By Owusu Ansah Doe
The local Black Stars have claimed four points from a possible six thus far at the ongoing CHAN tournament in South Africa.
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Ghana's first game saw them defeat Congo by a lone goal and settle for a 1-1 draw with Libya in the next.
Though in pole position to qualify from Group C, given the outcomes of the group's other games, the team is yet to convince Ghanaians of any genuine title ambitions it may have.
Ghana hosted and won the Wafu Cup two months ago with a chunk of this squad but failed to do so in style, and the less impressed among Ghanaian football enthusiasts have raised doubts over Maxwell Konadu's tactics thus far at the CHAN.
A solid and commendable display in defence and midfield did help Ghana win by a slender margin against the Congolese. However, this display dropped to shambolic and
abysmal levels in the stalemate with Libya. In the latter instance, the defence and midfield were often caught asleep and found porous, too.
But for Libya's non-efficacious forwards, in fact, Ghana might have ended the game with less. Ghana's deficiency on the day could be attributed to two factors: zero creativity available to link the midfield to the men upfront, and virtually no ruthless box-to-box midfielder to protect the defence.
Coach Konadu must reckon modern-day football cannot be played without the presence of two less-credited playing roles on the field: that of the holding midfielder and the schemer/ball-juggler.
Though Ghana lacked a true creative force in the first match against Congo, Jackson Owusu did some solid shielding for the backline with little or no credit from the fans, simply because players of his ilk hardly give assists or score to grab the headlines.
However, without the services of footballers of Jackson's make in games, the midfield tends to be swamped with loopholes and the backline becomes less watertight and considerably exposed, as happened in the second game against Libya in the Berekum Chelsea star's absence.
Moreover, such 'key' players tend to be the pivot on which a team operates. Konadu must therefore play Owusu, or alternatively a more ruthless holding midfielder who can break attacks from the opposition and sweep the defence when the call arises.
Asante Kotoko pair Michael Akuffo and Jordan Opoku are unable to provide the steel needed in the middle of the pitch when played together as was seen against Libya, doubtlessly good as they both are on the ball.
Also observed was the appalling dearth of creativity in midfield which has seen our strikers starved of the required feed to score goals. Instead they have had to drop
deep to win balls to initiate attacks, and it is the energy expended in doing so which has rendered Yahaya Mohammed, for one, quite lackadaisical in front of goal.
And while the talismanic Winful Cobbinah of Accra Hearts of Oak who could certainly have fit the bill was dropped ahead of the tournament, a certain Asiedu Attobrah is equally as good. The Edubiase forward's nimble-footedness could create spaces for Ghana's attackers to do proper positioning when it matters most, if given the chance.
As with most teams in the world, schemers are needed to calm nerves when under pressure, with their dazzling footwork serving to frustrate and decrease the momentum of opponents. Clearly, few, if any at all, will thrive without employing players with the abilities described extensively above.
Indeed if Konadu wants to go far at this CHAN, he ought to make Owusu and Attobrah the core of his team to unleash some flair and strength in midfield for Ghana.