It is curious residents of Tamale have not flooded the streets since news broke that Sunday’s big clash in the FA Cup has been moved from 5 to 3 PM Local Time.
Irate citizens showed their dismay over long-held belief Kwesi Appiah’s call-ups are laced with a tinge of ethnicity since sons of the land including Mubarak Wakaso, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Rabiu Mohammed have not been called for long stretches during Appiah’s second stint at the top position.
As compelling as their argument may be, Black Stars First Assistant Ibrahim Tanko is an integral part of the team while guys like Agyemang Badu (who hails from the Brong Ahafo Region just like Appiah) has not been featured much since Appiah returned to the job after his dismissal in 2014.
Suffice to say, suspected individuals with ulterior motives were behind these protests, definitely, ring true. The aforementioned situation which took place only a few weeks ago makes the local folk’s reaction to arrangements for Sunday’s super clash between Ghana’s biggest teams Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak hard to digest. If Ghanaians in Tamale and its environs are weary of being slighted, the biggest example is playing right in front of them.
In order to satisfy demands of traveling fans from the southern sector-where both teams are located- the game has been moved to an earlier start. Per explanations coming from various quarters including that of Ghana’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, traveling fans have a big chance to journey back home in time before it gets too dangerous to travel. Per the words of Deputy Sports Minister Pius Hadzide playing the game earlier than planned goes a long way to saving life and property.
How traveling immediately after 5 PM to Kumasi or Accra saves lives more than doing so a few hours later is definitely one that is sure to baffle even Albert Einstein. By shoving the decision down the throat of FA Cup organizers, Ghana’s Ministry has effectively overrun the feelings of inhabitants and sided more with those of “foreigners” to the Northern City, Tamale.
Aside from the complexity in understanding the mundane rationale behind this move, playing in the heat of the day rarely increases the possibility of producing the kind of game fans crave to see. Per weather readings, temperatures in Tamale are likely to be in the mid 30’s with high humidity levels bound to make the weather feel hotter than it actually is.
In such searing conditions, the entertaining finals over the past couple of years in the competition’s late kick-off times will likely go amiss in this weekend’s final. Kotoko’s controversial loss to Medeama in 2015 and Bechem United’s win over Okwahu United last year are standard games that highlight the quality level of play on the local scene even in the midst of a heavy exodus of talent that has crippled the local game. One key feature promoted heavily in the build-up to Sunday’s game is tourism; it is the main reason behind an official dress has been aligned to the game.
Unveiling smocks as the official attire for the occasion and making plans to sponsor 30 people to watch the game are measures geared towards boosting Ghana Tourism Authority’s “See, Eat. Wear. Feel” campaign for the weekend. But Tamale’s economy should see little growth since tourists are likely to spend less time in the city on the back of scrapping the original time which would have coerced visitors to stay overnight before leaving.
A late kick-off doesn’t just provide a better setting for a great game Sunday’s matchup promises, it has a lot of benefits beyond the game that is likely to be missed due to the schedule change.
Both teams have done great to get to this point where a lot is at stake for the FA Cup Bridesmaid Kotoko and the long-suffering Hearts of Oak and deserve far better than an over simplistic fun sucking retort.