Ghana beat São Tomé and Principe 1-0 on matchday two of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers. Jordan Ayew calmly converted a spot-kick in the second half after goalkeeper Gilmar Eusebio brought Emmanuel Boateng down in the box.
The Black Stars have now amassed six points from two games in the qualifiers.
Here are the five things we learned from the match.
The pitch was in a very poor condition
São Tomé and Principe is populated by about 204,000 people, a small number compared to other countries in Africa. They are not known to be a footballing nation and have not invested enough resources into good footballing facilities. The pitch for today’s game was in extremely poor condition despite being heavily watered hours before the match. The artificial turf is currently the country’s best pitch and has been the home for São Toméan football for years.
Kwesi Appiah needs a plan B
The Black Stars managed 80% possession whilst attempting nine shots with only two of them finding the target. Ghana failed to create enough clear cut opportunities as they struggled to break down a São Toméan side who defended deep. Gilmar Eusebio’s poor handling also invited pressure on himself but the Black Stars failed to test him enough. Kwesi Appiah has to find a method to help his side unlock tight defences.
This new look Kwesi Appiah’s side improves in the second half
The Black Stars failed to find a rhythm in the first half of the game but improved after the half-time break. They were able to keep the ball better and managed to dominate São Tomé after Kwesi Appiah’s team talk. This also happened in the first game against South Africa where the Black Stars controlled the tempo after the break. The task for Ghana now will be to play well from start to finish.
Gideon Mensah made a case for himself
Gideon Mensah was given the nod at left-back after injuries to Lumor Agbenyenu and Baba Rahman. The Zulte Waregem defender impressed on his debut against South Africa and he carried that form into this match as well. Gideon proved to be a good attacking outlet for the team as most of Ghana’s attacks went through from him on the left side. He may be relegated to the Black Meteors when the injured players return but he will be remembered for his solid displays.
The Nuhu and Aidoo pair is here to stay
Kwesi Appiah previously struggled to find a suitable defender to partner Kassim Nuhu in the AFCON 2019 tournament but he has now found the man in Joseph Aidoo. The two players were selected as the center backs for the two qualifying games and they have done well so far. They managed to keep two clean sheets in two games whilst playing together and have been a menace to opposition attackers so far. They are yet to have a real test but the signs have been promising and they will likely play together in future matches.