Last Sunday at the Otumfuo Park in Dechemso, football fans watched in awe as Ejisu displayed incredible skill to win the wildly popular 2023 MTN Ashantifest Soccer Festival.
After a thrilling 1-1 draw in the semifinals, they defeated Santasi 4-3 on penalties to win the championship and go away with a huge trophy, GHC 20,000 in cash, and various MTN mementos.
Enock Morrison gave Santasi the lead in the 55th minute with a free kick that beat custodian Fatau Seidu after defenders mishandled the kick. Ejisu, who were expected to win the game, were now down a goal.
After a very slow first half, the eventual champions came back to tie the score in the 70th minute thanks to a beautiful goal from Raruf Abubakar, setting up an exciting conclusion.
The two champions played skillfully to prevent errors, with defenders being cautious and strategic and strikers working to find the back of the net.
After 90 minutes, a shootout must be used to determine the winner, and the audience gave the Ejisu boys strong morale and drive to win.
Juliet Asante, the female referee who presided over the championship match, made the proceedings entertaining to watch.
Dichemso suffered a 3-1 defeat against Kwadaso in the third-place game. Ransford Bonsu scored a consolation goal for Kwadaso in addition to two goals from Samuel Sarpong and one each from George Agyemang and Ransford Bonsu.
Chiefs, MTN executives, as well as current and past footballers and coaches including Samuel Boadu, Paa Kwesi Fabin, Akwesi Appiah, Kweku Frimpong, Abdul Razak "Golden Boy," and Ibrahim Danlad of Asante Kotoka and Black Meteors renown, attended the finals as dignitaries.
Mr. Germain Naatey, Senior Manager of Brands and Communications at MTN, praised the losing teams for making this year's event so intensely contested and thrilling while congratulating the champions for their efforts.
It had been an interesting voyage, he added, one that had showcased tremendous talents and brought communities together in a friendly yet fiercely competitive environment.
He continued by saying that MTN Ghana is dedicated to the growth and promotion of sports, particularly football, in the nation and would keep giving young people the tools they need to succeed.
The tournament had significantly improved each year, so he promised a greater event the next year.