SEKONDI FANS CAN'T WAIT Ghanasoccernet.com brings you a detailed preview of Ghana's joint 2010 Group Five qualifier against Lesotho at the Essipong Stadium on Saturday. You can email the writer as well.
"The coach should have varied his system at recess, the local players are simply not good enough for the Black stars, the coach should quickly pack back to Serbia, we don't need him".
These were a sample trail of comments across local FM stations as the airwaves were inundated with calls after the abortive 2010 world cup qualifier against Libya.
It was not so much the loss that so irked the Ghanaian Populace but the manner and the ominous consequence of non-appearance at the mundial that shook badly a nation's confidence.
Qualification is thus down to the final match of the first round qualifers.
What should ordinarily have been a stroll in the park for the stars, is now down to a must win situation.
So as the stars gather in Accra this week ahead of the crucial encounter against Lesotho on October 11,2008 at the Essipong stadium, We expect the garnering of all ingredients requisite to serve a delicoius meal of victory on Saturday.
Of all the requisite ingredients, I think high on the list will be the coach,Milovan.
Personally I was excited about the recruitment of the Serbian for Stars job not particularly because I belong to the foreign coach only school nor his curriculum vitae but that coaches from the eastern part of Europe for all their propensity to stick to discipline unflinchingly still make room for players to express themselves.
It was thus the perfect mix for the results we have been looking for. Come September 5,2008 to my utmost disgust the Black stars lined out in a 4-5-1 formation, a strategy that inhibits the average Ghanaian player, we did not only lose but were totally out of sorts.
But because this piece is not a post mortem and is rather forward looking I would not cite the previous matches this now famous formation has failed us notably the CAN 2008 semi final against Cameroun.
Indeed if the coach had watched most of the Stars matches like he claimed, he would have been more cautious going into his very first competitive game with the Stars.
In any case what prevented him from varying or switching tactics during the game like all competent coaches do?
It's obvious that I was very unimpressed with the coach on that day but like each and everyone of us, it's only fair to hand him a second chance to impress.
My expectation of him going into this weekend's match is quite moderate indeed; play a more familiar 4-4-2 with varying the as and when necessary.
He should also have the courage to substitute players who simply fail to show up on the day, pedigree notwithstanding. Errrm! Did I hear someone mention Sulley Muntari? A good cup of Milo is not too much to ask, is it?
As mentioned in the foregoing, a number of players got the stick for lack of effort in the last qualifier: John Paintsil, Harrison AFful, ladies man Junior Agogo, Haminu Draman and particularly Sulley Muntari who played as if nothing was at stake.
It was so bad the coach even considered cutting a number of them from the team.
On hindsight however he may have realized it was a panic thought so just like him most of the principal actors have kept their places for this qualifier save Quincy Owusu Abeyie who according to coach Milovan has been excluded for tactical reasons.
Red-hot Matthew Amoah stages a long awaited return. The striker could not have hit a rich vein of form at a better time, scoring 8 goals in the Dutch Eredivise.
Him and Prince Tagoe or Agogo partnership should be formidable enough to score the goals and more goals needed since the final standings might be decided on goals aggregate.
The team would miss the delicate touches and incisive crosses from 'Bra' Laryea and Michael Essien, the bison's surging runs in the middle of the field.
The captain extraordinaire, Stephen Appiah would however hope for better fitness to make up for the loss of Essien and Laryea.
Anthony Annan should ably complement his efforts. Which Muntari do I hope to see on Sunday? I hope the CAN 2008 Sulley shows up, if he does.
The defence, which was the forte of the team in the run up to the 2006 world cup has leaked goals badly this time round.
This I think is large in part to lack of competition for places at the lateral defence and inconsistency of the central defensive pairing.
At varying points in time we have played as many as 5 different players being juggled for the central defensive pairing.
This happening in the middle of world cup qualifiers is really unacceptable. For all his high line off side inclinations, we missed John Mensah in the last qualifier and I hope his return would bring some maturity and stability at the rear.
With Paintsil's huge appeteite to surge into the opposing half, I was hop ing for a radical change by playing him on the right of midfield while the ever improving Samuel Inkoom covers at right back.
However it seems Inkoom together with Agyemang Badu might have to join the satellites for another crucial second leg U-20 World Cup qualifier in Gambia this weekend.
A shame indeed! If coach Milovan is adamant about using the 4-5-1 formation, then Liberty's Yaw Antwi, though it seems far-fetched, might be employed because he seems to have the ability to hold the ball and take on defenders pretty well.
Old horse Daniel Yeboah, also of liberty is definitely good cover for Annan in defensive midfield.
With the above ingredients nicely mixed up, the meal of victory is simmering and almost ready but would not be complete without seasoning with the other minor ingredients:
THE FA, MEDIA AND FANS
For the Sekondi-Takoradi fans, this match taking place in the metropolis in itself is a form of victory after protesting vehemently when the FA almost shifted the match to Kumasi against the original idea.
I expect a full house on the day and even probably shout the famous "doo" when the stars score to add their own unique flavour to ensure total victory.
The media should also whip up positive enthusiasm though they may all have misgivings about player call-ups, the coach and even personal scores to settle with some FA officials.
The FA should also provide the team with necessary logistics and motivation and also desist from fuelling speculations on player favouratism by giving the coach a free hand to pick his team.
Victory is thus ready to be served on a big platter, grab a seat and partake of the football feast from the Essipong Stadium, after all you know what they say, THE BEST COMES FROM THE WEST!
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