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Paintsil defends Rahman Baba amidst supporter abuse after Portugal error

8:23 PM SGT 26/11/22
Abdul Rahman Baba of Ghana, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo
Ex-Ghana full-back John Paintsil has paid tribute to Abdul Rahman Baba despite the latter’s costly World Cup error.

Ex-Ghana right-back John Paintsil has praised under-fire Black Stars left-back Abdul Rahman Baba for his performance against Portugal in the West Africans’ World Cup opener, even if a critical error by the defender proved costly.

Baba was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up ahead of Gideon Mensah, and was at fault in the 78th minute when he clumsily failed to cut out a through-ball, allowing Joao Felix in to put the Portuguese 2-1 ahead.

However, Paintsil insists the left-sider deserves credit for his overall performance.

“It was a difficult moment,” Paintsil told GOAL, “but at the end of the day, he did really well – he even assisted the second goal for Ghana, and his work rate was very, very positive.

“The slide ball was very tight, the player was on the run, [Baba] was focusing on the man running at the same time looking at where the ball was coming from.

“In football, mistakes can come, but when players are down, we lift them up.”

Baba became one of the targets of Ghana supporters after the match, with fans tearing into the Reading loanee and questioning why head coach Otto Addo hadn’t turned to Mensah instead.

For Paintsil, it’s imperative that the squad rally around Baba as Ghana look to face up to the challenges ahead, in the same way that the 2006 generation supported experienced centre-back Samuel Kuffour, who made a high-profile in the ’06 World Cup opening defeat by Italy.

“When you’re playing a tournament, you go as a team,” he continued. “When one is down, everyone is down.

“We keep encouraging ourselves, and of course, mistakes are part of the game. Players don’t go onto the field to make mistakes just like that, everyone goes onto the field to do well—especially at the World Cup.

“It’s every player’s dream to have it, to play, to participate,” he concluded. “No one goes there to think of making mistakes, in football, mistakes can come, but when our players are down, we lift them up.”

Ghana, who sit bottom of Group H after the opening match, can reignite their World Cup campaign when they face South Korea at Education City Stadium on Monday.