Posts Tagged ‘Ghana

09
Sep
12

2013 CAN Qualifying Series: Ghana 2-0 Malawi – Player Rating

Kwadwo Asamoah – had a good game

Ghana took a step closer to the 2013 African Nations Cup tournament by beating Malawi 2-0 at home. Ghana will now need to go to Malawi and hold them off to qualify to the tournament finals.

Here is how we rated each player over a 10-point scale.

A. Kwarasey [6] – He had a good day in the office and saved Ghana once.

D. Opare [5] – Struggled. His crosses were suspect.

J. Boye [7] – But for one brutal tackle, John was effective.

I. Vorsah [6] – Good defensive work.

H. Afful [5] – Struggled with his offensive role.

A.  Annan [8] – Scored to cap a good game.

K. Asamoah [5] – A very calm approach to the game. Could have been more offensive.

C. Atsu [9] – The return of playmakers to the Black Stars. Man of the Match without a doubt.

J. Ayew [4] – The youth was out of sorts. He probably came to sun-gaze!

A. Ayew [5] – Apart from an assist, he could have done much better.

A. Gyan [6] – The returnee played a good game and creating the first goal.

SUBS

D. Boateng [7] – He brought his experience to bear. Sorted out the weakening midfield. A game changer.

S. Asante [5] – Did not bring anything special to the game.

E. Clottey [NR] – spent too little time on the pitch for a proper assessment.

Christian Atsu – Man of the Match

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31
Aug
12

Letter to Charley EP03: This is why Black Stars Must Douse the Malawian Flames?

Black Stars – Have they lost their shine?

Charley,

One of my favourite aspects of football is the fruitless debates the herald, go on during and several days after games between rivals.

But nowadays, Charley, even minnows fill like they have a speaking chance against giants. Yes, Charley, you can blame it on David or Goaliath.

It looks like the Malawi and Ghanaian FA bosses want to settle the up-coming African Nations Qualification match in the media courts rather than on the pitch.

The rate at which they have been firing salvos at each other, Charley, we might as well settle the pending African Nations Cup qualifying matches by public debate.

First, it was Ghana’ ex FA boss who claimed that Ghana’s football history was far superior to Malawi. Then, Ghana FA president then adds insult to injury by rehashing how far behind the Black Stars the Flames of Malawi were in terms of pedigree.

The Malawians had to respond…and they did. This is what the Malawian FA boss, Mr. Charles Nyirenda, had to say Charley:

“We are preparing very well for this particular match because everybody knows the calibre of the Ghana team, but actually it is not as strong as we know previously.”

Elsewhere, he is quoted to have said:

“The Ghana team is not as strong as it used to be but you people can tickle yourselves”

According to the Malawians, Ghana’s air of immortality had been fouled by the successive defeats the Zambians handed the Black Stars.

They do have a point. Ghana can do better than their current performance. There seem to be a proverbial crack on the wall, Charley, so now every creepy animal feels it has legitimate right to enter the house.

Otherwise, where will Malawi get the guts to run their mouths ahead of their competence? Charley, the Blacks Stars must douse this Malawian flame. Their wings ought to be clipped to sized.

It is said that a blind man will not promise to stone you unless his feet are well placed on a stone. Coach James Akwasi Appiah should work to whisk this stone from under the Malawian feet with a resounding victory; the psychological effect of which will take centuries to overcome.

Charley, it appears that reminding the Malawians that they are nowhere near Ghana’s class is an exercise in futility.

The noisy Malawians must be made to learn why our elders say that a kid can pitch his strength against a grown man, but his ribs will not go unbroken.

A sound thrashing at home in Accra and away at their backyard in Lilongwe, Blantyre or on Mr. Charles Nyirenda’s lawn is the only antidote to all this talking, Charley!

 

IN GHANA, EVERYONE IS CALLED CHARLEY! SO IF YOU WANTTO SPEAK TO SOMEONE, YOU WRITE A LETTER TO CHARLEY!

28
Jan
12

CAN 2012 Files EP10: Time for Gyan to Outshine Himself

When Ghana came out of that nervous encounter with Botswana in their Group D opener, many things were said. My fancy got tickled by a statement attributed to Botswana national team defender Mompati Thuma.

The defender who was on assignment to chase Ghana’s lead striker, Asamoah Gyan, out of the penalty box did not have any respect for Ghana’s hottest Black Star. “Gyan’s an ordinary player like everyone else, it is just that he plays in Europe,” he told media men after the game.

The arrogance of a sore loser? Whatever you make of it, that is an ego-deflating statement to make, given the premadonna status Gyan has attained in recent years. If this statement was made in 2008 when Gyan had altercations with the general public because his performance fell below expectation, there will be no qualms.

Ghana's striker Asamoah Gyan tries to dribble past Botswana's midfielder Mompati Thuma and defender Ndiyapo Letsholathebe during an African Cup of Nations (CAN) football match againt Botswanan at the Stade de Franceville

But today, opinions will be sharply divided. Even those who so much dislike Gyan will ask Thuma how dare he try to poke a pin into this bubble we have collectively blown into Gyan’s ego over the last 4 or so years.

Through a careful blend of good teamwork, football skills, important goals, bigger club transfers, music and dancing, Gyan has warmed his way back into many of disappointed fans from that difficult 2008 Nations Cup period.

But Thuma’s famous statement makes one begin to ask if Gyan could do more for Ghana. There are many ways by which we can assess the striker, but let us focus on his core duty – scoring goals. Let us also limit our discussion to tournaments as the statement was made in this context.

If we take out the 2004 Summer Olympic games, Gyan has featured in 4 competitive senior tournaments for Ghana – World Cup 2006, CAN 2008, CAN 2010, World Cup 2010. In all 4 tournaments, he was either a lead striker or a second striker. More recently, he has been a lone striker.

The much-discussed striker has scored 8 goals in all these tournaments; averaging 2 goals per tournament compared to the 5 goals average of the goal kings of these four tournaments. This comes to only 28% of all 18 goals Ghana has scored in tournaments Gyan has featured in.

There are those who will claim that scoring from penalty kicks does not make a striker special. Of the 8 goals Gyan has scored, 4 were converted from the penalty spot.

If we discount the number of assists, influence and skill set which he often brings aboard the Black Stars ship, the evidence does not speak so highly of Gyan, does it? You cannot average 2 goals per tournament and expect to be respected by defenders.

But we can take the analyses even further. The trend suggests that Gyan is maturing into the deadly tournament striker we expect him to be. He scored 1 goal at World Cup 2006; 1 at CAN 2008; 3 at CAN 2010 and 3 at World Cup 2010.

Barring injuries, 5 or more goals at CAN 2012 will be enough to make Thuma and all others like him eat their bitter arrogant words.  But can Gyan deliver?

Gyan may not need to prove how good he is to anyone, especially some unknown Botswana man. He has himself claimed he does not need to score. But this Gyan hate needs some gargantuan response; not in with words, but goals. This is why it is time for Gyan to outshine himself at CAN 2012.

Yes he Gyan!

16
Jan
12

CAN 2012 Files EP06: The Drive Of A Fading Generation And The Resolve Of The Next

I am not sure if there will be enough horses to donate their placentas to mend all the hearts Goran Stevanovic could be breaking when the 2012 African Nations Cup kicks off.

After a rather uninspiring 1-1 drawn trial game with a South Africa, many have started tossing the idea of entering full panic mode in their minds.

More so when the South African looked more like a collection of male models displaying their country’s new kits than footballers.

Under normal circumstances, one should not be bothered about such low profile training games. Friendly games are to be taken for what they are – frieldlies! No need for panic.

Black Stars Captain John Mensah must win Ghana a trophy

But people’s fears cannot be more legitimate. After 30 years without trophies, things should have looked better going into the tournament. Let me indulge you with some of the obvious.

We have to cope with 3 strikers (others have up to 7). No one knows when Gyan can make a full recovery. Tagoe has obvious form, skill and motivational difficulties. Jordan’s potential is yet to materialise; and this is his first major tournament (Jordan).

If you think that was the tough, read on: We are saddled with two inexperienced left backs (Massahudu and Opare); a canter back who is banned a couple of games (Vorsah), another center back who breaks down after very game (John Mensah); yet another center back who has not played active football in God-knows-how-many-months (Jonathan Mensah).

The only attacking midfielder we have trusted over the period (Kwadwo Asamoah) is yet to step up the big stage. There are no natural wingers or ball jugglers. Still not panicking yet?

Various levels of panic have accompanied Ghanaian team to every tournament. If fans don’t find fault with the ability of the coach, they will find a player or two to build their fears around. Sometimes, with the collaboration of false media reports, fans find one or two imaginary camp conditions to use as excuse for panic.

When all the so-called favourites meet Ghana, something has to give

The famous ‘…our team is divided’; ‘…the boys are chasing girls instead of focusing’ etc will always show up as Ghana goes to another tournament with the same feelings of doubt.

Justified as some of these doubts may be, one of the many overlooked attributes of the current Black Stars is a certain hunger for silveware before the old generation passes.

Richard Kingson, the last remaining face of the 1990s generation, has already been retired. That generation played more passionately than any other after then yet won nothing.

In their peak, Generation 2000 gave Ghanaians many moments to cheer about. A silver medal at the World Youth Championship in 2001 heralded their advent. Memories of the exploits of the legendary midfield quartet – Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Richard Kingston and Sulley Ali Muntari – have now reach mythological proportions.

That debute world cup which brought joy to many households can not be forgotten either. But like their predecessors, Generation 2000 failed to win trophies; even on home soil in 2008.

Already, the faces of the 2000s are being replaced with potential-laded kids of Generation 2010s and beyond. Realistically, CAN 2012, CAN 2013 and World Cup 2014 represent the last three chances for the so-called ‘senior’ players to win a trophy. Since most of them are in the twilight of their careers, a safe bet cannot be placed on CAN 2013 and beyond.

This is why players like John Paintsil, John Mensah, Derek Boateng, Sulley Muntari and perhaps the mid 2000s crew of Anthony Annan, Prince Tagoe, Kwadwo Asamoah and Isaac Vorsah, co appear to be so driven. Hopefully, they will channel this drive into results.

Jordan Ayew - belongs to the new generation of hungry for success kids

The hope is that they will be ably supported by a golden generation of proven winners. Andre Ayew, Samuel Inkoom, Jonathan Mensah, Daniel Adjei, Daniel Opare, Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu who characterise the face of the 2010s have already brought home the World Youth Trophy and an ANC silver medal.

This is the seamless blend of driven maturity and hungry youth which should bring smiles to Ghanaian faces as the tournament kicks off this weekend.

Long Live Ghana! Go Black Stars!

03
Jan
12

CAN 2012 Files EP05: That Left Back Headache – Shall We Turn To Lee, Massahudu or Opare?

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.

Daniel Opare Neymar of Brazil is challenged by Daniel Opare of Ghana during the International friendly match between Brazil and Ghana at Craven Cottage on September 5, 2011 in London, England.
Daniel Opare [Pic: Zimbio]

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.

”]Massawudu Alhassan Ahmed Musa (R) of Nigeria battles with Massawudu Alhassan of Ghana during the International Friendly between Ghana and Nigeria at Vicarage Road on October 11, 2011 in Watford, England.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.

01
Jan
12

A Prospective Peek into Ghana Football in 2012

At the dawn of every New Year, it is common place for people to dream up what prospects await. With regards to football, the questions will be frequently posed: How will Ghana fare on the football map? Who will emerge winners in Ghana’s bitterest football rivalries?

African Cup of Nations

For us Africans, 2012 will start in a whirlwind fashion as 16 clubs battle for that African Holy Grail at the Orange CAF African Nations Cup to be hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea at the end of January 2012. Some 20 odd years ago, as a high school kid, I was devastated when Ivory Coast virtually stole what had been virtually destined to be Ghana’s fifth Nation’s Cup title.  

Posterity’s balancing act being what it is, captain of the 1992 squad, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, has two sons in the current squad. Vice captain of the 1992 squad, Kwasi Appiah, is the deputy head of the technical team. Edward Ansah, one of the goalkeepers in 1992, is now the goalkeepers coach. Destiny cannot be wicked to these fine gentlemen twice!

Despite Asamoah Gyan’s injury scare; the threat posed by the North Africans, Senegal and the noisy neighbour Ivory Coast notwithstanding, the Black Stars should be able bring home what was rightfully Ghana’s as far back as 20 years.

International Age-Category Tournaments

The future of Ghana football, Black Starlets (U-17), have been placed in the hands of two coaches who have spent the last 5 years struggling to keep their jobs, let alone build winsome teams – Paa Kwasi Fabin and Isaac Adade Boateng. I will gladly stuff my belly with some humble pies if the 2013 Black Starlets turn out to be anything close to the 1991, 1993 and 1995 generation.

The saying goes that: ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again’. Orlando Wellington will have another go with the Black Satellites (U-20). Hopefully, this time around, he will be firm enough to scout his own players and use them as he pleases. With such a huge pool of talent both at home and abroad, Wellington cannot fail the second time in a row.

Thanks to Coach David Duncan, The Black Meteors (U-23) will be out of the London Olympics. This is shameful to say the least.  

Women’s football

Two reasons make me have hope for women’s football this year. First, local women’s football competitions have been revamped. Much more talent will bud and get drafted into national teams. Secondly, the current crop of young girls representing Ghana at senior level are some of the most experienced female footballers around; having represented Ghana in several competitions around the world since they were 9 years.

Local football

There are 18 games and one more transfer window left to decide The Glo Premiership title. Although Kotoko are leading the table, their away form will be their ‘Achilles Tendon’. On the bases of their rear guard superiority and the possibility of grabbing goal machine Emmanuel Baffour, I see Hearts of Oak stealing the title at the very depth.

Champions Berekum Chelsea will not go down without a fight but, like Wa All Stars and Dwarfs, they will have to make do with Top 4 places. What of the battle to survive relegation? Wassaman Utd, Berekem Arsenals, Mighty Jets, AshantiGold and Bechem United will have to fight for survival. It seems Bechem and Wassaman are beyond salvation.

With the MTN FA Cup holders, Nania FC, disappointingly out of contention just in the first round, the floodgates are open for others to have the honour. Division I side Accra Great Olympics will fancy their chances, but I tip Berekum Chelsea to lift this cup with Asante Kotoko and Wa All Stars putting up a fierce challenge.

CAF Club Competitions

Berekum Chelsea have been busy buying any player with half-decent quality in the name of building a solid squad for the Champion’s League. Chelsea’s secret is a midfield which is unrivalled by Ghana standards. If Coach Van der Plume can work on their big game temperament, Chelsea will have a realistic chance of making it pass the group stages.

Legendary Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew’s Nania FC on the other hand does not have problems with the big stage. A decent showing in the CAF Confederation Cup can be expected from Abedi Pele’s side. Winning it will be a tall order.

30
Dec
11

CAN 2012 Files EP04: 2011 Performance Should Be A Confidence-Booster for Black Stars

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?

PRINCE 'OF GOALS' TAGOE: Hopefully he gets a better 2012

General Performance

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.

Defence

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.

Midfield

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.

PLAYER STARTS GOALS
Kwadwo Asamoah 9 0
Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu 8 3
Sulley Ali Muntari 8 1
Anthony Annan 6 0
Derek Boateng 3 0
Andre Ayew 3 0
Samuel Inkoom 2 1
Dominic Adiyiah 2 2
Prince Tagoe 2 2
Albert Adomah 1 0
Abu Mohammed 1 0
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie 1 0
Kevin-Prince Boateng 1 0
Opoku Agyemang 1 0
Bernard Yao-Kumordzi 1 0
Michael Essien 1 0

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.

Attack

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
Games played 4 6 10
Goals scored 10 8 18
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.

NAME POSITION GOALS
Asamoah Gyan ST 4
Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu C(D)M 3
Prince Tagoe ST/WING 2
Dominic Adiyiah ST/WING 2
Isaac Vorsah CD 1
Jonathan Mensah CD 1
John Mensah CD 1
Sulley Ali Muntari CM/WING 1
Samuel Inkoom RB/WING 1
Derek Asamoah WING 1

Conclusions

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.




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