Sports Features of Saturday, 7 September 2013
01. Fatau Dauda: 6/10: I cannot decide whether he was rusty, jittery or both. He flapped on a couple air balls and spilled a long rate short early on. He however got into the game, distributed the ball and commanded his area well as the game went on . He was blocked by John Mensah on the corner kick which led to the goal. His few minutes of time wasting at the end killed off the game.
02. Daniel Opare: 6.5/10: Opare is our RB for now. However I still struggle with his over-elaboration in the back. Against a better team he could have been exposed a couple times, when he spent too much time on the ball. His offensive output is great though and he consistently joined in attack. This included a beautiful ball into space that Dede hesitated on. Could have led to a shot on goal. He also got a lot of help from Dede when needed. I would encourage him to keep it simple in the back as much as possible.
03. Harrison Afful: 6/10: Faced the brunt of the Zambian attack and showed some weaknesses in his positional awareness on a couple occasions. In one of those instances, his recovery led to a sliding tackle in the box, which led to a corner and the Zambian goal. Also, he does not seem to maintain the line with his other defensemen. There were a couple times I saw the three players to his right holding the line, while he fell back, almost putting the Zambian forward through on goal, instead of offside. He is a hard tackler for his size, but he has to marshal his area better and understand his spatial responsibilities.
04. Iron Boye: 8.5/10: My Man of the Match. Started off with a beautiful assist for a Center Back and then continued his stellar play with numerous offense stifling tackles and headers. His distribution from the back was also a delight to watch and he put in extra time on occasion on the left side helping out when Afful was caught out of position.
05. Jonathan Mensah: 7/10: Marshaled the defense well with Iron Boye. He was not extra ordinary, but kept things tidy. I think the playing time at club level has been doing him a good deal of good. He is going to be our CB at least through till the end of our qualification games, so his quality will be needed in the October and November two-step.
06. Rabiu Mohammed: 5/10: This was one of Rabiu’s worst games as a Black Star. He typically never puts a foot wrong and I rarely have a bad word to say about him, since he broke into the team. However today was a day he would love to forget. He was jittery, over elaborated and got run over by the Zambians after the 20 minute mark. He wasn’t helped by his Defensive Midfield partner K. Asamoah who pulled a no-show for chunks of the first and second half. Rightfully subbed off for an aging, but extremely effective Michael Essien.
07. Kwadwo Asamoah: 7/10: The el Mago conundrum continues. He was our best player by a mile the first 20 minutes. He was slick, fast and fired up for all of 20 minutes. Then he suddenly vanished. He was MIA for the rest of the first half and beginning of the second half. Then to prove his naysayers wrong, he popped up at the top of the center circle, dragged the ball to his favorite left foot and let go of a long range missile that had the Copper Bullets questioning their own ammunition. He is still our most talented player and I keep scratching my head about his assertiveness; or lack there of.
08. Mubarak Wakaso: 7/10: His substitution was inexplicable. It had to be an injury because he was playing a hell of a game before Coach Mayele dragged him off early in the second half. He has an eye for the open man, is direct with his offensive output and has speed for days. He let go of a snap shot that drew a great save out of Mwene. His crosses were always a threat and he never seemed out of control/rash … as is usually the case. Very baffled by his substitution.
09. Andrew Ayew: 7.5/10: Dede announced his return to the team with a Dede-like performance. 90 minutes of hard running, hard tackling, and sometimes un-productive possession. Our Right Wing has had a hole for a while though and in general, I think he has made a good case to stick him out there. Five years on and he still hasn’t enhanced the one hole in his game - the ability to release the timely pass to the open teammate. This would take him from a great squad player to a great player period. His defense and intangibles though were immediately evident and showed why he has been missed from the national team.
10. Majid Warris: 7/10: Warris is slowly cemented himself as a lethal marksman for the national team. He has a unique knack of drifting into open spaces. In one such instance, he was on hand to head in the first goal. He was a constant thorn in the side of the Zambians and his pace was very evident. He benefited greatly from the Zambian’s unceasing focus on Asamoah Gyan. I don’t believe he is ready yet to be a lone man up top due to his size and hold up play, but as a clinical finisher, he is probably the best we have in the team now.
11. Asamoah Gyan: 6.5/10: I would ideally have given Gyan a lower rating. He was heavy, his first touch was sometimes poor and he missed a good chance from a beautiful Opare cross. However the Zambians had two men on him all game; one in front and one behind. He accepted the increased scrutiny and drifted into positions to allow Majid to shine. He has embraced the captain’s role and I am happy for his contribution on the day.