For us Accra based fans and media men, the Black Stars coming to town was exciting on several levels; Asamoah Gyan returning after a self imposed retirement; a chance to assess the potential of a young and exciting team definitely made the menu appetising.
So, in the company of friends we found our seats at the Accra Sports Stadium just in time to witness the 2013 African Cup qualifier between Ghana’s Black Stars and the Flames of Malawi.
In the end the Stars beat Malawi 2-0 despite a patchy first half performance.
The highlight of the match however was a young man in the number 7 jersey weaving magic and entertaining the crowd. Well, not to pre-empt anything, I will delay his full rating a little longer while I assess the output of other Ghanaian players.
Adam Kwarasey – 7
The Norway based shot stopper is surely growing in confidence, so much so that he could even afford to do a trick in the first half when he audaciously dribbled a Malawian attacker to the delight of the crowd.
He was quick off his lines and he also dived superbly to save a certain goal when his defenders had allowed a Malawian attacker clear on goal. Generally an assured display from Kwarasey. He will grow to be one of the important players for Ghana.
Daniel Opare – 6
Sometime into the first half, I found myself wondering if Opare was wearing heavier boots than his mates. Bad first touches, wayward passes characterised his game but he improved as the wore on.
Try as he did, it looked like it was going to be a bad day in the office for the Belgium based player. He lifted his game in the second half with a number of forays into the Malawian 18 and sometimes combined effectively on the right with Atsu to torment the Malawians. It will be a game Opare would want to forget in a hurry.
Harrison Afful -6
The Esperance player had a decent game but the Malawians used the left side of the Black Stars defence to try to create more opportunities. On several occasions Vorsah had to come in with his crunching tackles to save the Black Stars because of Afful’s desire to go forward which the Flames took advantage of. He was a delighted to watch after the break as it seems coach Appiah disciplined him at half-time. He did not make any major mistakes though it must be said that the Malawians didn’t threaten his area much. He was very comfortable going forward and added to the Stars attack.
Isaac Vorsah – 8.9
But for Atsu’s virtuoso performance, Vorsah would have been Ghana brightest spot – tempted to think that he was the brightest. He strangely lost some aerial duels at the start of the game but as the game wore on, he exerted himself and dominated the Malawians in most challenges. He was towering and hardly lost sight of the ball while making vital interceptions. On one of such occasions, he literally put his face in the way of goal bound shot. Excellent game Vorsah. A good buy for Red Bull Salzburg.
John Boye – 6.5
John definitely enjoyed himself in this game. He won most of the aerial balls and cleared his lines in unspectacular fashion. The Malawian attackers were no match for him, he saw off his defensive duties and even had the luxury of joining the attack especially for set pieces. On one of such adventures, he found the back of the net with a header but that was unfortunately ruled offside. A very satisfactory performance from Mr. Boye.
Anthony Annan – 8.5
Good decision by coach Appiah to start the diminutive midfielder Annan who epitomises consistency. That is what it was once again in this game. He was very bullish in his tackles, enthusiastic in his drives and he capped an efficient afternoon with a splendid goal that will make most strikers drool. Throughout the week he was practising these long-range shot and his training efforts manifested in the game. An absolute commanding performance from Annan at the base of the midfield.
Kwadwo Asamoah – 6.5
Kwadwo is a curious case. Indeed, he played well but when watching you still feel he could do more than the efficient performance he ground out. He started the game from deep and later moved further up when Derek Boateng was introduced. He read well, positioned intelligently but did not exert himself enough, opting to keep it safe rather than be a little daring. Maybe he could have been much better if he started off as an offensive midfielder rather than a defensive midfielder. An above average performance in midfield from the Juventus man.
Christian Atsu – 9 (Man of the Match)
The organisers of this game should have just dubbed it ‘’the Christian Atsu show” and they wouldn’t have been far from right.
Sometimes you go to see a football game and it might not turn out great but one player out makes it worth the while.
There was a moment in the game when he ghosted past two Malawian defenders, flicked the ball to the near post, and only missed by inches and with that the crowd rose instantly in appreciation of such mesmerising footwork.
He was ever-present as he worked the wings, cutting into the Malawian defence at will and creating chances with well weighted and pinpoint passes. But on some occasions with Gyan and Andre free he could have released the ball to them for Ghana to score but he definitely deserved the goal he scored in the first half. It was the kind of performance that you can watch all day. Atsu has come to stay.
Andre Ayew – 5.5
Making a return to the team since the Africa Nations Cup earlier in the year, Dede as Andre is known struggled across the positions that he played in. Starting initially in the hole behind Asamoah Gyan, Dede saw a lot of the ball but what he did with the ball wasn’t so great, he hang on unnecessarily on the ball and thus lost possession easily. I am tempted to think that this is Dede’s only below-average game he has had since wearing the Black Stars jersey. But like he said he is only just returning from injury. We know your abilities and know you will do better next time.
Jordan Ayew – 4.5
With the options available and his past performances for the Black Stars, Jordan should have started from the bench. His inexperience clearly told. At points in the game, he seemed disinterested and when he eventually got going, he tried to recreate some of Maradonna’s mazy dribbles and in the process gave away possession. He was rightly replaced by Derek Boateng early in the second half.
Asamoah Gyan – 6.5
The captain of the day, played like one. He involved his mates in a number of the team plays, contributing to the first goal scored by Atsu and also fought for ball. Gyan is indeed a great player.
He should have scored himself when he dispossessed the Malawian Keeper but he hesitated and the Malawians recovered. He dropped deep to pick up balls and took the Malawians on from the wings.
He was fouled on several occasions leaving him frustrated when the referee didn’t heed to his calls. But Gyan would certainly be happy with his output despite not scoring from several free kick attempts.
Derek Boateng – 6
He brought a lot of drive and movement which improved the Stars game in the second half by doing the simple things. Definitely an impact substitute.
Solomon Asante – 5.5
He showed promise, but then again it was evident that he was overawed by the occasion. That shouldn’t be surprising as it was the debut for the nifty Berekum Chelsea winger.
Emmanuel Clottey – N/A
Came in late to replace Asamoah Gyan and had little time to make an impact but he should have scored when he was clear on goal, instead he kicked off target what was neither a pass nor a shot.