Barreto Plans Shake-Up
Black Stars coach, Mariano Barreto, says he will reshuffle his team for Ghana's next World Cup qualifier against South Africa, insisting that it is not over yet.
On that score, he remains hopeful that the Black Stars' journey to Germany 2006 is still on track.
The coach is also praying for the recovery of a host of his players who were unavailable for last Saturday's 1-0 loss to Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou in next week's game, which serves as qualifier for both the Nations Cup and the World Cup.
He maintained that a wider pool will enable him marshall his full force into the battle for the single slot in the group. While no word came from Armenia Bielefield's Isaac Boakye, injury prevented Yakubu Abubakar, Baffour Gyan, Christian Gyan, Lawrence Aidoo, Charles Amoah, Mathew Amoah, Ibrahim Tanko and Asamoah Gyan from joining the party to Ouagadougou, and whose return to national call-up the coach relished.
This notwithstanding, the Portuguese praised each one of his team for the quality of their output against the Stallions in the face of difficult moments.Those difficult moments might just refer to the Stars' abortive training camp in France, which came in the wake of a near cancellation of the Black Meteors' friendly international in Portugal, and the stand-off over the release of the home-based component of the Black Stars towards preparations for last Saturday's game.
When the camping in France was called off, it deprived the Stars of valuable training days, while the refusal of local clubs to release their players worsened the plight of the coach.
“They were in France for two weeks and returned to train at home one week before the game,” Coach Barreto said of the Stallions who beat Libya 3-2 on their arrival from Europe.
“We practically had just three days of training and it showed in the fitness of the two teams in the game,” he lamented.
His opposite on the Stallions bench concurred: “Ghana has a good team, but the players are not strong,” Coach Todorov Ivica said after the game.“They didn't have a big striker to disturb our defence.”
But the game was not just about the physical strength of players. With the large attendance of the game, favourable decisions by referee Chukwuiekwu Chukwudi were bonus motivation for the Stallions. With Stars' skipper, Stephen Appiah, falling prey constantly to Kambou Bebe, it was a worry that the player saw no more than the yellow card he received in the seventh minute.
And when the referee flashed the yellow card at substitute Ablade Morgan, it appeared he had confused the roles of the player and his Burkinabe marker who shirt-pulled Morgan in the hosts' penalty area. On the other hand, the lack of protection from the referee scuttled the adventure of the Ghanaians, while their opponents gained in confidence by the minute.
But the Stars had their fair share of motivation. Met on arrival by Ghanaian residents in Burkina, the atmosphere in the team's camp soared on their arrival. This rose to dizzy heights when some 600 fans also arrived from Ghana on the match day.
At that point, the many issues including the rickety bus placed at the disposal of the Stars were confined to history as the fans, supported by a well-equiped band, imbibed patriotism in the players.
But the Stars would also rue their own failures to take their destiny into their hands. Clear chances for Emmanuel Duah and Lawrence Adjei were not executed, just like Appiah's 13th minute strike at the bar.
“We have nine more games to play and we must look ahead,” was the way Coach Barreto summed it, as he focused on South Africa in Kumasi in two weeks time.The Stars, meanwhile regroup for preparations on Thursday.