After the glamour of Miami and the prep time in Maceio comes the time to grind it and give meaning to those lofty world cup ambitions coach Kwesi Appiah and his side have so often spoken about.
Ghana’s Black Stars arrived in the Brazilian coastal city after a 13 hour journey that included stops for refuelling, transit in Salvador, Brazil’s biggest city renowned as the base of Afro-Brazilian culture before arriving in the city that will definitely be home for the next weeks and they hope much longer.
And as Appiah begins the final phase of preparations before the opening game against the United States of America on Monday, there are some areas with the team he will be taking a close look at.
The Ghana boss has a habit of downplaying most things, of insisting that this is still work in progress but while that is largely true, there are areas in need of more attention than others. And there are some big decisions that he has to make.
Among those big calls based on Ghana’s last two friendly games are
· Who the FIRST CHOICE GOALKEEPER will be is still largely a subject open to speculation. Fatau Dauda has played in all recent competitive games while Adam Kwarasey played in the last two before Monday night’s win over South Korea. There is no doubt who has looked the superior of the two goalkeepers too.
Kwarasey’s performance against the Netherlands especially suggested a goalkeeper in better shape than Dauda whose handling of aerial situations would have handed his critics fresh ammunition to demand that he should be relegated to the bench. Those training sessions in Maceio and Natal should provide good pointers to that.
· Do you stick Kwadwo Asamoah at LEFT BACK or you utilise him in midfield is one of the questions that seems to eat at Kwesi Appiah most. Asamoah had a more assured display at left back against South Korea but then again it was against South Korea while Harrison Afful looked like the time playing on the left in defence for Ghana had taken away his competence on the right.
Appiah clearly wants to find a way of accommodating one of Michael Essien or Sulley Muntari in central midfield, find space for Kevin-Prince Boateng and if Majeed Waris is fit play him too. Problem with Asamoah at left back is that he could, as he was at the Nations Cup in 2013 be badly exposed by an efficient winger in addition to denying Ghana arguably it’s best midfielder.
It is a tricky issue especially when you consider that the right backs available have looked far from good and the Afful looked far from convincing there.
· Majeed Waris’ problems offers Jordan Ayew the possibility of playing often or could liberate Appiah from toiling with the notion of how to fit Muntari, K.P Boateng and Asamoah in the same team.
Gyan’s value was enhanced by his absence in the game against Netherlands and amplified by his performance against South Korea. With Waris doubtful, it will be interesting to see what options Appiah decides to take.
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