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Sports Features Thu, 30 Apr 2015

Who is the best player to have graced the local league!

Feature: Who is the best player to have graced the local league! From 2000 till now!

Odeneho Asks?

It is no more a hidden truth that the local football has lost it impetus which it used to hold some years back. 20, 15 years back, it was common to see football fans across the length and breadth of the country going to sleep in stadia a day before a league match. Those who could made it for the night, would make sure by 4, 5am, they are represented. This attendance at the stadia was created by nothing except for the good football the supporters are assured of at the end of the day.

Apart from Kotoko and Hearts of Oak matches which at any day, would attract supporters to the stadium because of history and the nostalgia of the past, the rest of the deep rooted traditional games like Hearts and Great Olympics have all wiped off.

Those days, when asked a fan what is the motivation in going to watch Kotoko and King Faisal? The person will gladly tell you, he or she is going to watch Stephen Oduro of Kotoko or Yussif Chisah of Faisal. Those were the words on the lips of majority of the fans but conspicuously missing now, you would virtually find all the league venues empty because of the quality of the players in the various teams.

This glaring evidence was witnessed when city rivals Great Olympics and Hearts of Oak crushed in the penultimate game of the FCPPL. The presence of Dan Quaye, Richard Kingston and Godwin Attram in the Olympics setup pulled an astonishing 21,000 and over spectatorship, something that has been missing well over three decades in Accra derby.

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In this spirit that, sportworldghana.com discusses three individuals whose brilliance and exploits in the past 15 years in the local game has left a lasting impressions in the minds of the football fans in Ghana and opens the topic as to who wears the crown as the best performing player in the last 15 years however this is not to discredit or take anything away from players whose excellence saw the grown of the local league.

ISHMAEL ADDO

There is no official announcement or whatsoever pertaining to his retirement but it seem nothing is happening to the former goal poacher. Many are those who are yet to terms why Ishmael Addo could not transform his devastating form in the Ghanaian game to become one of the European top strikers.

Addo dazzled the local scene with his goal scoring prowess in this millennium no local attacker has ever come close in recent times. Ishmael’s exploits with Hearts from 2000 to 2002 league seasons was never envisaged to an end of the road for goal scoring potency in the Ghanaian premier league.

Ismael Addo fluidity in front of goal is irreplaceable. He renders backlines jittery and sends shivers whenever he is on rampage. It is no surprise that his goal scoring credentials reminiscent that of Dan Owusu who managed three consecutive top scorer in the 1974, 75 and 76 season for Tano Boafokwah and Asante Kotoko”s Opoku Afriyie who scored 26 astonishing goals in the 1979 premiership season.

It was not a fluke that, Accra Hearts of Oak were in the peak of their life in the early 2000s. They were on the lips of everybody back then. With Ishmael Addo spearheading Hearts attack, teams feared to rub shoulders with them even their closest rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Coming from New Zealand U_17 world cup in 1999 where his 8 goals helped Ghana reached the semifinals, the young Addo quickly warmed his way through the blistering Hearts team which was composed of good materials and quickly immortalized himself as the lead man.

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If Hearts of Oak won the 2000 CAF champions, the ingenuity of Ishmael Addo was great factor to that historic feat. With no disrespect to the 64 battalions like Amankwah Mireku, Stephen Tetteh, Emmauel Osei Kuffour, Edmund Copson, Jacob Nartey, Sammy Adjei, Dan Quaye, Adjah Tetteh just to mention a few. Addo is among the few players in the Africa champions’ league to have scored hat-trick in away games. It was Ishmael Addo”s 90th strike that cemented Hearts’ champions’ league feat after Esperance were pushing for 2_2 equalizer.

Not the best of credit you would love to take upon oneself but it was Ishmael Addo two strikes in 2001 9, May that caused the worse football disaster in Africa when Hearts played Kotoko in a league match in Accra Sports Stadium.

Though Ishmael didn’t spend much time in the local league that notwithstanding, his 4 year duration saw him clinching the league top scorer on three seasons 2000 to 2002 and a squad member when Hearts won the league in 19999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and his return in 2009.

Unassumingly, Ishmael Addo has indeed left a mark on the minds of many football faithful.

STEPHEN ODURO

Like any other player who plays to better his economic fortunes alongside seeking world recognition, Stephen Oduro decided to seek little of those aforementioned issues but to commit his future for Kumasi Asante Kotoko. It is with this single reason that Stephen Oduro is the most decorated Asante Kotoko player in recent years. The Temale born joined Kotoko in the season of 1999_2000, incredibly, the thought of seeking outside experience has never crossed the mind of the nimble midfielder even when keeps knocking on his doors and for over 15 years, he has graced the red and white stripes though his days was intertwined by a stints with city rivals King Faisal. This means, Oduro is the long serving Kotoko player and one of the few local players to have chalked this feat.

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Cast in the image of Barcelona superstar Xavi Hernandez, very intelligent on the ball and has the insight of always supplying brilliant passes. There is no better player in the past 15 years who can link up with strikers like Oduro does for Kotoko.

Though Stephen had to wait for almost 4 seasons before he could lay his hands on league title in 2003, it didn’t take anything away from the brilliance of the member of the 1999 New Zealand U_17. Oduro”s agility in midfield is always a worry to opposite midfield spawning; instigating attacks are many values you cannot take away from the lad. In Europe, Christian Ronaldo, Steven Gerard, Lionel Messi, David Beckham are noted for brilliant free kicks but in our part of the world, Stephen Oduro holds that tramp card. He is remembered for his sumptuous kick he scored against rivals Hearts of Oak in 2002 at the Kumasi Sports Stadium and several of these in the past years.

Unlike Ishmael Addo, who was ruthless in front goal, Oduro was not like the former but raises to the occasion whenever the going becomes tough for the Porcupine warriors. The only thing which missing from Oduros” list of honors comparable to that of Ishmael is the Champions league and unfortunately Kotoko losing out on confederation cup to Hearts and the Africa Cup winners cup of which Oduro was an integral member.

Stephen continues stay at Kumasi Asante Kotoko has come with great successes as he managed to oust Ishmael in the member of league trophies won. Oduro was member of the Kotoko which won the league in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014. He is also credited with Ghana Super cup in 2013 and Kotoko 2001 and 2014 FA cup feats. Oduro has 4 SWAG cups under his berth.

He is indeed one in a millions gentleman.

EMMANUEL OSEI KUFFOUR

Emmanuel Osei Kuffour won the final spot after critical evaluation between Charles Taylor and Bernard Dong Bortey. Kuffour has officially tired from active football. Play¬mate of Ishmael Addo for Hearts before 2000s, there is no midfielder in the past 23 years in the local game who had eye for goal than Osei Kuffour the general as affectionately known. He was sometimes deployed to spearhead the attack.

Joined Hearts in the 1998 from Ebusua Dwarf after he had spent 3 years with his beloved club from 1994_1997, Emmanuel was part of the Hearts that took the local league by storm and in fact a stalwart in midfield. Driving long ranges and taking defenders by surprise was never a problem for “General”. Indeed, it was his exploits and sheer brilliant that coordinated Hearts 2000 CAF champions trophy.

It was not by mistake that as a midfielder, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour won the golden boot award in 2000 champions’ league campaign with 10 goals and indeed he scored the two goals when Esperance had taken before Ishmael wrapped it up.

The only contestant among the three who featured for Kotoko, Hearts and Ashgold respectively. In all this trips, Kuffour never lost his prowess as a good player. Though life in Ashgold didn’t come with any major silverware, it was better in Kotoko, he was part of the Kotoko team that won the 2007_08 league. Kuffour also had stints with Power Fc and returned to his traditional club Ebusua Dwarfs where he hanged his boots.

Osei paid his quota to the course of the national teams as he made 31 national appearances. He was part of the AFCON squad Ghana co-hosted with Nigeria in 2000 and member of the 2002 that made it to Mali and also featured in the 1996 Super Olympic tournament. He was part of the Hearts team that won the 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004 league. Kuffour was also part of Hearts that defeated Kotoko in the confederation finals. He has two FA cups to his credit and well as one Super cup.

The balls have been paraded in your cot, which among these three individuals has what it takes to wear the crowd in your estimation.

Source: sammy heywood okine