Asks Richard Avornyotse of the GNA Sports Desk
Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - The Black Stars went to Egypt, saw but could not conquer. Instead, they were battered, vanquished and annihilated as they could only make the numbers and had to return home crest fallen and with shattered hopes.
The Ghanaian dream for a fifth African title melted in the chilly conditions of the Mediterranean and fans who had travelled from far and near to Port Said to witness the "Brazilians of African soccer" do their thing were disappointed about the high level of mediocrity that was on exhibition.
A back foot challenge against Nigeria ended in a lone goal loss, as the Stars' resistance capitulated few minutes to the end due primarily to an elementary error in football - LACK OF CONCENTRATION.
Mother luck played her part when the Black Stars swept aside the Senegalese by a single strike courtesy of Mathew Amoah's magical precision from an impossible angle. After the goal, the Ghanaians played defensively for the rest of the match and some sturdy defending preserved the lead till the end.
But the coup de grace was in the offing and it was delivered by amateurish Zimbabwe, "the whipping boys" of the group, who outplayed and outscored the World Cup bound Ghanaians.
There is no need to cry over spilt milk. Egypt won their fifth title to go to the pinnacle as the country with the most African Nations titles, while the Black Stars who made the count four, before any other country, are fixated without any significant sign of improvement. An objective post mortem of the performance of the Black Stars in Egypt exposes a lot of things about the team, which must be rectified before they emplane for Germany in the summer for the World Cup. MOBILITY
The Black Stars team exhibited a total lack of mobility, which resulted in the team losing possession of the ball as soon as they had it. There were no swift-shuffling moves into space for passes in order to keep possession and open up the defence of their opponents. The same lack of mobility prevented the Stars from mounting pressure on their opponents, as they failed to multiply in attack when they got into enemy territory.
Because the team was not mobile, it relied on predictable and square passes, which were easily read and dealt with by their opponents, thus scuttling their ability to inflict danger appropriately.
Immobility also resulted in the inability of the Stars to create decent chances and to seize fractional chances, which arose as a result of mistakes from the opposing defence.
The Ghanaian game had been synonymous with crisp passing, elusive positioning, feints, dummies and deceptions; dribble-runs and free flowing formations, which are a joy to behold. Thus, apart from yielding the desired results, the game also becomes attractive and entertaining, making it the "passion of the nation."
Unfortunately, the Black Stars failed to produce the flair that frightens and subdues even the gamest opposition. Instead, the Stars struggled to string passes together and could not cow their opponents with the kind of soccer artistry, which earned Ghana the accolade "Brazilians of African soccer."
Their approach appeared so ordinary that their opponents grew in confidence few moments into a match, seizing the initiative from them and making them appreciate the importance of finesse, as they became the hunted instead of the hunter, chasing shadows and struggling to gain possession.
Sammy Adjei rose to the occasion many times when he was bombarded with powerful shots. He however failed to deal successfully with the rocket from Taye Taiwo against Nigeria.
The above only confirms the truism that in football, goals are scored in various ways and one of the most effective ways is through shots.
The Black Stars failed to go for goals by shooting from reasonable distances. The entire team did not show any urgency in their search for goals and sometimes they played as if the object of the game is not goals and winners are not determined by superior goal count. In football, it is important that every member of a team has the penchant for goals and every little chance, which unfolds in a match, must be grabbed. In this case, shooting with precision and or power and or spin is the in-thing and the Black Stars must not be left behind in this indulgence.
Agreed that goals are easier scored when the ball is worked into the six-yard box, but it is a very difficult thing to do, especially for members of a team who are immobile and slow to react.
CLOSING DOWN THE OPPONENT
Indeed, one aspect of the Stars play, which gave Ghanaians heartaches, was the way the players watched and allowed their opponents to settle on the ball comfortably before deciding on what to do.
The Ghanaian players failed to close down quickly on their opponents when they had the ball and this allowed the opposition to gain time to plan how to inflict harm on the Black Stars. The reaction of the players when they lost the ball was appalling as well. They reeled backwards and gave their opponents enough time to survey the field and think.
It is important for the Black Stars to close down on the opposition quickly to force the person with the ball to commit errors and give away the ball or to put it crudely, "force him to play nonsense." It is not always that a team "delays defence" by allowing the opponent to hold the ball while waiting for reinforcement to seal the back.
SELECTION OF PLAYERS
It is imperative that those responsible for selecting players for the national team cast their nets wider to bring on board Ghanaian players who have the capacity to represent the nation and effectively too.
In this regard, players like Otto Addo, Eric Addo, Razak Pimpong, Isaac Boakye, Baffour Gyan, Alex Techie Menson, Derrick Boateng, Shilla Illaisu, Eric Gawu, Daniel Coleman and all other Ghanaian players doing well in the local and European leagues must be given the chance to prove their worth.
Some of the players who went to Egypt will have to make way for others and bid for their time.
For a team to do well, discipline on and off the field must be enforced. Players must take instructions from the coaches and do what they are tasked to do in a match, while the coaches must also ensure that they do not violate camping conventions.
Negotiating for contracts for and on behalf of players or making the players available to scouts and agents on the eve of important matches is to say the least, a diversionary act that would certainly swerve the minds of the players from the match to pecuniary considerations. No wonder some of the players were all nerves in the
Black Stars match against Zimbabwe and little wonder that the result was a humiliation to mother Ghana.
It is important that everybody stretches out his or hand to the wheel and contribute positively to the rejuvenation of the Black Stars. Ghana has the potential to do well in international soccer competitions including the World Cup.
It is necessary to select the right players to defend the national colours and commit themselves wholly to the cause of the nation. The mistakes of Port Said must be corrected so that the Black Stars play with authoritative flamboyance and keep the opponents on the defensive. Ghanaian footballers are skilful enough to hold the ball, retain possession for long spells and dictate the pace even against the world champions.
Let us recognise our flaws, accept constructive criticisms and map out strategies to correct them before our maiden appearance at the World Cup next summer. Keep shooting!