So far, Ghana’s dream of winning her first FiFA Youth Cup is on course. Ghana’s apparent dominance of youth football is yet to result in cups at the U-20 level. Since Australia 1993 when Ghana first participated in the FiFA Youth Championship, team Ghana’s best performances have come in 1993 and 2001 when Ghana came up as runners up.
Ghana’s inability to win the cup has been in spite the depth of quality she has produced year-in-year-out. This forms the basis of the claims by so-called experts of the game that Satellites 2009 are the most ungifted U-20 side Ghana ever put together. While this could be true, the fighting spirit and courage displayed by the boys during this tournament gives some of us the hope that perhaps ‘the message is clear – this could be the year for the real thing’.
As will be usual, Ghana has to be subjected to the reality and nature has selected The Republic of Korea to give Ghana the test. Ghana versus Korea is an interesting match-up. These are two distinct teams with clearly different histories. I present in this note, a general comparison of the teams and also present a statistical break down of their performances in the tournament and argue that Ghana looks in better shape to win the game.
Some historical antecedents
While Korea has nothing but a fair play award at Mexico1983 to show, Ghana boasts good performances at Australia 1993 (runners up); Malaysia 1997 (semi finals); Nigeria 1999 (round of 16); and Argentina 2001 (runners up). At Egypt 2009 however, Ghana seems to be displaying a declining form (W W D D-in 90 mins) while the Koreans are on song (L D W W).
So what does Korea bring into this game and how does Ghana present a formidable counter?
Ghana must expect fewer but more accurate shots from the Koreans. So far, the Koreans have managed 46 shots in 4 games with 20 (43.5%) being on target. This works to an average of 11.5 shots per game. This falls far behind Ghana’s 21.8 shots per game on the average which is composed of 87 shots in overall with an accuracy of 38%. In their attempt to take these shots, the Koreans have forced 19 corner kicks and have been caught offside only 3 times, whereas Ghana has forced 36 corner kicks and have been found guilty of committing off sides 18 times. Clearly Ghana attacks more than Korea, but Korea is more accurate than Ghana.
If Ghana is to get over the Koreans, it means these attacking runs must result into goals. It follows from the data that Ghana does not have trouble scoring. The pressure will thus be on the Koreans who have a history of playing 90 minutes without scoring.
The accuracy of the Korean attack compared to Ghana’s potency is shown as follows. The Koreans have scored 7 goals out of four games (6 of which were scored in the last two matches) with 3 goals against. Still on goals, the statistics show that the Koreans have scored 2 goals in the first half (both of which were score before 22 minutes). The 5 goals they scored in the second half were all scored before the 75th minute. They have not managed to score a goal beyond the 71st minute in open play. They concede mostly in the first half. They have conceded a goal each in the first, second and third quarter of the game.
Team Ghana appear to be on top of the Koreans in attack. This far, Ghana has scored 10 goals and conceded 4. Like the Koreans, majority of Ghana’s goals are scored in the third quarter of the game (just after the first half). The difference between Ghana and Korea in terms of ‘when they sore’ is that Ghana has not scored before 22 minutes of the game. But the Ghanaian team seem to have longevity and cannot be written off till the final whistle unlike the Koreans who seem lose potency by the 70th minute.
Ghana will win this game
Clearly, holding extraneous variables constant, Ghana is likely to take more shots and score more goals than the Koreans. I predict that Ghana will score at least 3 goals in this game. The best the Koreans can do is to manage a draw. If they do, it will come as a big shock to me if they manage to stand Ghana’s fitness. May I be quick to put in a disclaimer that football follows no logic.