Once again, the gods are at the conspiring best. They have scripted another nail-biting season of life’s greatest soap opera – Football. This time, they are asking Ghana to put up two interesting acts – First, The Black Stars must free itself from the strategic enveloping attack its three West African neighbours have schemed to launch at Angola 2010. As if the West African threat was not enough, the gods are expecting Ghana’s Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac to as we say in Ghana, ‘point his left hand at his home land’ in his first ever World Cup outing. Meanwhile, Ghanaians expect him to do the unachieved (a foreign coach to win the Nations Cup for Ghana). This is what we call: ‘2 troubles, one god’ it will be exciting to watch how Milovan Rajevac comes out between ‘the rock and the hard place’.
The gods may have their ideas, but Ghanaians have some ambitions of their own. Many a Ghanaian expects the Black Stars to win something in 2010. But as they say in Ghana: ‘no man can call himself a warrior without being subjected to the perils of warfare.’ So now that the die is cast, the war drums have been sounded. Looked at from a certain perspective, one would say that the task is too daunting for the Black Stars, given their recent string of lethargic performances. However, I see it differently. I think Team Ghana will exceed all the expectations.
In this article, I explore what Ghana can expect in Group B of Angola 2010 and in Group D of South Africa 2010 and how Ghana could perhaps strategically worm our way to cup glory in 2010.
Togo: Statistically, Togo is a weak team. Out of the 10 games they played in 2009, Togo managed only 2 wins. They conceded up to 20 goals and could only manage 5 goals even with their African Player of the year. In spite of their comparatively more experienced coach (Hubert Velud). Ghana should clear the Togo threat on January 11, 2010 with some ease.
Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso could set Cabinda ablaze come January. They have unfinished business with Togo; scores to settle with Ivory Coast and a point to prove against Ghana. However, Burkina cannot handle big reputation teams (Ivory Coast, Ghana and Mali), but they will be quick to damage small-time teams (like Togo) without remorse. Expect Burkina Faso will buckle down under the might of Ivory Coast; wallop Togo and suffer against Ghana.
Ivory Coast: Pundits may feel this is probably the year of the ‘Paper Elephants’. At each tournament, they come with big names and big dreams, yet they have nothing to show. I do not expect anything different at Angola 2010. Probably, they will walk over Togo and Burkina Faso, but their terrible goalkeeping and lack of focus will not escape the pseudo-attacking might of the Black Stars’ midfield.
Coming out of this group, Ghana is likely to meet Mali or Algeria from Group A. However it goes, the Black Stars must strategically find Mali. We have beaten them in their own backyard this year and our confidence over them should give us psychological advantages over them. Of course if we were to meet Malawi or the basket ball players from Angola, the gods will be praised.
“I’m not really happy with the group we’ve landed in,” said Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac, who finds himself alongside Germany, Australia and Serbia. “It’s a very strong section. Germany is one of the best teams in Europe and of course the favourite to take first place.” ~ Milovan Rajevac
SOUTH AFRICA 2010
By June 2010, I expect the Black Stars to have corrected their mistakes from Angola 2010 and friendly games. I expect Ghana to go to South Africa 2010 as African champions. Nonetheless, when Ghana plays her first game at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 13th, I wonder how Milovan Rajevac will feel. I am also beginning to imagine what the soothsayers and the mystics will read into the Ghana v Serbia game. Will Milovan be on the bench? Will he step aside? While we ponder on these, let’s take a look at the opposition ahead.
Serbia: Throughout the qualifiers, Serbia scored a goal every 40 minutes while their opponents had to work an average 112 minutes to get a ball in their net. They have relied on Chelsea’s Ivanovic to do the most of their scoring. Nemanja Vidic and Nikola Zigic have been some of their most influential players. Ghana should have less difficulty see off the Serbian challenge.
Australia: The Socceroos have a worse scoring rate than Serbia. Over the qualifying period, they managed to a goal every 65 minutes. Tim Cahill and Brett Emerton have been the marksmen for the Aussie team. Australia has the best defensive record in Group D. They concede one gaol every 310 minutes. That is the huge reputation goal keeper Mark Schwarzzer and his defence bring into the tournament.
Germany: You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to tell that German will start as favourites in Group D. By the 34th minute, Germany would have scored against every opponent it meets. This means that one the average; they have scored between 2-3 goals per game. The weapons of this attack have been Miroslav Klose, Lucas Podolski and Mikel Ballack. However, Bastian has been a stealth weapon which needs to be kept in sight. Defensively, it takes 180 minutes of work to put the ball in the German net. You are lucky to score against Germany in 2 games.
Comparatively, when it comes to scoring, Ghana comes third after Germany and Serbia. Matthew Amoah, Manuel Agogo and Prince Tagoe have given Ghana a goal after every 56 minutes. Defensively, Ghana comes third again after Australia and Germany. Teams have had to struggle for 129 minutes before scoring against Ghana.
The need for Ghana to work harder at its performance becomes quite clear. If we are to achieve our aims at South Africa 2010, we need to take our planning to another level. I propose that the GFA appoints a scouting team as soon as possible. This scouting team should have the expertise and financial support to monitor the performances of each of the teams in Group D and perhaps Group C.
We need to have dossiers on each of their coaches (the decisions they make, their philosophy, tactical outlook etc); their teams (morale, energy, strength etc) and their players (every move, every skill, every emotion etc). We must know our opponents. We must have a fair idea of every potential decision they are likely to make as individuals or as a team. This way, we shall get stronger and stronger with each match and we will never have the need to change our goal of reaching at least semi-finals of South Africa 2010 and even winning it. We will