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Sports Features of Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Source: Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Ghana vs Guinea: 5 Major Talking points

There are some days when relief resembles euphoria and euphoria, relief. Last Wednesday, October 15, 2014 was one of such. On that day, in the northern city of Tamale, the fans, players and officials of the Black Stars rose instantaneously from their seats at the final whistle; some punched the air, others looked up to the heavens. The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Ghana’s Black Stars and Guinea’s Syli Nationale had just ended 3:1 in Ghana’s favour at the Tamale stadium. The score line flattered the Black Stars and didn’t reflect the closely fought game that the match up was. Again, what the score line doesn’t tell you, are a number of observations, which have since formed major talking points after the game.

Adams, Like seriously?

In all my football watching life, I have not seen a goalkeeper put up the spectacle that Steven Adams did versus the Guineans. 20 minutes to full time, the Aduana Stars keeper strangely resorted to time wasting by unnecessarily holding and lurching over the ball, ostensibly to run the clock down. It was not only annoying, it was unnecessary as it broke the rhythm of the game. What was even more surprising was that, he didn’t seem to have been reproached by the technical team and continued his antics for the remainder of the game. What Adams should have concentrated on was commanding his backline, distribution, initiating attacks and crucially his timing on crosses and stepping off his line. His performance only magnified what has become a self-created goalkeeping problem and the earlier experienced and active goalkeepers like Adam Kwarasey is given the chance, to build his confidence and grow in the role, the better. Steven Adams, please, next time you get the chance, get serious!

Baba is looking the part

The questions have been pouring in. Why was Baba Abdul Rahman not taken to the 2014 World Cup? Well, those questions are legitimate considering Baba’s output in the last three games he has featured. But really, it was this game that he imposed himself. Baba has seamlessly slotted into the left back role and while he is not yet solid, defensively, his offensive game has been admirable. Combining speed and technique, Baba’s drives upfront have contributed to a couple of goals and in this particular game, his surge from deep into the Guinean box and lay off for Emmanuel Agyemang- Badu to score in the 95th minute, capped a fine evening. His only visible weakness, was getting caught out of position, when he surged forward to the detriment of his defensive duties. If he can work on his focus, he might just pitch tent at left back and make that spot his own. Good looking Baba!

Badu makes a statement Way back in 2008, a certain Emmanuel Agyemang Badu featured for the Black Stars in a friendly against Australia. Yes, I bet you didn’t know that, wait, I am not done; he played as a striker in that game! Oh yes, that is how Badu came to prominence at Berekum Arsenals. Why am I going back into time? Well it’s pretty simple. For a so called defensive midfielder who has scored 7 goals for Ghana from deep, Badu, who scored in this game versus Guinea, has continually shown that he has an eye for goal and playing him in that role or at least a second striker’s role wouldn’t totally disorient him. That is worth a shot; it will bode well for the team and save everybody the perpetual headache of Badu abandoning his primary duty for offense. It’s a win-win I think, or?

King Solomon’s way

Show me any championship winning side without a ball juggler, one who shows inventiveness, guile and trickery to open up defenses and I will show you a backwater team. Any serious football side needs that kind of player, blessed with qualities to create something out of nothing. In as much as his selection raised eye brows, Solomom Asante, who has been a regular feature for DR Congo side, TP Mazembe this season, showed good feet. His build up to Asamoah Gyan’s opener, where he wove through the Guinean backline, reminded everyone of what the Black Stars have been missing. There are others like him; Oti Essigba and Clifford Aboagye who have shown similar qualities and should be integrated into the Black Stars. It’s the wise way to go, its Solomon’s way.

Konadu, could not do

Ghanaians are still romanticizing with the “appoint one of our own campaign” and as expected Maxwel Konadu, then assistant to “fired” Kwesi Appiah has enjoyed some sort of support. In what was largely seen as an audition for the substantive job, Konadu in his stop gap capacity hasn’t convinced. While I will give him credit for making a couple of good calls in the last game versus the Guineans, the general lack of pattern and organized team defending, correct use of set pieces and ability to control the players (Adams’ time wasting issue for instance) has left question marks over his appointment for the long term.

The questions remain, but for the Black Stars, Tamale was a huge relief, not only by way of the three points collected, but also the return of a semblance of goodwill shown by the massive support from Tamale fans. So, whether it was relief or genuine euphoria, it’s just one of those days, when winning is all that matters; just one of those days. Follow me on twitter @niithesoccerguy