Stars face Nigeria for CHAN slot
12/14/2008 12:12:18 AM -
MILOVAN FACES ANOTHER TEST Ahead of the Black Stars second leg African Nations Championship final round qualifier against Nigeria on Sunday, Ghanasoccernet's Nii Ayitey Tetteh predicts a stern test for Milovan Rajevac's charges.
Ganyo, my friend over 15 years, belongs to the breed of Ghanaian soccer fans who are intensely devoted to the fortunes of national teams so much that they would go any length to support the national cause.
It is this passion that inspired Kwesi to travel all the way to Calabar, Nigeria to support the local Black Stars in the return leg of the African Nations Championships qualifier on Sunday.
I just got off the phone with Ganyo who confirmed the easy part of the journey was getting on a bus while the ride itself was quite tortuous.
He would have preferred the shorter route through the Elubo border to Ivory Coast had the local Stars won convincingly in the first leg to make the return leg a mere formality, but with a slender 3-2 advantage, he has no option but to take the longer route.
He believes the journey especially through the various border posts, captures the barriers the Stars would have to scale to ensure qualification to the championship.
At the Aflao border, Ganyo is quite at home and this reminds him of the Stars midfield, the department that would be instrumental for a positive result.
In the 1 st leg in Accra, head coach Milovan got it wrong initially with the deployment of the players in the set up.
Playing Jordan Opoku wide out on the right and pairing Daniel Yeboah and Agyemang Badu in the centre leaked terribly, as the Nigerians seized and dominated the midfield.
The introduction of substantive captain Edmund Owusu Ansah into central midfield while shifting Agyemang Badu to the right, supported by Francis Coffie's silky runs on the left brought stability and a little more fluidity into the play.
This neutralized the threats of Olawale Issaka, Henry Uche and Elvis Kingsley. I like Jordan immensely for his intelligence but just to maintain the rhythm from the last game, he could start from the bench and come in late when his wits would absolutely crucial.
The La-Condji border is the border between Togo and Benin; it is at this border that Ganyo's anxiety heightened due to scary stories told about this post.
His anxiety, akin to that of Ghanaians over the Stars defensive set up.
The lateral defence constituting Kotoko?s Samuel Inkoom and returnee Habib Mohammed of Ashgold from the last game was the brightest spot in the team.
A word of caution however to Inkoom is to work on his recovery rate as the Nigerians? first goal was clearly a result of the hole on the right side of the defense.
The Kotoko central defensive duo of Godfred Yeboah and Ofosu Appiah together with goalie Fatau Dauda exhibited comical defending allowing Musa Kabiru a field day.
Fatau Dauda especially was too jittery and his anticipation was very suspect on the day. The good news however is that Fatau has been dropped entirely from the squad, his position has been taken by Hearts goalie Philemon McCarthy.
Central defender Osei Bonsu also from Hearts has been introduced ostensibly to ensure a measure of stability and organization at the back.
At the Benin ?Nigeria border known as Seme, Ganyo came off the bus to go through inspection formalities and engaged in a chit chat with one of the custom officials and naturally the chat centered on the game.
The Nigerian official was totally convinced the return leg was a done deal especially with the introduction of 11 new players into the local Super Eagles as well as beefing up of the technical crew with Golden Eaglets coach, Henry Nwosu and NFF Technical Consultant, Adegboyega Onigbinde.
Ganyo smiles, thinking the Eagles are clearly shooting themselves in the foot with these panic measures; too many cooks spoil the broth huh!
But then again he is also aware of Ghana?s own reinforcement of the crew with Sam Arday, Reverand Osei Kofi and surprise surprise, Nii Ayi Bonte known in private life as Tommy Okine.
Ganyo is however confident of one thing; the stars will play a good game and would hope that the team would convert chances that come their way.
Yaw Antwi, Kojo Poku and Alex Asamoah carry this responsibility in the absence of danger man Eric Bekoe now with Petrojet in Egypt.
As the bus leaves the Seme border, the custom official waves at Ganyo displaying two fingers to indicate a 2-0 win for the local Eagles.
What do you think Ganyo's reply was? 1-0, 1-1. Would Calabar be the last stop? or eventually Ganyo would have to go through Elubo to Abidjan come February 22, 2009. What is your prediction?
Nii Ayitey Tetteh