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Ghana 1-0 Kenya: What did we learn?

8:59 AM GMT+4 25/03/2019
Ghana v Kenya
What lessons could be drawn from the Harambee Stars’ final Group F Afcon qualifier against the Black Stars in Accra?

Harambee Stars suffered a 1-0 defeat to Ghana in the final African Cup of Nations qualifying clash played in Accra on Saturday.

Ghana took their revenge through debutant Caleb Ekuban, who scored the only goal of the meeting in the 83rd minute to help the hosts finish on top of Group F with nine points. Kenya won the first leg 1-0.

Goal highlights some of the lessons we learned from the clash.

  • Musa Mohammed of Kenya v Malawi.

    Stars have improved defensively

    Sebastien Migne’s charges have improved in terms of defending. The team was coming up against some of the lethal attackers in the continent namely - Christian Atsu, Emmanuel Boateng, and Andre Ayew.

    The backline gave Boateng a tough time and coach Kwesi Appiah was forced to replace him with Caleb Ekuban.

    Atsu and Ayew had several breaks on the flanks but their deliveries could not trouble Musa Mohammed and Joash Onyango who seemed to be settled in the central defense.

    Ghana dominated possession, pushed the game to Harambee Stars, created 13 attempts but could not score until a goalkeeping blunder from Patrick Matasi. The defense, however, allowed the Black Stars to play the ball behind the backline and this should be avoided going forward.

  • Harambee Stars and Posta Rangers keeper Patrick Matasi.

    Matasi should avoid school-boy mistakes

    Matasi started the clash well made a couple of saves. He also helped cool off pressure from Ghana.

    The keeper’s strong point is the distribution of the ball and he is among the few custodians who can feed the strikers, directly from his end.​

    He made a good delivery to Masoud Juma in the 46th minute, a chance that would have changed the game completely, but the forward failed to drive the shot home.

    However, he spilled the ball under pressure and allowed Ayew to find the back of the net but the goal was ruled out. He (Matasi) came off the line on several occasions but failed to clear the aerial balls from the danger zone.

    His worst blunder came in the 83rd minute when he allowed Ekuban’s shot slip through his hands. Should he have done better with the weak shot from Ekuban, then Stars would have left the venue with a point.

  • Kenya and Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama.

    Wanyama did not rise to the occasion

    Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama has endured a tough season in Europe, managing to play for only 274 minutes in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt.

    The midfielder seemed to play cautiously against the Black Stars and did not perform to the level of a beast he is known to be.  He did not boss the midfield as many expected.

    Ghanaian midfielder Mubarak Wakaso was able to win a few duels and freely stringed passes to his teammates through the midfield.

    Several players in the team look up to Wanyama and he should be the one leading from the front and it is high time he gives his 100 percent because this will push his fellow teammates to work even harder.

  • Kenya and Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga v Ethiopia.

    Coach needs to work on forward play

    The defense did their job well, but the midfield failed when it came to the supply of balls upfront.

    With the kind of organization at the back, Kenya would have walked away with maximum points if the midfield was fast on transition and efficient up front. The team missed the services of lead striker Michael Olunga as the few created chances had no one to turn them into goals.

    Other than positioning himself in between the Black Stars' defenders - which is better, Masoud Juma did nothing meaningful. The introduction of Piston Mutamba made things even worse for the Kenyan side.

    If Olunga was available, maybe the Ghanaians should not have attacked in numbers as they did. Should the side improve on transition and work on turning the defense into attack, then they can cause upsets in Egypt.