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Sports Features of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Ghana vs Canada: How the Black Stars performed

I rubbed my eyes for the umpteenth time. Why at all did they have to go play this game in the US eh? I protested silently in my head which was beginning to feel heavy at 23 hours. My sleepless nights were eventually catching up with me. At 23.30 however, my eyes remained faithful, as I stayed up to catch Ghana’s Black Stars engage their Canadian counterparts in a friendly at the RFK Stadium in the USA. The game had a strange look about it, with most of Ghana’s regulars missing; no Gyan, no Dede, no Baba, no Jonathan, no Amartey, no Atsu! So why was I staying up to watch “Bra” Emma (Emmanuel Agyemang Badu) captain this makeshift team against Cnanada? Well, I figured the absence of the regulars afforded the chance to assess fringe players, especially debutants like Phil Ofosu-Ayeh and Lloyd Sam amongst others.

After an almost two hour vigil, here is my verdict on the Black Stars output in Washington DC.

Razaq Braimah
When a goalie is beaten by a 40 yarder, it can be pretty annoying and may undermine a good shift, well almost. Razaq was decent on the night and actually made three point blank saves and wasn’t troubled except the goal. He was beaten by similar long drives at the Nations cup earlier in the year and clearly he needs to work on his focus and positioning when the ball isn’t in his area.

Harrison Afful
Well, what’s there to say about Harrison, he looked the only bright spot when the team played in patches especially in the first half. He played with the swagger that we have known him to do lately but also perhaps got too excited when he tendered to drift into the middle a number of times. He made way for Phil Ofosu-Ayeh midway in the second half.

Jeffrey Schlupp
He kept things simple at left back but his runs upfront were quite swift and incisive and if his mates were on the same wavelength, his end product were have been more useful.

John Boye
During the game one tweet caught my eye “John Boye almost did a John Boye”. That was a tweet alluding to John Boye scoring an own goal versus Portugal at last year’s World Cup. He almost scored another with a clumsy tackle. That was the only downside to his game on a night where he looked fairly comfortable.

Edwin Gyimah
The Orlando Pirates defender played for the first time with this back four and the chemistry or lack of it was apparent, something you cannot hit him too hard for, but you cannot bank on him keeping the shirt either when Daniel Amartey and Jonathan Mensah return.

Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu
The captain on the day had a game of two halves. He looked a little laboured in the first half, perhaps the weight of band a tad too heavy on his arm. In the second half however his mobility improved and he goaded his mates on as the Black Stars looked for the winner.

Mubarak Wakaso
There are players who are buoyed up by the level of opposition, Wakaso on this night took the game a bit casual save a couple of occasions when his strong tackling and wild shots reminded everybody (including the birds) of his presence.

Bernard Mensah
If Wakaso took this match in his stride, Mensah took it with his heart and sleeves. It reminded me of my school days when you are so eager to impress, you say “I mean the match”. On the night, Mensah “meant” the match too much and couldn’t maintain his composure to shine. The talent is there and he would come good another day.

David Accam
If my mind isn’t playing “Peeloloo” with me, this was Accam’s first 90 minutes. Just like Mensah he was eager to impress and though he worked the left wing diligently, a calmer head was needed in the final third.

Albert Adomah
During the game I tweeted “Football has a sense of humour, just when the knives pointed at Adomah, he became unlikely saviour with equalizer! That was the highlight of Adomah’s night which would otherwise have been pedestrian. The goal was a relief and his dance routine spoke volumes. He made way for Lloyd Sam midway in the second half.

Jordan Ayew
Jordan had a quiet game, especially in the first half, due to lack of service as the Black Stars struggled collectively as a unit. He seemed to grow in the second half but had to make way for Kwadwo Poku.

Abdul Majeed Waris
Just over a year ago, Waris’ injury troubles started on American soil, so it was good to see the Lorient player as he made a substitute appearance. He was so eager to score and he actually put himself in a number of scoring positions, the closest, at the dearth of the game, but he failed to connect Phil Ofosu-Ayeh’s cut back.

Phil Ofosu-Ayeh
The player from Eintracht Braunschweig, Germany, showed loads of enthusiasm and while a lot could not be seen of his defensive game, he showed a lot of enterprise going forward. If this was a first date, I would easily agree to a second.

Sam Lloyd
Okay, so if this friendly didn’t achieve anything at all, it showed us that Ghana has a viable option at right wing in New York Red Bulls’ Lloyd Ekow Sam. Lloyd’s trickery, pace and supply troubled the Canadian defense for the 25 odd minutes he was on the field. I expect to see him again in the Black Stars shirt.

Afriyie Acquah
Afriyie didn’t get enough minutes but his presence seemed to free Badu who moved better and enabled the Black Stars pile late pressure on the Canadians.

Kwadwo Poku
If ever a player looked elegant on the ball, Kwadwo looked the part in the few minutes on the field. He moved the ball quickly and directly at Canada’s defense and added zest to Ghana’s attack. It was a good run out for the New York FC star. Definitely deserves another look in.

Nii Ayitey Tetteh
Follow on twiiter @niithesoccerguy