As the fall out from the Benin-Morocco and Egypt-South Africa matches at the knockout stages last Friday and Saturday, respectively, hit hard on pundits who predicted victory for Morocco and Egypt in those games,veteran coach, J E Sarpong, has cautioned Ghana’s coach, Kwasi Appiah, to adopt a tactical and compact approach in both midfield and defence in their game against Tunisia.
This, Coach Sarpong indicated, would keep the Black Stars’ team more solid and help in their gradual build up as a means of opening up the defence of their opponents and connecting the chances that would come their way.
“The Stars should play tactically and remain compact in defence and midfield and then go on the break when necessary” coach Sarpong opined in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Describing the round of 16 matches in Egypt as ‘surprises galore,’ he said the tactical acumen of coaches in teams regarded as minnows in the tournament had caused pundits to revise their notes.
Referring to the Morocco-Benin match, coach Sarpong noted, “ Morocco came to the ‘party’ with a coach who had won the cup with two different countries and vying to add the third with a team made of Champions League players and some professionals, but Benin tactically played defensively and remained compact. Benin knew their limitations and played to their strength which eventually gave them the urge over the Moroccans who were the favourites.
“Morocco might have underrated Benin, who were saved by being one of the best third-placed teams, but now, the Moroccans are home thinking of how they will make an impact in the next AFCON tournament.”
Coach Sarpong further described Egypt as ‘ one-man team’ which was over-reliant on Mo Salah explaining that in spite of the galaxy of stars in the team, they could not break a resolute South Africa side that played with such bravery.
“Defensively, the Pharaohs committed unpardonable errors and easily lost possession. They were also very naive at goal scoring and couldn’t score without Mohamed Salah” he explained.
He said it was for this reason that coach Appiah should come out with a solid team who could operate from all angles to cage their opponents regarded as one of the underdogs in the tournament.
Coach Sarpong, therefore, implored coach Appiah to keep the team that played the last group match as his starting line up as he steers the tactical aspect of the game to perfection to win the day for Ghana.
To coach Sarpong, it was equally important for the nation to rally behind the team as they embarked on the thorny journey towards fighting for the trophy that had eluded Ghana for almost four decades.