With one match still left to play, Accra Hearts of Oak clinched their status as champions of the Ghana Premier League on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Liberty Professionals. With rivals Asante Kotoko falling 2-1 to Bechem United, the Phobians established an unassailable four-point lead at the top, allowing the celebrations to begin with enthusiasm at the Accra Sports Stadium and throughout the Ghanaian capital.
The festive atmosphere was already in full force by the time the match kicked off but Hearts of Oak still had a job to do. Hearts’ first opportunity came when star forward Daniel Afriyie was sent in by a through ball from Victor Aidoo but brave goalkeeping from Liberty Professionals keeper Kofi Baah kept out Afriyie’s shot. The visitors proved to be stubborn competition with top division survival still to play for as Amadu Awudu’s low free kick was the best first half chance for Liberty, with Hearts custodian Richard Attah dealing with the shot comfortably.
Kojo Obeng Junior lacked composure on a golden opportunity when a service found the Hearts attacker, who rushed his shot and sent it over the bar. However, just before halftime the Phobians found the crucial opening goal in stoppage time. Salifu Ibrahim’s corner kick was sent in with pace to the near post where Afriyie ran on and flicked a powerful header past Baah, who had little chance to react on his save attempt.
Baah had a good performance to keep Hearts from extending their lead in the second half, first keeping out a free kick and then denying a shot from a tough angle by Ibrahim. Hearts of Oak failed to put the match away and their opponents from Dansoman found an equalizer late on to obtain a crucial point from the match. A free kick from the right flank found defender Kwame Paul, who placed a brilliant header beyond Attah in the 87th minute to help Liberty Professionals snatch what could be an essential result.
While Hearts secured the title, Liberty Professionals are one point out of the relegation zone and face King Faisal for their final match with both teams still not out of danger of the drop. Highlights of the match are below.