Ghanaian strikers, in the local league, have come under criticisms for their low conversion rates. Particularly in 2010/2011, this lack of scoring ability cost Ghana in almost every competition which involved local talent. I argue in this article, based on emerging evidence that the trend is changing. Ghana-based strikers are improving.
The local league may just be 9 games old but, comparing goal-scoring statistics with that of last season, one can observe a clear pattern of improvement.
This season, 141 goals have been scored compared to the 112 goals scored by the end of Match Day 9 in the 2010/2011 season. Since I am making a case for goal scoring ability, I will adjust the total goals scored by subtracting the number of own goals and penalties converted. I could also have estimated goals scored by strikers only, but the database on Ghana’s league is not extensive enough to give me that much room.
By Match Day 9, last season, 2 penalties and 1 own goal had been recorded. This season, we have seen a whopping 17 goals from the penalty spot as well as 1 own goal. In reality therefore, we had 109 goals scored from open play by Match Day 9 last season and 123 this season, representing a 12% increase.
In addition, by Week 9 last season, 64 players had scored at least one goal. This year, there has been a 25% increase in the number of goal scorers to 80. Edubiase FC’s Stephen Manu was the leading scorer by Match Day 9 last season with 4 goals. Another Edubiase FC striker, Emmanuel Baffour, leads the race this year with 9 goals out of 9 games.
Still, only 1 player (Stephen Manu) had scored half as many goals as games played (i. e more than 4 goals). This year, the story is completely different, 5 players have found the net more than 4 times. We have Louis Agyeman, Nathaniel Asamoah, Ahmed Toure, Emmanuel Clottey and Emmanuel Baffour all scoring more than 4 goals. Since we are taking out penalty goals, Seidu Bancey was not added to this list because 2 of his 5 goals scored so far come from the penalty spot.
Moreover, this season, we have seen Emmanuel Baffuor scoring in every game between Match Days 1 and 4. The best run recorded last season was 2 games. Another set of interesting statistics are the number of braces and hattricks netted. Although there is no real improvement in the number of hattricks scored (1 in both seasons), we have witnessed a 133% jump in the number of braces scored from 6 last season to 14 this season.
The question may be begged by some that the strikers are doing better because the defense is getting worse. But is there enough evidence to support such claims. Some of the teams who have conceded the most goals like Medeama SC, AshantiGold SC and Heart of Lions cannot be said to have the worst defenders or goalkeepers. New entrants like Wassaman Utd and Bechem Utd may be easy targets for strikers this season but so were B.A. Stars and Mighty Jets last season.
Perhaps one interesting conclusion to draw from this impressive start by local strikers is that the top 10 players on the goal king chart have played more than one season in the Ghana Glo Premier League. The cost of player exodus and the lack of appropriate rules to regulate this mass movement is clear for all to see. Already, 4 of the top 10 scorers last season are out of Ghana warming benches in non-existent leagues when they could be in Ghana improving their skills.
Who can blame these migrating players? Apart from the financial argument, we have a system which literally spits on all players in the local league. Just because some players have been signed by European clubs, even if they cannot score to save their live, they are preferred to some of these home-based players who are performing on weekly basis.
The season may be young but these are hopefully positive signals that the striking woes of Ghana is gradually becoming a thing of the past.