On Sunday, Kumasi Asante Kotoko claimed an impressive 3-1 victory over rivals Accra Hearts of Oak to lift their 9th FA Cup title at the Tamale Sports Stadium, largely thanks to the heroics of striker Sadick Adams, who scored a stunning first-half hattrick to set them on the way.
For the organizers of the competition, this was yet another beautiful end to the great story of the FA Cup competition which had been running since it was revamped in 2011.
The MTN FA Cup competition has taken publicity more seriously than the GPL. Unlike the Ghana Premier League, GPL, the FA cup has also recognized the important role that social media plays in today’s competitively challenging media landscape, and have tapped into it to their own benefit.
The launch and draw for each round of the competition is very well patronized by the media, and they have contracted some media personnel with huge following on social media to send out tweets about the competition.
Their twitter handle is constantly active, and the FA Cup trophy goes on a tour ahead of the final, and generally creating a great buzz around the competition weeks before the final is played.
Ahead of this year’s final, the organizers spent weeks in Tamale promoting the final. They also created a hashtag #Unmissable, and a mascot named “Obia Nye Obia” just for the final.
The FA Cup final has been played in Takoradi, Cape Coast, Tamale to great turnout – a testament to their great publicity.
While the GPL has often been riddled with accusations of referee manipulation and bribery allegations, the FA Cup competition has managed to rid itself of such rhetoric, hence giving the competition more credibility. Unfancied lower tier sides have knocked out premier league opposition in the past without one accusing the other of “buying” the referee. Winners of the competition are often seen as deserved, and clubs have been shown to attach more seriousness to this competition than the GPL.
Former Bechem United, Medeama and Great Olympics coach Tom Strand famously remarked, “I think I like the FA Cup better. It has more credibility than the league, I think and it is better organized.”
This is a great compliment to the competition from a coach who has managed three different sides in both the league and the FA Cup competition.
The MTN FA Cup competition begins at the preliminary stage with 48 Division Two clubs, and 48 Division One clubs – that’s a whopping 96 clubs involved at that stage. The 48 qualified teams are then drawn against the 16 Premier league clubs for the round of 64; then round of 32; round of 16; all the way to the final.
If you do the math, the FA Cup competition involves an astonishing 112 clubs. Yet, the FA Cup Committee have distinguished themselves by ensuring a smooth run of the competition every season, with no unnecessary breaks and protests threatening the progress of the competition.
The GPL with only 16 clubs, has an unwanted habit of breaking the league for weeks, and sometimes months, thereby interrupting progress and interest. Plus, it’s a hub for legal battles. The league ended two weeks ago, and clubs are still winning boardroom points. Case in point – Olympics won 3 points against Hearts of Oak after a successful protest, while they had another against Elmina Sharks dismissed – both last week.
The MTN FA Cup winner is guaranteed GHc 150,000 – Ghc 50,000 as prize money for winning the final, and the additional Ghc 150,000 as support money for their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup competition. Note that the maximum number of matches a premier league team can play before winning the FA Cup is 6, and 7 games if the winner is a division one or division two club. MTN, headline sponsors of the competition, have also been known to dole out several other packages for participants. Clubs that get knocked out at the preliminary stage get compensatory prize money.
While it is not known yet how much exactly this year’s winner of the GPL will get as prize money, last year’s winners Wa All Stars were given $30,000. This year, each GPL club was set to receive $16,000 as their share of sponsorship money from broadcast sponsors of the league –StarTimes. The operational cost of playing 30 league games a season and 7 matches, are obviously miles apart. Put the figures into perspective, and it’s clear which makes more financial sense.
The new FA Cup competition was reintroduced in 2011 after it went on a 10-year break without being played. And for the last 7 editions, Kumasi Asante Kotoko are the only traditional “giant” club to win it – in 2014 and 2017. The rest have been won by a lot of first-timers. In fact, the first three were won by first-timers.
In 2011, Nania FC, then in Division One, shocked Asante Kotoko in the final to lift the trophy. En route to the final, the Crocodiles knocked out then league champions Berekum Chelsea.
In 2012, it was New Edubiase who beat Ashantigold to win their first ever FA Cup title. Medeama followed suit in 2013, beating league champions Kumasi Asante Kotoko to their first title.
When Kotoko won it in 2014, it proved the abnormality instead of the usual, as Medeama returned to claim a second title in the 2015 final.
In 2016, two sides with fairy-tale stories met in the final. Sleeping giants Okwahu United had somehow masterminded a great run to the final, but their amazing story was denied a fairytale end, as Bechem United beat them to their own first ever FA Cup triumph, cementing the true meaning of the competitions’ newfound tagline –’Obia Nye Obia’.