Presidential election: Will the 2016 league winner determine it?
Riddle Riddle! What is the relationship between Kumasi Asante Kotoko and the National Democratic Congress (NDC)? What about the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Accra Hearts of Oak?There are two things that are never absent from the Ghanaian’s daily hustle and bustle - football and politics.
Take the two out of everyday life, and Ghana would probably be as drab as chewing a tree bark. The two are, however, defined by superstition and myths.
Football & superstition
Football and political superstition has a long history.
One of the most infamous cases of superstition in Ghana football was about Accra Hearts of Oak in the 1970s. In 1977, they played exceptionally well throughout the continental championship.
However, in the final against Hafia Club of Guinea something interesting happened. The players uncharacteristically missed a number of sitting chances.
They played all the good football in their own half of the pitch, but whenever anyone found himself in a scoring position, he either ‘ballooned’ the ball over the bar or gave a questionable pass.
It emerged later in the rumour mill that the team had allegedly consulted an oracle in the build up to the match, who had predicted a win, but cautioned that the player who would score the first goal would die.
In the 1998 World Cup, Laurent Blanc would kiss Fabien Barthez’s bald head before each match. France went on to win the tournament, conceding just two goals.
Surprisingly, the two didn’t reconstruct their sentimental ritual when they played together in the Premier League for Manchester United.
Even the world’s best players can be caught in the web of superstition. The Brazilian legend, Pele, once gave a match shirt to a fan, only to suffer a dip in form. He instructed a friend to track down the old shirt and a week later, it was returned to Pele who immediately returned to his goal-scoring ways.
What the friend did not tell Pele was that he actually could not find the original shirt and simply gave him another one.
So far as there is day and night, politics and football will always embrace superstition.
League winners & elections outcome
Imagine officials of the NDC pumping loads of cash into Kumasi Asante Kotoko to enable the Porcupine boys win the 2016 league. How about the NPP dipping deep into its financial chest to lift Accra Hearts of Oak onto the league table to ultimately win the league?
It sounds impossible, downright dismissible and funny considering the patrons in each camp, right? Former President J.A Kufuor had once managed Asante Kotoko and the late President J.E.A Mills was in charge of Hearts of Oak’s affairs in the 1980s.
Admittedly, there are also some NPP gurus such as Dr Nyaho Tamakloe who on any day will do anything for the rainbow boys (Hearts of Oak) and the same goes for Mr Yamoah Ponkor, a die-hard NDC man, who wines and dines with Kotoko.
But it is an open secret that Accra Hearts of Oak’s supporters tend to be more of NDC than NPP and the opposite is true of NPP sympathisers being loyal to Kotoko.
However, the historical scripts point to an interesting trend from 1992. Apart from 1996, whenever Kotoko won the league in an election year, the NDC was victorious in the elections.
The NPP also emerged the winner of the elections any election year Hearts of Oak also won the elections.
In other words, whenever a club from the Ashanti Region wins the league, the NDC wins the elections, as was the case of Ashgold (then Obuasi Goldfields) in 1996.
Here is what the breakdown is like. In 1992, when Ghana decided to trek on the multi-party path, Kotoko won the league that year, and in the elections, J.J Rawlings of the NDC won the elections, beating NPP’s Professor Adu-Boahene to the presidency.
In 1996, neither Kotoko nor Hearts had the energy to contain the strength of the then Obuasi Goldfields who defied convention and won the league. In that year’s elections, Rawlings again overcame Mr J.A Kufuor to win the election.
In 2000, the NPP, riding on the wings of change, sent the NDC out of the corridors of power with Kufuor leading the charges. What happened in the local league? A fear-some Hearts side won the league and conquered Africa.
Four years later in 2004, Ghana went to the polls again to re-elect President Kufuor and again, Hearts decorated its trophy cabinet with another league title. In the CAF Confederation Cup which was postponed to 2005 because of the elections, Hearts again pummelled Kotoko into submission to win what was tagged as ‘the virgin cup.’
In 2008, when the battle line for the election was drawn and boots laced on the soccer field, the NDC got the keys to the Osu Castle, with NDC’s JEA Mills, and Kotoko lifting the coveted league.
Similarly, in 2012, a resurgent Kumasi Asante Kotoko pulled the stitches out of the title ambitions of 15 other clubs, including Hearts, in the conquest. The NDC also lived up to the trend to win the 2012 elections.
Who wins this year?
This year, however, with four matches to end the league, Wa All Stars seems to threaten the trend. But both Hearts and Kotoko, just like the NPP and the NDC, are in stiff competition for the ultimate—the trophy and the Flagstaff House respectively.
So, you see, there is enough reason for the NPP to support Accra Hearts of Oak to win the 2016 league and the NDC more than enough reason to arm Kotoko to win the 2016 trophy. Perhaps, it could also be sheer coincidence.