The renowned Kessben FM punditry was put on a recourse to run the rule over the Best XI from the Ghana Premier League from the year 2000 on Friday by debating minds who religiously listen to their popular Final Whistle sports show across the globe.
That hefty demand was a request to name the greatest eleven players who played in the Ghana Premier League on the pantheon of the greats. And, that experiment, admissibly was a tough trial for the deep-thinking Franco Nero and the Paul Hayward of Ghanaian sports journalism arena – Collins Atta Poku.
But, finally the team managed to emerge from the midst of the complexity of the question and introduce simplicity to the big question.
Goalkeeper – Sammy Adjei (Hearts of Oak)
The contention that late Burkina Faso goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama could rival Hearts of Oak legend Sammy Adjei was settled following a consensus by the pundits Sammy Adjei’s achievements at Hearts of Oak which included winning 3 Premier League titles with the Phobians. The charismatic glovesman is remembered by most football fans for his display during Hearts of Oak’s crusade to conquer Africa in the 2000 CAF Champions League season. He also monopolised the Ghana No. 1 spot for over half a decade before he was toppled by Richard Kingson just before the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Right-Back – Daniel Quaye (Hearts of Oak)
Kofi Wayo’s berth in this diamond-gilded assembly was undisputed. He was a No.2 who wooed fans across the length and breadth of the country. During the mightily Hearts-Kotoko clashes he always stood out with his no nonsense tackles but clean jobs. The 37-year-old made 10 Ghana appearances including making the Ghana squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He won many laurels with the Oak club including the CAF Champions League.
Left-Back – Godfred Yeboah (Asante Kotoko)
The Ghana Premier League is yet to see a better left-back after TV 3. Former Ghana coach Claud Le Roy reportedly labelled the intelligent and hard-working defender as the best lateral defender he has worked with on the African continent.There was unanimity in favour of Yeboah for the role as no player can rival him for the role.
Central Defence – Isaac Owusu (Asante Kotoko)
Marauding, commanding and no nonsense center back. A Sergio Ramos of his time. He marshalled the backline with great diligence along with unflagging passion, physique and skill at his job. Always sturdy at the back and limited opposition chances at scoring against the Porcupine Warriors either at the Baba Yara Stadium or any other grounds. He played in the 2002 CAF Winners Cup competition for Kotoko. Many fans who watched that game in Kumasi would remember Isaac Owusu Ninja for his 33rd minute tackle to deny Heraguiis from getting the opener for the visitors.
Central Defence – Joseph Hendrick (Asante Kotoko)
Also played in that memorial Sunday, December 8, 2002 game against Wydad Athletic Club. Lifted several domestic titles with Kotoko and played for the Black Stars in games against South Africa and many other countries. Though its not easy to compare players across different eras, Hendrick would easily walk into any Ghana defence at any time. He was the man every coach looks up to whenever he needed a job to be done at the back. Mightily great and purposeful. He played a crucial role for Ghana in the early stages of the World Cup qualifiers that led the Ghana Black Stars’ side to its maiden World Cup campaign in Germany.
Defensive Midfield – Hamza Mohammed (Asante Kotoko/King Faisal/Hearts of Oak)
The 40-year-old is now a degree holder in sports management from a university in Australia. A pure midfield genius at his heydays. A midfield fan belt. He knew exactly how to do the job. Made a name for himself at King Faisal and Kotoko but most remember him for his job at King Faisal. Enjoyed 28 international caps with Ghana and captained Ghana’s U20 side. In case you didn’t watch the midfielder in that African Youth Championship in 1999 some tapes of his games would help you appreciate his quality.
Offensive Midfield – Charles Taylor (Hearts of Oak/Asante Kotoko)
The supremo. Chief tormentor terrible terror Taylor. None could be compared to him in the last 30 years of Ghanaian domestic football. Simply magisterial and artful. Charles Taylor just graced the game with his awesome talent and charisma. The sheer grace and command around him struck fear into defences and there was little who could apply the brakes on him. Played an influential role in Hearts’ African conquest in 2000 and most significant was his part in Hearts’ six consecutive league titles popular known in local circles as Kofi Nsiah. Taylor just knew his game too well and represented both Hearts and Kotoko, winning numerous titles. However, the anti-climax of his move was the 2004 CAF Confederation Cup final when he lost to Hearts of Oak at the Baba Yara Stadium.
Free Role – Stephen Oduro (Asante Kotoko)
Club legend and a cult figure in Kumasi. Better than David Beckham on set pieces? Absolutely Yes. The pocket size midfield demon left an indelible memory in the minds of Ghanaian football fans and not just Kotoko supporters with his unmatched ability to convert free-kicks. Tico-Tico was just too good for anyone to try and bring up a name to match him. I doubt whether the Ghanaian domestic league has ever seen a better player behind a free-kick. In him Kotoko always had that player who could pull a chestnut out of the blazing fire.
Center Forward – Ishmael Addo (Hearts of Oak)
If goal scoring is a symphony in the Ghana Premier League then the Baby-face remains the greatest maestro of its orchestra. How could he not score in a game? Ishmael Addo would always find a way to exploit a weakness in even the toughest of defences in the world. He was canny, brave and intelligent. A fox in the box who rarely spared his markers. He is the only player after Kwasi Wusu to have won the Ghana Premier League top scorer award on three different occasions. Winner of several Ghana Premier League titles and the CAF Champions League and Super Cup.
Attacker – Emmanuel Osei Kuffuor (Hearts of Oak)
True legend of the Ghana Premier League. A true definition of a brilliant utility player. He even manned the post for Ghana during an AFCON tournament. Played many seasons for Hearts and won several top award and titles scoring important goals for the club. Popularly know in Ghanaian circles as the General, Kuffour excelled for Hearts and the Black Stars. No debates.
Attacker – Bernard Don Bortey (Hearts of Oak)
Gained international recognition during the 1999 U17 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. His goal against Santos in the CAF Confederation Cup earned him a nomination for FIFA goal award. Locally known as the Serial Killer for his sadistic way of dealing with defences and cutting through oppositions. He is the only player who comes a little closer to Stephen Oduro when it comes to set-pieces. Ultimate unanimity for his place in the squad.
By El Akyereko
Follow the writer on Twitter: @Akwasiakyereko