Footy-ghana.com managing editor Christopher Opoku ran commentary on the Ghana v Guinea game for national television on Wednesday afternoon and he offers his opinionated view on the game that took place in Tamale, amongst other things.
Overall, this was a game where the score line flattered Ghana. As odd as this may sound, I felt that the Black Stars overall played below its capabilities, considering the quality of the players on display.
There is a cliché that the end justifies the means and in the end, Ghana won three points, but there were several aspects that need to be worked on.
Goalkeeping – Ghana still searching for a first choice option
For starters, I was amazed by Stephen Adam’s antics in the second half. I do not know whether he was trying to buy time or whether he was carrying an injury, but his conduct looked odd, to say the least.
He was also at fault for Guinea’s goal by coming out too quickly and for me, it was an opportunity missed to show that he could be Ghana’s long term option in goal.
He is no doubt a good goalkeeper, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Should Adam Kwarasey return for next month’s qualifiers, chances are that Adams could be displaced.
The defensive Golden Fleece – grabbing the elusive clean sheet
Defensively the malaise at the back doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Individually Ghana has talented defenders, but as a unit, the required solidity, which should act as a foundation for success, is still some way off.
Jonathan Mensah needs to step up and be the authoritative voice at the back; organizing his team-mates. The marking was slack for Guinea’s goal and that means that competitively, Ghana has not had a clean sheet since thrashing Sudan 4-0 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier in March 2013.
That is an area that still needs work and leadership at the back is required.
It was good to see Harrison Afful return to his old self with a much-improved performance. He worked very well with Solomon Asante in front of him and defended well too.
Perhaps Baba Rahman is the long-term solution to one of Ghana’s problem positions; at left back. The Augsburg defender had a great game and his run and assist for the third goal was good to see. He is not the finished article yet, but more games should see him improve even further.
The curious case of Kwadwo Asamoah – Dr Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
Maxwell Konadu clearly recognized that Kwadwo Asamoah is not living up to his full potential and so from time to time, Andre Ayew had to move into the middle to make things happen.
There were flashes of brilliance from the Juventus midfielder, such as when his long pass to Asamoah Gyan resulted in the penalty, but on his 70th cap for Ghana, Kwadwo Asamoah should have done better.
It is unclear whether he is suffering from a crisis of confidence, but as probably Ghana’s most technically gifted player, he should be doing more and now that he is being deployed in his favoured position, I still think he has to improve or risk being left out of the starting eleven.
Other midfield observations
Rabiu Mohammed justified the decision to start him and his presence helped improve Ghana defensively when the Guineans were threatening to overrun the Black Stars.
Solomon Asante vindicated Konadu’s decision to start him and helped set up the opener. His skills troubled the Guinean defence time and again but getting elevation for his crosses still remains his Achilles heel. If he works on that, that will give Ghana a lethal weapon down the right.
Andre Ayew had a much-improved game and worked extremely hard to make things happen. He showed coolness in converting the penalty and generally put in a good shift.
The Jordan-Gyan partnership – promising and potentially good
Jordan Ayew is gradually maturing into a good player and he was unselfish in setting up Gyan for the opener. He is not the finished article and can be a hot head at times, but he has the potential to improve.
Two assists in two consecutive games is good and there are signs that this partnership with Gyan would get better and better over time
Three goals in three games shows consistency and there is no doubt that Asamoah Gyan is one of the world’s foremost strikers. 45 goals in 86 games for Ghana is a more than decent record and his recent performances show why more is required from midfield to fully exploit his abilities.
Debate over validity of first goal and penalty decision
In terms of the goals scored, my view is that Guinea defender Fode Camara played Ghana onside for the first goal. The incident that led to the penalty was 50-50.
I will fully understand those who might think it wasn’t a penalty, because some referees would not have given it, but in the same breath, other referees would have done so.
Should Konadu stay or not?
I thought Konadu had it right in bringing on Agyemang Badu, even if I thought Kwadwo Asamoah should have been replaced instead of Andre Ayew.
There was evidence of tactical flexibility, but I feel that Konadu would probably have to give a few players some kicks up the backside to see improved performances.
Personally I would want him to stay until after the African Nations Cup tournament but that is simply not going to happen.
I think he has not done badly at all and deserves the chance to continue, but that decision lies in the hands of the Ghana Football Association.
Fans in Tamale
The fans in Tamale deserve commendation for comportment and enthusiasm in supporting the Black Stars. It is not surprising that Ghana’s next home game will also take place in Tamale.
I was touched with the way they welcomed people like us who are based in Accra and it was an opportunity to make new friends.
For a city that loves football, next month should see another carnical atmosphere in the Northern regional capital
All in all, it was a good victory for Ghana, but in truth, lots of work is needed in goal, in defence and in midfield.
So having given my own personal observations from being present in Tamale, these are my ratings for the players.
- Stephen Adams (5/10)
Harrison Afful (7/10)
Jonathan Mensah (6/10)
Awal Mohammed (5.5/10)
Baba Rahman (7.5/10)
Rabiu Mohammed (6.5/10)
7.Kwadwo Asamoah (6/10)
Solomon Asante (7/10)
Jordan Ayew (6.5/10)
Andre Ayew (7/10)
Asamoah Gyan (7.5/10)
Edwin Gyimah (5/10)
Mubarak Wakaso (6/10)
Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (6.5/10)