By Theophilis Takyi
The Black Satellites’ 3-1 loss to the French was an odd one. They competed well in the first half, but in the second period they lost complete control of the match.
One of the glaring problems with the way coach Sellas Tetteh set up his side was the 3 vs. 2 battle in midfield. With Moses Odjer and Alfred Duncan in the middle against three opposition midfielders, Francis Narh and Ebenezer Assifuah played the majority of the game right up next to each other with neither even dropping back into midfield to at least pressure the deepest French midfielder. This led to France dictating the second half.
One other problem, shown by the first goal conceded was the lack of height in the Ghanaian box. Because Ghana had such little possession, it led to a barrage of crosses for the centre backs to deal with which made the very strange omission of Daniel Pappoe look extremely odd indeed if Tetteh intentionally chose to play on the counter because of pressure in the box.
The third problem was in the final third. Assifuah and Narh’s movement as a pairing simply is not varied enough to justify playing them in a pure 4-4-2. Neither is particularly adept at holding the ball up to wait for runners on the counter so the breaks Ghana had often came to nothing.
With the right tactical decisions Ghana had enough to at least draw the game. Duncan is a good holding midfielder with a decent passing range and Odjer a ball carrier who can beat the opposition dress with a dribble. A third midfielder such as Michael Anaba would have allowed Ghana to at least compete in the middle of the park and create some chances and make use of the talents of Odjer and Duncan.
Frank Acheampong, instead of running back to his own half all the time could have spent more time in the final third trying to make something happen. Boakye is an adept lone forward as he has the physique to occupy both centre backs as well as being an adept finisher.
After this defeat it is hard to see Ghana not going home early, the game against the US is certainly winnable but the prior game against Spain will be an uphill task, with his poor tactical performance against the French who did not seem to be very cohesive themselves in the first game of the group.
It is tough to envisage Tetteh having an effective game plan in hand against the Spaniards. His tactics are almost identical to his championship winning team four years ago although Agyemang Badu and Mohamed Rabiu, both defensive midfielders had the energy to cope with numerical disadvantage in the middle as well as a creative Andre Ayew would come off the left touchline to create chances and a front two with a good understanding.
Now he seems to have a more creative midfield and a better lone forward (who he’s decided to place on the bench) but he has not attempted to modernise his tactics. This seems to be a problem at all levels in Ghana and an effort needs to be made to change this.
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