It might sound like an old adage but the saying that matches are lost from the bench might contain some truth after all. That is if readers would agree with my warped logic.
In that respect I dare to submit that Ghana lost our opening Group D match against old rivals, Nigeria because Coach Dujkovic did not want to win that game.
The coach approached the game lacking very vital and important tools which if he had employed would have completely changed the complexion of the match and turned the uproar over our defeat into one of serenading jubilations. Matches between Ghana and Nigeria have never followed the form guide. It is an encounter that is waged aggressively on the psychological plane and coaches worth their salt make it their business to factor this into their tactical program.
Burkhard Ziese practised it and was very successful at it. Ghana did not go into the match confident they were going to beat Nigeria. They came to force a draw. That was why Dujkovic packed our defence and left one attacker up front. If he understood the psychology that comes to play in Ghana and Nigeria matches he would have paired Joe Tex Frimpong with Mathew Amoah upfront. The presence of Frimpong in the game would have had a jittery effect on the Nigerian defence because these are players he has played against in Nigeria.
Frimpong has been a regular fixture in the Nigerian domestic league for almost a decade. The goaltender of the Super Eagles, Vincent Eyeama was a playmate of Frimpong at Enyimba when they won the CAF champions league back-to-back in 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.
It was the psychology of Ghana’s superiority over Nigeria in the past that informed Burkhard Ziese’s decision to play Edward Ansah instead of Salifu Ansah in Ghana’s Cup of Nations qualifier against the Super Eagles in Lagos. In that match, Ghana drew 0-0 with the Nigerians even though we did not have our three most influential players namely Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah and Prince Polley.
My point is the coach lost the plot because he forgot to factor the psychological angle into his planning for this crucial game. However all is not lost as Ghana can still claw back some respect by winning against Senegal and Zimbabwe-that is if Dujkovic does not sleep at the wheel.