Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac must produce all the tricks up his sleeve if Ghana is to go past the Nigerian challenge into the first ever CHAN competition in Ivory Coast. The task is daunting (however, not impossible) especially when one thinks of the two away goals advantage the Nigerians have in their kitty. Additionally, reports have filtered in that the Nigerians have beefed their squad with 11 more players.
The challenge of the task ahead not withstanding, Ghana must qualify for the CHAN at all cost. CHAN presents us with a rare opportunity to progress domestic players into the limelight and possibly into the mainstream Black Stars. This is why Mr. Rajevac and his team should be on a mission to ensure that we are not outscored by Nigeria in Abuja.
The good news is that Mr. Rajevac is reported to be harboring buoyed optimism about Ghana’s ability to accomplish this mission. This is fair enough, one can expect such optimism from a coach, but in reality there are internal threats he must overcome and his strategic abilities will be in full test.
Weakness 1: Tactical Confusion
When I look at Mr. Rajevac and his stiff-necked penchant to rearrange the tactical structure of Ghanaian football, I get the jitters. Probably, someone needs to call Mr. Rajevac and his entire bench to order and remind them that common sense ought to precede whimsical wishes.
First, what do we have? what will work with what we have? Mr. Rajevac insists on a 4-2-3-1 with pacy wingers. It appears to me that without pacy wingers he has nothing else to offer. It is okay to do what you believe in, but it strikes me as odd that Mr. Rajevac who so much insists on the wing game, plays Jordan Opoku, a natural attacking midfield machine on the right flank.
To the best of my knowledge, Ghana doesn’t have as much competitive advantage on the wings as we have in central, defensive and attacking midfield and Mr. Rajevac should be encouraged to explore those advantages. Structuring his game around our clear weakness is not something which should be entertained. This tactical confusion has led to a clearly bleeding midfield and a consequent pressure on the defense.
Weakness 2: A Wobbly Defense
Ghana’s CHAN central defense is clearly missing the quality of the pair between Hanan Gyiwa and John Boye. Godfried Yeboah and Ofosu Appiah simply lack quality. They are weak in the air an on the ground. They allow the opposition to draw circles around. Worst of all, they find it very difficult to provide good enough cover for the wing back strategy of Mr. Rajevac.
The Wing Backs are themselves a huge problem and more weakness to the defense with their inability to fall back. When Ghana met Nigeria at Ohene Djan, it was clear that the Nigerians were taking advantage of this weakness. All their two goals were scored after they had taken down the lateral defenders. These problems ought to be sorted out if we are to outscore Nigeria.
As for Fatau Dauda, the least said about him the better, his anticipation and ability to handle crosses is very suspect. In view of this, when the laterals are invaded and dangerous crosses flow in from all angles he begins to have shaky feet and flabby hands.
Weakness 3: Morale Problems?
I think Ghana’s CHAN squad finds it difficult to get the right motivation to play games. It appears there is a major morale problem in camp. Probably the amazing come back against Nigeria can be used to improve upon their self-confidence.
Yes We Can
In spite of these hurdles, all is well that ends well. If Ghana tightens the defense and closes the midfield while drawing on the recent form of Samuel Inkoom and Francis Coffie, then the Nigerian hurdle will be easy to clear. There is no gain saying that Ghana walks on thin ropes with the opened-up midfield and gaps in the defense, but all hope cannot be lost, we can beat the Nigerians, Yes We Can!
The Men Lined Up For The Job
Goal Keepers: Fatau Dauda, Osei Boateng
Defeders: Samuel Inkoom, Habib Mohammed, Ofosu Appiah, Emmanuel Ansong, Gdfred Yeboah
Midfielders/Wingers: Daniel Yeboah, Jordan Opoku , Edmund Owusu Ansah, Emmauel Agyeman Badu, Mark Sekyere, Awal Mohammed, Francis Coffie, Edmund Owusu-Peprah
Forwards: Alex Asamoah, Eric Bekoe, Yaw Antwi, Kwadwo Poku
Paddy W. Quarmine