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Ghana Premier League: Who were the season’s overachievers and underperformers?

The 2016-17 Ghana Premier League season has come to a close, but which clubs shone, which defied the odds to rewrite their own history and who struggled to live up to the hype?

In this feature, we run down the biggest overachievers and the major underperformers of the recently concluded campaign.

Following their poor start to the 2015-16 season—losing all three opening games without scoring a goal and changing their coach—Aduana Stars learned several great lesson and duly hit the ground running.

Their reward was an improvement from being runners-up to champions.

By week six, the Fire Club were already soaring, leading the log with 16 points out of 18 and scoring 11 goals, with only two conceded.

However, Wafa put up a spirited challenge in a fairytale campaign. The Sogakope-based club lost their footing in the second-half of the season after selling almost half of their starting XI to clubs in Europe and other African countries.

They ultimately had to settle for second place.

Both Aduana Stars and Wafa were strong at home, picking up 12 victories from 15, but Aduana had the most away wins alongside Hearts of Oak, with four. That was what separated the two clubs as Stars completed the campaign with 57 points—the highest points tally amassed by any club since 2012.      

Another club who performed beyond expectations were Ebusua Dwarfs.

Although they finished 13 points behind Aduana, the former Ghana Premier League champions were able to finish in the top four on 44 points, just eight months after surviving relegation.

The 'Mysterious Club' picked up 12 wins and eight stalemates, even finishing above Asante Kotoko, who were expected to end their three-year run without a trophy after an ambitious transfer market.

The Porcupine Warriors, however, were left to settle for the FA Cup.

Kotoko amassed 42 points, four points below what they accrued in the previous season, but maintained their fifth place on the log.

However, the major talking point was how they appointed four coaches to manage only 30 games, which hugely affected their momentum.

They began the season with Croatian Zdravko Lugarusic at the helm after he took over from Michael Osei, but the former Gor Mahia manager was infamously sacked for deploying an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation despite grinding out results.

Lugarusic guided Kotoko through 11 league matches, winning five, drawing four and losing two, and they were second on the log, trailing leaders Wafa by just four points, when supporters stormed the training ground to drag him away.

Godwin Ablordey and Frimpong Manso followed suit, before Steve Pollack took over to finish the campaign.

When things seemed to be improving, the Porcupine Warriors were involved in a vehicle accident, with Pollack picking up injuries and one member of his technical team losing their life.

Wa All Stars were defending a title they won for the first time in their history, but finished sixth on 42 points, tied with Medeama, Berekum Chelsea and debutants Elmina Sharks.

Sharks were one of the surprise packages as they became the only promoted side to maintain their top flight status, and will definitely be among the contenders next term.

Wa All Stars began the campaign with a youthful side after many of their first-team players left for greener pastures earlier in the campaign.

Nonetheless, they were able to finish within the top eight despite parting ways with coach Enos Adipah.

Ashanti Gold, on the other hand, started slowly and were wobbling at one point, but finished the season on a high note with a win at home on the final day against the champions to maintain their top flight status.

The Miners parted ways with Bashiru Hayford in March when they were lying just one place above the foot on the log, but improved enough to drag clear of the dropzone.

Former player Charles Kwabena Akunnor took over and they finished the campaign in tenth on 41 points, just three below the top four.

The Miners won three consecutive away games in the league—the only team to do so—and produced the division's top scorer, as Hans Kwofie netted 17 times including two braces and one hat-trick.

The 28-year-old scored against seven clubs at home, and only Asante Kotoko away. Never before has a player won the award after scoring in so few games.

Accra Great Olympics were disappointing both on and off the field.

In mid-April, rumours of a squad in turmoil began to emerge, and there was public confirmation when new coach Tom Strand led a training session with 14 first-team players at St. Aquinas Park, while embattled Godwin Attram, who was demoted to assistant, refused his new role and led 15 other players through training at Fire Service Park in Accra.

Although Olympics took six points against Hearts and Bolga All Stars, and were also without a defeat in their last four fixtures ahead of the final game of the season in Bechem, they were stunned by an early goal from Amed 'Simba' Toure, condemning them to their second relegation in four years.

After replacing Dreams FC following a ruling by Court of Arbitration for Sports, Tema Youth couldn't stand the heat.

The Harbour City club could only take ten wins from 30 games, and a 2-0 defeat on matchday 30 at the Golden City Park against Chelsea meant that they return to the second tier.

As if that wasn’t bad, Bolga All Stars performed even more poorly, conceding 77 goals and scoring just 21.

The Tamale-based club won just two games and had the longest winless run of 20 games, failing to win away and losing 14. Their only draw came against Ashanti Gold in Obuasi, while off the field, they were hit by a financial crisis…losing half their players in the process.

The club was put up for sale at one point, and they played almost all of the second-round matches with just 14 outfield players.

Techiman Eleven Wonders and Karela FC will be making their debuts in the top flight next season, while Dreams FC have returned to the top table.

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