BLACK STARS' IMPOTENCE
Black Stars inability to score goals has been a major concern to many a Ghanaian.
Listening to radio call-in programmes on sports, I realize there are a number of people with varied views on how we can make it. This is my contribution to the debate. In my view the following players hold the key for a credible striking performance at the world cup and I have provided reasons why I think so.
In the modern game of soccer besides technique, two other key attributes of successful strikers are speed and physique. Abedi, Weah (in his heydays) Eto, Ronaldo, were/are players who could out-run defenders. Recall the speed with which Michael Owen bust through the Argentine defense at France 98. Without being able to outrun or at least match the speed of defenders, a striker can easily be played out. The other key attribute is physique. FIFA wants to stamp out the incidence of diving where strikers go down easily at the slightest touch by opponents so referees now allow a certain degree of physical contact. In a recent Roma - Juve match, Juve's Ibrahimovic using his strength and physique simply shrugged off Kuffuor and went on to score making Kuffuor look like a novice.
The referee adjudged the physical contact as legitimate. Maradona's strength washis capacity to withstand rough play.
The Black Stars need a striker with physique and speed who CANNOT be easily shoved off the ball and one who can also outrun or match defenders' on speed. I think Razak Pimpong; arguably Ghana's fastest striker in the one that comes to mind. The combination of his speed and strength coupled with his current form should earn him a justifier
1. Baba Armando.
Doya recently on Soccer Chat admitted that Baba Adamu Armando is a good player and even alluded to Baba's ambidexterity. (being able to strike with both feet). However he ended by saying “But he [Baba] must stop talking and talking” suggesting that Baba might have said something somewhere in the media which he [Doya] didn't like. And knowing how he treated Kuffuor I shudder to think that that is the reason why he keeps Baba out of the picture in spite of Baba's leading-edge talent. I hope the coach is not being unforgiving once again. We are watching. If he is a little more discerning he should realize that currently this chap is the best striker Ghana has. In the Ghana Mexico match, Doya's preferred strikers could hardly try the Mexie goalie. Baba, was able he create a scoring chance practically out of nothing. Only the best of the Mexie goalie denied Ghana a goal. Also within minutes of coming on in Egypt against Zim, he was able to score also in a manner that was not ordinary. When you consider the very little playing time accorded him and what he did with it, it adds up to a lot and speaks volumes of what this chap can do for Ghana upfront as an arrowhead. Baba is a exceptional player -probably with an Abedi potential. I would be shocked if in the next match Doya does not give Baba full 90 minutes.
A combination of Baba Armando's silky skills and Razak's speed and strength will possibly resolve our striking impotence.
When Doya came onto the scene he said one criteria a player must meet for him to get a selection was that the player must be playing regularly in his club. I think there everything wrong with this position . One can assume that this is the reason why Charles Taylor who only a few seasons ago was the best player in Ghana has not been called. Not playing regularly at the club level does not necessarily mean a player is not up to scratch. Prior to World Cup 1982 and 1990 Italy's Rossi and Cameroun's Milla were respectively not playing regularly. Stephen Appiah sat on Juventus bench for a whole year. Did that mean he was a bad player? We know Capello had probably been told to punish Appiah for going to the Olympics. This usually happens when the coach has his own agenda and preferences. This is exactly what happened to Charles Taylor in Tunis and currently happening to Kojo Poku in Denmark. Jean-Pierre Pappin, Michael Owen also suffered same fate. Prior to being recalled Otto Addo had not been playing regularly but he was called on the strength of the player he is known to be. And the same can be said for Charles Taylor to prove his worth. No one can argue that Charles Taylor does not qualify even as a sub in the Black Stars.
3.The Other Contenders
If for nothing, the CAN 2006 tournament helped us to prune down the number of contenders to places in the Black Stars. It was clear that Draminu, Edusei, Tagoe, Issah Ahmed, Paintsil, Attram, Yakubu and Joe Tex are all not Black Stars material.
However other players that may be considered for justifiers are Dan Quaye, Dan Coleman and Yaw Preko if he still has his speed. There was hardly any occasion in our recent matches where our strikers / wingers outrun and got behind opposing defenders. Sam Johnson in his heydays was indispensable to the team and I admired him. But no longer. His time is past. All who clamour for Johnson's return only need to watch Ghana-Liberia qualifier 2001 in Accra and also Ghana - Togo Burkina 1998. In both cases and even in some recent league matches in Turkey, as the last defender and very reminiscent of Issah Ahmed – he allowed strikers to run past him to score leaving him on the ground! He could not even foul them. What the coach must do rather is to work on Emmanuel Pappoe to return faster - like Kuffuor does - after overlapping.
In the Ghana Mexico Match it looked as though Pappoe was playing 11 and Sulley the left full back position.
6. Justifiers and Cut-Off Point
The coach must decide the cut-off point because he cannot continue bringing in new players up till the last minute as that will not augur well for team cohesion. There was as many as 7 new players in the Ghana – Mexico Match. He should by know now which players constitute at least his first team and focus on working on tactics. The remaining friendlies cannot all be about trying new players. By now most serious teams have resolved the issue of who makes the squad and are now perfecting their formations. This is not so with us and its very very scary!
In my view by now a number of positions in the first team are confirmed in the ff players: 1 Sammy Adjei, 2 Adu Sarpei, 3 Emmanuel Pappoe? 4 Osei Kuffuor, 5 John Mensah, , 6. Michael Essien 7 Otto Addo, 8? 9 Baba Armando. 10 Stephen Appiah, 11?