News about Ashantigold’s demotion to the second division of Ghana football over match manipulation has rocked the football fraternity but the ‘Miners’ are still in contention in this year’s Premier League and are billed to face Asante Kotoko in a Match week 29 clash on Thursday at the Obuasi Len Clay Stadium.
The four-time league champions and widely regarded third force in Ghana football suffered the fate after the Ghana Football Association (GFA)’s Disciplinary Committee found the club culpable in match-fixing allegations that emanated from a match week 34 game last season against Inter Allies, who were eventually relegated to first division football.
A 10-year-ban was handed to President of the club, DrKwekuFrimpong while his son, Emmanuel Frimpong who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was handed an eight –year ban.
Coach of the side, Thomas Duah and Team Manager Gee Aidoo were all incriminated, suffering two year bans whilst players involved in the game for Ashgold received bans ranging from two to four years.
With the ruling set to take effect at the end of the ongoing season, players and officials of the club will face their home fans, who have registered their disappointment and ire, for the first time for an official match since the news broke on Monday.
Ashantigold who were having a decent season lying 10th on the league log must find the mental strength and fortitude to complete the season with five games remaining.
And playing against the league leaders and local rivals, Asante Kotoko will provide an indication whether Ashantigold will have the impetus to fight until the final game of the season or whether the weight of the ongoing crisis have left nothing but misery.
In Accra today, Accra Hearts of Oak’s push to finish in the top four places will face a tricky test against Bibiani Gold Stars, after their request for the postponement of the game over a flu infection to 15 of their first team players and some team officials was turned down by the GFA.
The situation has given Head Coach Samuel Boadu head-scratching moments especially facing a resurgent Gold Stars team whose resolve to avoid the relegation drop was a driving factor in a sensational comeback win at home against King Faisal.
The visitors will be sensing an opportunity to eke victory over the league champions to earn a big win that might be crucial in surviving their first season in the GPL.
In other games today that will shape the crowded race for survival, 16th-placed King Faisal face 15th-placed Eleven Wonders at the Baba Yara Stadium; 17th-placed West Africa Football Academy (WAFA) host 12th-placed Accra Lions at Sogakope while 14th-placed Real Tamale United (RTU) welcome second-placed Bechem United to Tamale.
Legon Cities will be hoping for a return to winning ways against Dreams at the El-Wak Stadium after Accra Lions halted their three game winning run with a 1-0 defeat.
Fourth-placed Accra Great Olympics will hope to keep their top four hopes alive as they trek to Aiyinase to clash with seventh-placed Karela United while Aduana Stars attempt to end their five-game winless run against bottom club, Elmina Sharks at Dormaa.
Third-placed Medeama will aim to maintain their flying form against ninth-placed Berekum Chelsea, away at the Golden City Park.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO