Since Ghana football emerged from the ‘dark ages’ of the 1980s, the definitive description of a left (full/wing) back has been Isaac Asare of the 1992 and 1994 African Nations Cup Squads.
Many believe, even if out of mere myopia, that Asare’s shoes have been too big for any player to fill till date. Not surprisingly, Goran Stevanovic took over a Black Stars with a make-shift Left Back.
As far back as 2006, Black Stars coaches have experimented with this position. Emmanuel Pappoe, Habib Mohammed, Hans Adu-Sarpei, Harrison Afful and Nana Kusi Asare have all had a go.
More recently, Hans Adu-Sarpei; a versatile right-footed defender who has the ability to function in many defensive positions have had to manage the position. Hans gave Ghana his best; managing the role beautifully. But dear old age would not allow him to go any further – or so we are made to believe!
After one year (10 games) in charge of the Black Stars, Stevanovic is still looking for an answer to the question of who will solve this left back problem.
Four players have been tried in that position already. David Addy and Massahudu Alhassan are the natural left-footed left backs, while Lee Addy is a right-footed central defender and Daniel Opare, a right-footed player, has only recently learnt how to function in that department at club level.
In the wisdom of Stevanovic, Lee, Opare and Massahudu are the lead contenders for the vacancy Sarpei left. They will thus be on their way to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. But which of them has the golden key?Obviously, Lee Addy will not be a first choice player. He has hardly been; mostly due to his shaky performances in Ghana shirt. One cannot expect his abilities and fortunes to change overnight.
This leaves us with the other two energetic, potential-laden and pacy wing backs – Massahudu and Opare.
Being the senior of the two, Opare was piling up enough experience and good performances to be the automatic first choice player until he a certain Neymar asked big questions about Opare’s composure and defensive abilities.
”]Enter Massahudu, the inexperienced yet more composed of the two. Massahudu caught everyone’s attention with some exciting U-20 performance in 2011. He brought that confidence to the Black Stars and fit comfortably into the left back role. Opare has had to play second fiddle since.
Opare’s propagandists believe that the Standard Liege defender’s nightmarish time with the twinkle-footed Neymar should not be used to as the reason to write him off.
Opare himself feels confident enough to take the position (he seems to be losing) back. But anyone who has watched the more natural Massahudu play knows that Opare’s days at the left back position are numbered and should be thinking of battling Samuel Inkoom for the soon-be-vacant right back position.
The Nations cup will come with its own tricky wingers who must be stopped. There will be opportunity to attack from from wing back positions and many many many times, our substantive left/right backs will be required to recover from an attacking move. Which of these two talented youths will have the confidence to deal with these challenges?
Of course it is Stevanovic who is taking US$53,000 plus bonuses to make this call. If I had to decide, it will be choice between the poise of Massahudu and the experience of Opare. I will go for experience, hoping that that Opare learnt a lesson or two about serenity over the last 12 months.