by 7 Ghanaians and myself, all of which had been to the protest meetings. This meant that not only was I sweating profusely, I also had to deal with the sound of arguing Ghanaians throughout the journey.

The meeting was due to begin at 13:30. After waiting an hour in Osu, I went onto Labadi where we were apparently now meeting Noah before leaving. We waited in Labadi for over one hour until Noah finally appeared. I decided this may be a good time to explain further to Kofi and Richard about the potential budget changes that may be introduced in January. Their potential pay increases would mean more was expected of them, Kofi who I normally get on well with began to question why the coaches are not supplied with training boots. 'Projects Abroad only think about the players'. I was not in the mood for this!

When Noah finally arrived we were over two hours late, although no need to worry as the meeting was delayed. The fact we had to travel for over an hour was of no concern apparently. When we finally arrived to Tema stadium we were left to wait for another hour. While we were waiting two other managers from our league came out of the meeting room arguing and laughing as one accused the other of lying about the case that had just been held.

'Cantonments vs Futurestars'. This game was one that took place before I had arrived, the game had finished 1-1 but we had appealed as they had fielded an unregistered player. The officials struggled to find any of the relevant documents. When they eventually did the case was held. Noah attempted to tell our side of the story and stuttered his way through. When the Futurestars manager spoke he spoke well, and I found it hard not to agree with what he said. Case finished, although the result is unconfirmed I fully expect the draw to remain the result.

'What about our other cases?' By this stage it was 8 in the evening, and it was obvious the officials wanted to leave. 'We called for them earlier and none of you were here'. This simply wasn't true as we had been there before they had arrived. They decided they would go by the referees reports; this should be in our interest as it avoids Noah having to speak. Meeting over, and into the lorry, the urine, the shit and the guinea fowl.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas week

As I left the pitch on Saturday I requested that all the coaches to turn up on time to todays weekly meeting due to begin at one. As is often the case, when I arrived to the office none of the coaches had arrived. After a couple of phonecalls I established Kofi was out finding evidence for our protest cases, and Noah was at the GFA headquarters also working on the protest cases. The other two coaches did not pick up their phones. I am currently waiting to see if the meeting will take place.

Noah also informed me that our protest cases will be heard tomorrow, meaning if all goes to plan we will be playing our final league match this weekend. The round robin tournament should take place next Wedensday. It is typically frustrating that the GFA finally get themselves organised just in time for the Christmas period.

The junior teams played in friendlies, with the Under 10s losing 6-5, and the rest of the teams claiming victories. After the Under 10s game the opposition coach took it upon himself to come and gloat to our team. In typical Ghanaian style a 20 minute argument erupted as their coach requested that next time they play against our Under 14s. Our players responded that as we won 3-1 last time, we had won on aggregate.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


'Charlie the middle league will kick next wednesday'. (Today). Noah returned from a GFA meeting last week to inform me that the final league game would take place this weekend. The league was set to be completed this weekend, however once again the protest cases have not been concluded.

He also told me that in their wisdom the GFA had decided that no team would be automatically promoted from our league. With one game to play of the league season, the representatives of each club have agreed that two teams from our league and one from another region will enter into a round robin tournament, that was meant to take place today. This round robin will consist of each team playing two, ninety minute games at a neutral venue on one day, with two gaining promotion. We were also advised that if we are promoted then the new league will kick off on the 16th January!

Noah is convinced the league will be played next weekend, this seems unlikely as it is Christmas weekend. Although I am learning that ridiculous decisions are something the GFA specialises in. This has meant we have been unable to allow our players to break for Christmas which would be normal procedure at this time of year.

The fact that the rules of the league are changed within a week of the league finishing would be unbelieveble in most other countries, but in Ghana it seems almost normal. The laid back nature of Ghanaians means they take it all in their stride, and all the coaches seem amused when I talk about how ridiculous these things are.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Postponement of all League Matches

As we began our light training session this morning in preparation for our final league match of the season tomorrow I was handed a letter by Kofi the Ghanaian coach.
The letter which had been sent by the Ghanaian Football Association (GFA), read as follows;

Dear Sir
Postponement of League Matches
With the non completion of protest cases, all 3rd Division league matches has been canceled. Date for resumption will be communicated at a later date.
With respect to the above all clubs with protest cases must be armed with correct evidence as cases will be heard next week.
The inconvenience is deeply regretted.

Your in Sports

Nataniel Ako-Adjei (General Secretary)

I should say that the league table I published was based on Cantonments winning all three of our protests. However it does seem almost certain that we will, as the referee after each match assured us we would be awarded the three points.

The incompetence of the GFA is unbelievable at times. They have come to this decision as there are a number of protest cases over various issues, including Cantonments three protests. They have failed to make a decision despite a number of emergency meetings held at the GFA headquarters in Accra. This leaves us in the strange position of having no idea when our final game will be played.

This is not the first time dealings with the GFA have been slow moving. Three of our coaches have been enrolled onto a GFA coaching course, this was paid for a couple of months ago but still a date has not been set. The last time I asked Noah our GFA representative he said, 'The league is too hot at the moment to worry about the coaching course'. In addition to this the youth league that was meant to kick off in September or October is yet to begin. The date has been pushed back every month since my arrival, I have been assured it will finally begin in January. The GFA have decided there will be 2 youth leagues next year, when I asked Noah about this he replied that they had decided to do this because of the world cup!

I hope to report that the league will be completed next week, however I am not confident.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Late victory keeps promotion hopes alive

The senior side claimed an important 2-1 victory on Sunday despite a terrible performance. Cantonments somehow went into the halftime break with a 1-0 lead despite a string of excellent saves from our goalkeeper, and a generally lacklustre performance. The second half saw little improvement, and following a simple chance being missed by our striker the opponents broke away and scored an equaliser.

With fifteen minutes to go we switched to a 4-3-3 formation and made a substitute, the substitute netted soon after coming on to grab Cantonments an undeserved victory.

This has left the league table perfectly balanced with one game to play.

LA Utd 33
Cantonments 32
Mighty River 32
Mandela 31
Future 31

The top team goes up and the 2nd goes into a playoff against a team from another region. We are ahead of Mighty River on head to head, the league is not done on goal difference as teams would buy games in the last weekend of the season to push up their goal difference.