The litmus test awaits Milovan Rajevac at the Cairo International Stadium on February 11, 2009. This far, it is pretty clear to everyone that Mr. Rajevac has not been exceptional with Ghana’s Black Stars. The facts speak for themselves. From the 5 matches Ghana has played under the direction of Mr. Rajevac, The Black Stars have recorded only 1 win; scoring 4 goals and conceding 4. Now this record is very poor and must not be accepted under any circumstance. Especially, considering that we have mostly played Mickey-mouse teams – Tanzania (1:1, Draw), Libya (1:1, Draw), Lesotho (3:0, Win), South Africa (2:1, Loss) and Tunisia (0:0, Draw).
Yet, some have said he is a good coach and needs to be given time. Some others have also said time is not on anyone’s side; that Mr. Rajevac is clueless and doesn’t deserve the confidence we have placed in him. Mr. Rajevac himself has spoken on several occasions his plans to advance Ghana’s football course. I think this friendly game with Egypt will be a reality check for all sides of this debate.
The Egypt friendly is poised to be a reality check experience for Ghana because of a number of reasons. First, Mr. Rajevac’s tactical competence will be extremely tested by the world’s sixth best coach in 2008, Hassan Shehata . The Egyptian tactician has won 4 of his last 5; scoring 11 and conceding 5. Now, suppose these teams (Benin, Djibouti, DR Congo and Sudan) are also mickey-mouse teams, Shehata stands clearly taller. Will Milovan punch holes into the tactical ego of Shehata? Will Shehata expose Milovan’s tactical ineptitudes? Reality awaits at the Cairo stadium.
The difficulty of Mr. Rajevac’s test becomes clearer when one analyzes the head-to-head records of the two countries. Clearly, Egypt is miles ahead of Ghana, strategically positioning itself as Ghana’s major African threat. No other African team is ahead of Ghana in head-to-head statistics. Just read this: In terms of FIFA ranking, whereas Ghana averages 39th, Egypt’s all-time average rank is 29th. When things did not go well for Egypt, they placed 43. Ghana’s worse ranking was 43.
Between 1973 to date, Ghana has met Egypt in 12 friendly games, 8 of which have been played in Egypt. Ghana has won only 3, while managing a paltry 3. It stands to reason, as a matter of course that Egypt has won 6 of these 12 games. They have scored 17 goals against us and we have managed only 9. When these games were played in Cairo, Egypt has scored 12 goals while Ghana has scored 5. The gap in quality is yawning and we will be deceiving ourselves think otherwise. Will Milovan come up with a vital win away to close the huge head-to-head chasm? Reality awaits at the Cairo stadium.
When Mr. Claude Le Roy led a totally tired and uncommitted Black Stars team to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he ended up picking 5 goals from the net. Mr. Rajevac must have taken lessons from that situation. So he has declared: “Only the best players and those who will give of their maximum will make it into the Black Stars because it is a privilege and an honour to play for the nation.” Well, the idea sounds goo. So lets look at our charges for the Reality-Check battle at Cairo International Stadium.
Goalkeepers: Richard Kingson, George Owu
Defenders: John Paintsil, Eric Addo, Jonathan Quartey, Nana Akwesi Asare, William Mensah, Habib Mohammed
Midfielders: Anthony Annan, Moussa Narry, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, Haminu Dramani, Kwadwo Asamoah
Strikers: Prince Tagoe, Asamoah Gyan, Sam Yeboah and Junior Agogo.
Are these the best set of players we can call-up? Are all these players regular starters in their teams? Some have said that the team has balance and looks pretty good, but can they defend the national flag against this Egyptian team:?
Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed, Mahmoud Fathallah, Hani Saied (Zamalek), Ahmed Al-Muhammadi, Abdul-Aziz Tawfeek, Ahmed Raouf (ENPPI), Ahmed Samir Farag, Ahmed Khairi (Ismaili), Ahmed Eid, Ahmed Abdul-Ghani (Harras Hodoud), Moahmed Barakat, Ahmed Al-Sayed, Wael Gomaa, Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Hassan (Ahli). Essam Al-Hadari (Sion), Hosni Abd-Rabou (Ahli Dubai), Emad Meteb (Ittihad Jeddah), Mohamed Shawky (Middlesbrough), Mido, Amr Zaki (Wigan Athletic), Mohamed Zidan (Borussia Dortmund).
Reality awaits at the Cairo stadium.
I am Ghanaian and so I have prayed for Ghana to win. I am fully behind Ghana. However, in the end, the grass will tell whether we are ready to qualify for South Africa 2010 and to show a good face. In the end, a certain reality will hit Ghana and I predict it will hit us very hard. I have asked the oracles to make this beckoning reality a positive one, which will boost our confidence ahead of qualification for South Africa 2010.