Soccer News of Friday, 7 October 2016
Ghana’s last home fixture against Uganda may have ended in a 1-1 stalemate in September 2014 but there’s a high sense of optimism this time around.
Captain Asamoah Gyan has predicted a “convincing win” in Tamale, and great as that may sound, these expectations also subtly send a message of complacency, and it’s the first thing the Black Stars must avoid if they are to take all three points on Friday.
The primary aim of the Stars should be to pick a win at all cost, but underrating the Cranes and calling for crickets scores may prove unwise. The Ugandans are a solid team, and are currently in high spirits on the back of the 2014 stalemate.
Uganda clash is a dress-rehearsal for Egypt
Both the match against Uganda and the all-important away clash against Egypt next month are games that have their own unique dynamics.
While Ghana are expected to attack against Uganda, they are likely to adopt a more conservative approach against the Pharaohs. The Black Stars’ 1-0 friendly defeat by Russia away last month, to many, gave hints of what to expect in Alexandria.
Against Russia, Ghana started with one striker, in that case Jordan Ayew, with three men (Thomas Partey, Afriyie Acquah and Mubarak Wakaso) in midfield. This same approach is expected against Egypt, even if captain Asamoah Gyan is more likely to take up the striker’s role from Jordan.
Thankfully, this system looks like an unlikely option against Uganda, considering the absence of Andre Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah, whose presence could have provoked a tactical switch in order to accommodate both men in the starting XI.
Kwarasey solves goalkeeping problems
While Razak Brimah has done little over a year to convince Ghanaians that he belongs the No.1 spot, Kwarasey showed little on his comeback match against Russia, following a two-year absence, that he is the saviour the nation has been waiting for.
The Rosenborg shot-stopper misjudged a seemingly harmless aerial ball, and it had taken an acrobatic John Boye goal-line clearance to save Ghana from going 2-0 down.
Kwarasey’s demeanour in post wasn’t any different from the heavily-criticized timid showing of his first stint, and it would be absurdly erroneous to think that just by his return, the Black Stars have now found answers to their goalkeeping conundrum.
Full-backs good to fly
Harrison Afful and Baba Rahman are Ghana’s undoubted starting full-backs and the status quo is not expected to change. The Black Stars are eyeing a win at all cost, but must be careful what and whom they throw forward in the quest.
One too many, the duo were caught up against the run of play at Russia, one such break resulting in the solitary break. Playing at home, coupled with the dire need for a win, could cause both men to join the attack on occasions.
Their primary duty, though, is to defend and they must not forget that.
Amartey is a like-for-like replacement for Acquah
One of the subplots of Daniel Amartey’s recent midfield role at Leicester City has been his possible deployment in the same position at the national outfit.
The 21-year-old, mainly used by Grant in defence, seems to have generated quite some debates on his ideal position, and the Israeli appears to have bought into the argument by playing the youngster in midfield in recent games.