With the international break coming to an end, Goal.com Ghana examines the lessons that could be learnt from Ghana’s win over Sudan in the World Cup qualifiers.
|THE KWADWO ASAMOAH DILEMMA STILL CONTINUES
When the teams lined up on Sunday, most were feeling a tinge of expectation with regards to Kwadwo Asamoah’s position. The midfielder, often criticised for not being at his best with the national team, was being played in his favourite position. Not too far forward, too far wide or too deep in defence, just right, deep in midfield with a good defensive midfielder as cover and with the space to initiate attacks as well as the freedom to join them when he saw fit and for some it should have been the game that finally ended all questions as to where best to play him, but it was not to be. Asamoah had a bad day and the timing of it will not help much.
The position in which he started the game against Sudan is undoubtedly the one best suited to his skill set, but with so much talent available in there, which is the main reason why he is been asked to play wide or in the hole for the national team so as to accommodate others. Asamoah may never get another chance like this to assert himself on the position which he probably coverts most. His performance was blighted by poor first touches and an unusual struggle to play the right pass. There was little difference between his performance in the first half and his performance in the second when moved further up the field and this is not good for his future in central midfield.
|WAKASO IS HERE TO STAY|
Mubarak Wakaso has been the talk of Ghanaians since his magnificent performances for the Black Stars at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, where he scored four times. For some, however, the fears were that he just had a great tournament and will struggle to replicate his performances after the tournament. For others he would struggle to get into the side when the likes of Sulley Muntari come back into the side. On Sunday, however, he dispelled all those notions. After managing to get into the side, the Espanyol midfielder went on to put in a virtuoso performance powered by skill, power, pace and determination. He created the opening goal with a magnificently weighted free kick into the path of Boye who headed across goal for Gyan to tap in. He then went on to score the second with a well taken half volley and went about his duties with great commitment and determination throughout the game. For many that doubted before the performance really said it all, Wakaso is here to stay.
|TWO IN FRONT SUITS GYAN BETTER|
Many have criticised Black Stars captain Asamoah Gyan for his failure to score enough goals (he’s scored 32 in 71 games for the national team) but this writer has always debated his place as a lone spearhead of Ghana’s attack. Gyan played some of his best football in Sunderland when he played up front with Bent and had the freedom to drop deep and play off the Englishman. In that role he managed to clock double figures for the Black Cats and put in some really impressive displays similar to what we saw on Sunday. With Majeed Waris providing that Bent-like figure that freed him, the Al Ain striker was all over the pitch dropping deep to create space and facilitating a seamless transition from midfield to attack and played a huge part in making Waris’ full debut one to remember, getting a goal as well to cap off a very impressive performance. His performance on Sunday was a far cry from the difficult days of spearheading the attack alone, similar to the early days of his second season at the Stadium of Light where he played up front. It is evident it is more prudent to play Gyan alongside another attacker more often as that seems bring out the best in him.
|RABIU HAS BECOME CRUCIAL TO THE TEAM’S DEFENSIVE PLAY|
Mohammed Rabiu is probably the man who boosted his reputation most on Sunday. Sitting just in front of the defence, Rabiu made it his duty to clean up every single mistake any of his team-mates made on the day. The holding midfielder was obviously missed when he did not play during the Africa Cup of Nations and proved exactly why as he significantly shored up the team’s defence covering up the excesses of Kwadwo Asamoah, John Boye’s petty mistakes as well as covering up for the forward runs of both full backs, one of such runs which resulted in the second goal, all with a sense of effortlessness that was quite impressive. Wakaso, Waris, Harrison Afful and co may have caught the eye but on Sunday, Rabiu made a very strong statement as to his importance to the team and could very well be set for a long spell protecting the back four for the Black Stars as he did for the Under-20 World Cup winning team of 2009.
|THE DAYS OF ‘BEAUTIFUL FOOTBALL’ ARE OVER|
The Black Stars were reportedly not ‘convincing’ in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year and despite getting to the semi-final of the tournament left a lot of fans unsatisfied. On Sunday the Stars looked to have reverted to the more popular ‘beautiful’ play that most expected but after going two goals up more of the pragmatism that has become the norm for them in recent times took over. Knowing the true abilities of the Sudanese, the four-time African champions were prepared to sit back and soak the pressure and hit on the counter and after scoring twice on the counter attack were content to just sit relax and knock the ball around in waiting for the final whistle. It signified a trend that has taken over the national team in recent times - the prioritisation of results over ‘performance’. The handlers of the national team are now more concerned with getting the results than any other thing and though they will like the football to be pleasing to the eye, they really do not mind ‘ugly’ wins anymore, a phenomenon which the average fan has not gotten accustomed to yet, but will have no option but to accept in coming years.