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Sports Features of Thursday, 19 June 2014

Source: e.k. kissi

Black Stars need Kwadwo Asamoah in the midfield

Creative and offensive midfield player, Kwadwo Asamoah is the answer to Black Star’s lack of creativity in the middle of the park. Kwadwo Asamoah is the most talented player Ghana has since the days of Abedi Ayew Pele and he has immense football Intelligence Quotient (IQ). He can orchestrate in the midfield to help Ghana emerge out of this difficult World Cup group by playing in his desired offensive midfield position.

The reasons Ghana Black Stars lost to United States are mental laxity on the part of the players within the first minute and lack of height among the Ghanaian players to defend aerial balls. Nevertheless, the Black Stars had the entire 90 minutes to win the match, but couldn’t breakdown the disciplined and resolute United States defense.

More importantly, there is lack of creativity in the Ghana midfield to ensure smooth transition from defense to midfield and supply of goal scoring passes to Striker, Asamoah Gyan. Asamoah Gyan in most scenarios is left with three defenders around him when he receives the ball.

You need a player like Kwadwo Asamoah who can take on these defenders with his incredible dribbling ability to set up Asamoah Gyan for goal scoring opportunities. The long balls sent to Asamoah Gyan by Sulley Muntari are not going to do the trick.

Kwadwo Asamoah’s development as a potential superstar in the global game is being hindered by deploying him on defense. This is disturbing and unfortunate!! He is Ghana’s version of Messi, Xavi, and Andreas Pirlo. His club team Juventus, F.C. plays him as a wingback because the team has Andrea Pirlo. The fact that Juventus, F.C. started using him as a wingback does not mean Ghana Coach Kwasi Appiah should replicate that.

Also, Coach Appiah should do a better job scouting next time. There are several players who have the skills set to play the left back position for Ghana to free Kwadwo Asamoah for the offensive midfield position. Players like: Masahudu Alhassan, Baba Rahman, Gideon Baah and Jeffrey Schlupp are all great in the left-back position.

Also players like Masahudu Alhassan and Jeffrey Schlupp could have provided the height and size Ghana desperately needs on defense to provide coverage for aerial balls. Look at how United States punished the Black Stars for lack of height!! The Germans and the Portuguese could exploit the height weakness again with aerial balls.

According to FIFA team statistics, Ghana is the shortest team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It appears that the Black Stars technical team has a selection bias against players with height and size who could help Ghana aerially.

The technical team has to realize that the game is played on the ground and in the air. Players like Opare, Afful and Inkoom cannot go up to defend aerial balls with the 6ft 4” (1.93m) Germans and the Portuguese. Look at how John Boye, 6ft 1” (1.85m) in height was exposed by the 6ft 4” (1.93m) in height John Brooks of United States. It was a mismatch exploited strategically by United States Coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Players like 6ft 3” (1.90m) Awal Mohammed should have been selected to replace the injured Jerry Akaminko. Knowing group G opponents, Coach Appiah should have strategized to protect his team aerially by selecting a player like Awal Mohammed to cover for aerial balls.

Even at the goalkeeper position, the 6ft 3” (1.90m) Razak Brimah should be part of the team, instead of the 5ft 11” (1.80m) Fatau Dauda. Most goal keepers at the International level are over 6ft. That is the benchmark!!

During the game against United States, Ghana dominated play, but Coach Jurgen Klinsmann did is homework by watching tapes of recent games Ghana lost and how the Black Stars lost them. The pattern was evident. Zambia defeated Ghana in Lusaka by scoring within the first 10 minutes of the game. Both Montenegro and Holland also scored within the first 10 minutes of the game. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann strategized to follow that pattern and planned to score on Ghana quickly due to information that Ghana players have mental laxity at the beginning of games.

He also exploited the know fact that Ghana is the shortest team in the tournament and United States used its height advantage to perfection. Coach Appiah should have corrected these weaknesses before the tournament, but failed to do so and his team was punished to put the Black Stars in a precarious position within such a tough World Cup Group.

The other clear weakness on the team set up is the creative midfield position. Ghana does not have a creative midfielder like Andrea Pirlo for Kwadwo Asamoah to play on defense. We all witnessed what Clifford Aboagye meant for the Ghana U-20 National team during the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

Clifford Aboagye’s creative midfield play helped Ghana U-20 striker, Ebenezer Assifuah emerged as the top striker for the U-20 Youth World Cup tournament. Why can’t Coach Appiah allow Kwadwo Asamoah to do the same thing for Asamoah Gyan?

The two tournaments Kwadwo Asamoah played the creative midfield position are Angola African Cup 2010, and 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Ghana went to the finals, and the quarter-finals of both tournaments, respectively. At the end of the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola, midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was named the CAF’s most promising African Player of the tournament.

Kwadwo Asamoah himself has voiced that the creative and the offensive midfield position is where he can help the Black Stars the most. Why limit his potential contribution to the team by playing him on defense?

European clubs do not build their teams around creative African players. This is precisely why Derek Boateng, a very promising creative player in his youth, was converted to a defensive midfielder in Europe. The same thing has happened to John Obi Mikel. Nowadays, African teams seriously lack creative players like Abedi Pele and Jay Jay Okocha. The European teams generally get their creative midfielders from South America.

Creative midfield player, Kwadwo Asamoah is the answer to Ghana’s lack of creativity in the middle of the park. Kwadwo Asamoah is the most talented player Ghana has and he has immense football IQ. It is disturbing to see such a player deployed as a defender.

This is a defeatist attitude on the part of Ghana’s technical team which must end immediately. Black Stars need Kwadwo Asamoah to be the midfield general orchestrating to create opportunities for Asamoah Gyan.

P.S: The recommended strategy is to play Afriyie Acquah and Mohammed Rabui behind Kwadwo Asamoah and give Kwadwo Asamoah the freedom to orchestrate and supply passes to Kevin Boateng, Dede Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. That will be a winning combination for Ghana.

Probable line-up: Adam Kwarasey, Harrison Afful, Daniel Opare, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Afriyie Acquah, Mohammed Rabui, Kwadwo Asamoah, Dede Ayew, Asamoah Gyan, Kevin Boateng.

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