As we usher in 2012, many have taken a retrospective look at the performance of Ghana’s football in 2011. I add to the discussion by taking a look at the performance of the Black Stars in 2011.
My fondest Black Stars memory of 2011 was that wonder goal scored by Gyan against England at Wembley. That was an absolutely sublime goal. Who would want to remember any of Prince Tagoe’s howlers in 2011?
The year started on the back of some great performances in 2010. There was even greater hope of a wonderful 2011 with the signing of a smooth-talking Serbian coach, Goran Stevanovic, who promised attacking football.
Stevanovic led the Black Stars to what many will describe as an excellent year. The team produced a 60% win in all games and 100% win in competitive matches. 2 of the 6 friendly games played were drawn and the other two were lost. The team clearly took their job seriously. The Black Stars did not fall to any African opposition in 2011; showing the supremacy with which they go into the Orange African Nations’s Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The Black Stars were stingy in defense in 2011; allowing only 7 goals to go past them. In competitive games, the Black Stars conceded only once. In 4 of the 10 games played in 2011, the Black Stars kept clean sheets. With the exception of South Korea, the Black Stars did not concede more than one goal against any team.
The most significant change in the Black Stars defense was the introduction of Adam Kwarassey who kept the post 5 times out of the 10 games played and conceded 2 goals and kept 3 clean sheets. Adam took over from the experienced Richard Kingson who had kept the post 5 times and conceded as many times and kept 1 clean sheet.
John Paintsil (RB), Isaac Vorsah (CD) and John Mensah (CD) were the most capped defenders. A general problem, which was probably self-imposed, was the lack of a consistent Left Back. We saw David Addy start a couple of games early in 2011, but somehow he was replaced by Lee Addy who fell to Daniel Opare at some point. Later in the year, the young and explosive Alhassan Massahudu was introduced to the position and he has held it down to date. But one wonders how long Massahudu can keep the position.
The midfield has always been Ghana’s strength. In 2011, the Black Stars midfield did not disappoint. The midfield which was constructed around Kwadwo Asamoah, Emmanuel Agyeman Badu and Sulley Muntari produced 50% (9) of the total 18 goals scored by the team.
|Sulley Ali Muntari||8||1|
One weakness of this midfield however was the obvious difficulty Stevanovic seemed to have had in finding regular wingers. Almost all the wingers used by Stevanovic did not start more than half of the 10 games played.
Another obvious challenge for the Black Stars midfield is the shortage of ball jugglers and creative midfielders. Throughout 2011, so much was expected of Kwadwo Asamoah in this regard, but the Udinese midfielder did not live up to the expectations even though one can tell that he gave out his best.
In general, the Black Stars exhibited some lethal attacking form. A total of 18 goals were scored; averaging 2.5 goals per game in competitive matches and 1.3 goals per game in friendly matches. This low friendly game average is not surprising as friendly games were always against tougher teams like Nigeria, England, Brazil and Korea Republic. Asamoah Gyan was the lead scorer with 4 goals.
|STATISTIC||COMPETITIVE GAMES||FRIENDLY GAMES||GRAND TOTAL|
|No. of games with 2 or more goals||4||2||6|
|No. of games with less than 2 goals||0||4||4|
|No. of games without scoring||0||2||2|
Ten (56%) of all the 18 goals were scored in the first half. Of the 10 games played in 2011, Ghana failed to score in only 2 (against Nigeria and Brazil). In terms of attacking depth, 10 players contributed 17 of the goals (1 of the goals was an own goal). These goals came from every department of Ghana’s 4-5-1 [4-4-1-1] game – 4 goals from defenders, 3 from the midfield, 5 from wingers and 4 from strikers.
|Sulley Ali Muntari||CM/WING||1|
2011 was as good a year as 2010, if not better! The good news for the team is that the blend of youth and experience is almost seamless, hence these above average performances should be expected for a good number of years to come.
With such an impressive performance behind them, the Black Stars should be able to go to the African Nations Cup in January 2012 with confidence and challenge for the title.
If the 2011 performance is translated to the Nations Cup Finals, then, Ghanaians have every reason to have their hopes up. Chances are the Black Stars will score at least 2 or more goals in every game. These goals could come from any department of the game. The likelihood of conceding is high though, but no more than a goal per match. The possibility of conceding will be bigger if loopholes in the left-back position are not sealed, unnecessary penalties are not conceded and the coach works on his team’s poor off-side trap record.
All of US$ 600,000 or more was spent of on Goran Stevanovic in 2011 to patch up these holes; he has to earn his money in 2012 and bring us silverware. Ghanaians will not settle for anyother thing.