Key Battles: Ghana Versus Egypt Ahead Of Crunch World Cup Play-offs
Posted On Tuesday, 8th October 2013
There are a number of key battles to watch out for during next week’s World Cup play-offs first leg tie between Ghana and Egypt in Kumasi.
1-Fathi vs. Ayew
Although he hasn’t been so consistent for Ghana this year – having been outshone by Christian Atsu and Wakaso Mubarak – Marseille star Andre Ayew is always a handful on the left wing.
But the son of legend Abedi Pele must be aware he will be locking horns with one of Africa’s most resilient stoppers in Ahli’s Ahmed Fathi.
Ayew might still be facing competition from Atsu and Wakaso for a starting place, which makes the Ghana left flank a can of worms for Egypt to deal with.
2-Ashour vs. Kwadwo
While he is solely responsible for the left side in Juventus’ 3-5-2 formation, Kwadwo Asamoah is usually deployed as a central midfielder when he puts on the Ghana shirt.
Thanks to a venomous left foot and considerable work rate, Asamoah is regarded as Ghana’s midfield backbone, which leaves Hossam Ashour with quite a task to face.
Egypt’s defensive midfielder will have to make sure that Asamoah does not feel free near the 18-yard box, given that the Juve man is one of Africa’s trade-mark blasters.
With Harrison Afful absent, coach Kwesi Appiah could be forced to move Asamoah to left back in an attempt to contain Egypt ace Mohamed Salah; an option that may well remove a lot of pressure off the Pharaohs midfield.
3-Gomaa vs. Gyan
In terms of pace, Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan will have the upper hand when he rises to the challenge of his Egypt counterpart Wael Gomaa.
However, when it comes to power, Egypt’s defensive rock can prove an impeccable fortress in personal duels, provided that he is assisted with a quick partner at the heart of defense.
At 38, Gomaa has already shown his class against the likes of Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o and even Gyan himself in 2010.
But the question remains, will the Egypt stalwart be able to do it in 2013?
4-Salah vs. ????
With Afful suspended and a host of defenders injured, Ghana boss Appiah will be facing a selection dilemma at the back, especially with the man assigned to stop Egypt’s roller-coaster Salah.
Moving Asamoah to left back would witness a crunch battle between two of Africa’s most talented men, yet the Black Stars could lose a pillar in midfield.
David Addy could be handed the task while natural right-back Samuel Inkoom is another option for the Ghanaians to try to thwart the in-form Salah.
In all cases – excluding the Asamoah option – the depleted Ghana backline will have to worry about how to handle the threat of Egypt’s main man and with many of their regulars out, it could be their Achilles heel.
5-Abou-Treika vs. Essien
It will be interesting to see how the Ghanaians will deal with the experienced Mohamed Abou-Treika, who is constantly proving to be a major asset for his team when it comes to crucial matches.
Deft passing, expert positioning and clinical finishing make Abou-Treika a midfield beast even though the Ahli talisman doesn’t have to exert much effort.
Ghana’s main defensive midfielder Mohamed Rabiu is out of the first leg, leaving Michael Essien, Emmanuel Frimpong and Emmanuel Badu as possible alternatives for the anchor man role.
Essien and Frimpong have been far from regulars for their clubs this season, while Badu is more of an attack-minded midfielder, which leaves coach Appiah with more concern over how to foil Egypt’s number 22.