Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi

GOAL Machine, Eric Bekoe, is an enigma. Indeed, it is sometimes amazing the way he scores his goals.
Last Sunday was a typical example when he silenced Tema Youth coach, Isaac ‘Opeele’ Boateng, who had boasted all along that the striker could never score against his side, because he had the strategy to play him out of their Onetouch Premier League encounter.
Coach Opeele’s big talk notwithstanding, Bekoe did what he knows best — scoring. And what a way to celebrate the goal! With his finger pointing at Opeele, Bekoe ran powerfully towards the coach, gesticulating at certain stages as he celebrated his 78th minute goal against the Tema side in style.
The coach responded by running to hug the striker, and to say, “indeed you have proved me wrong”.
Yes, the leading goal scorer had every reason to celebrate that way, as he put it, “my goal will teach Opeele a lesson in football”.
He said he knew before the match that he would prove the coach wrong, and he was thankful to God that his dream came true.
On the flip side, Coach Boateng nearly engaged Asante Kotoko team manager, Opoku Afriyie, in what could have been a nasty fight during recess.
From the press box it was not clear what precipitated the near fisticuffs, but security personnel did well to calm down tempers.
The Premier League leading scorer, who had been policed all along, disentangled himself from the web created around him by Julius Agyemang and Edward Kpodo to find the net in the 78th minute with a header.
It looks like Bekoe has indeed arrived as the answer to Ghana’s striking headache. You can choose to disagree, but it remains a fact that a striker with such powerful eyes for goals cannot be taken for granted.
The soft-spoken young striker who is adept in both feet dedicated his goal to God who continues to be his protector and guide.
Opeele’s tactic was to put two players on Bekoe in a bid to make him redundant. His strategy worked for some time as the striker found it difficult to cut a path towards goal until that 78th minute goal.
But credit should go to Asante Kotoko coach, Bashir Hayford, for building the striker to become the most fearsome striker in the local league today.
Hayford, who in the build-up to last Sunday’s match refused to comment on coach Boateng’s criticisms of his tactics, proved a point that it is always the pitch that decides.
On a day that his side was short of a man as skipper Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor was shown the red card rather controversially in the 52nd minute, Hayford was able to devise a strategy to overcome Tema Youth and indeed scored a second goal.
Kotoko Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sylvester Asare Owusu, questioned referee Alex Kotey’s red card decision.
“Osei Kuffuor was only struggling to take the ball away from an opponent after the referee had awarded a free kick against that player for fouling Kuffuor.
“At times people tend to accuse Kotoko for complaining about some referees, but what Alex Kotey did last Sunday justifies our concerns”, Sylvester told the Graphic Sports.
On the whole the CEO said even though his side won 2-0, the overall performance was not that encouraging.
“We played just about 60 percent of our normal game. But I think the long break in the league made some of the players match-rusty and I believe that the players will pick up as the league progresses”, he said.
The CEO also expressed concern about the Professional League Board’s (PLB) failure to deliver enough tickets for the match, which prevented many fans from watching the match.
According to Sylvester, the PLB printed some 21,000 tickets when in fact all the 41,000 seats would have been filled had there been enough tickets.
He pointed out that the government spent a lot to rebuild the Baba Yara Stadium and therefore needs money to pay for the cost.
“It is a fact that Kotoko is the club that has the ability to pull the fans to the stadium to help pay for the cost, and nothing should be done to deny the fans entry to the stadium”, the CEO stated.

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