FIVE things we learned from Ghana's win over South Korea

Ghana recorded a fine 4-0 win against South Korea at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami to round off their World Cup preparations on Monday.

Things haven’t been going too well recently for the Black Stars, with disappointing showings against the Netherlands and Montenegro not convincing many that they could escape from the taxing Group G.

Kwesi Appiah’s men have been drawn alongside Germany, Portugal and the USA in the opening round of the tournament.

While few sides would be optimistic about their chances of escaping such a testing first series, the Black Stars’ showing against Korea may have coaxed a few into believing that they are capable of springing a surprise.

Read on to discover six things we learned from Ghana’s battle with the Korea Republic.

Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah Drafted to the Peripheries

One of the great fears about Ghana heading into this World Cup is that their naive and, occasionally, meek Coach Appiah might neglect the country’s one outstanding player.

Kwadwo Asamoah stands head and shoulders above his compatriots in terms of his all-round class, his creativity and his ability to influence a contest. However, he is also one of Ghana’s most versatile stars. There has always been a great risk that, under pressure to play the Black Stars’ more experienced and perhaps more high-profile players, Appiah will shunt Asamoah out to the left flank.

Against Korea he started at left-back, as Mohammed Rabiu, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Andre Ayew populated the midfield.

Now, Asamoah is a fantastic left-back and left-wing-back, as he has proved regularly with Juventus, but putting such a key man in this position prevents him from having the influence that he might otherwise have in the centre of the park.

Considering the fact that Michael Essien may well come back into the starting line-up for the opener against the United States, there’s little chance that Asamoah will take his spot at the centre of the action anytime soon.

Here is a player around whom Appiah should build his team…it was little coincidence that on the few occasions that Ghana looked inventive, creative and lively through the middle, it was when Asamoah was straying into the danger zones.

One of the Black Stars’ great fears is being realised.

Waris Might Not Be Missed

With the game barely six minutes old, it looked like Ghana might have become the latest side to fall foul to the dreaded pre-World Cup injury curse. Waris Majeed, the Spartak Moscow forward, hobbled from the pitch assisted by two burly stewards and was carried back to the changing rooms.

The loss came as a blow, not least because the forward is something of a secret weapon (and a deadly oat that) for the Black Stars.

His injuries may not be as bad as first feared, but that became almost immaterial as the match wore on.

His immediate replacement, Jordan Ayew, scored a hat-trick and delivered a performance of such poise and maturity that he has surely played himself into contention for a starting berth against the United States.

If Waris can’t make it to the World Cup, then the younger Ayew brother looks well-placed to ensure he won’t be missed. If he can make it, then Ghana have a trio of lethal forwards who will be the envy of many of the Brazil-bound sides.

Ghana Boast a Myriad of Offensive Options

The Black Stars started their match against Korea with no fewer than six players who were exclusively, primarily or largely forward-thinking. These six included Asamoah, as mentioned, who starred as a No. 10 at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations but is likely to feature as a full-back in Brazil, as well as Sulley Muntari, Waris, Asamoah Gyan, Boateng and Andre Ayew.

None of the other African sides are really capable of matching this level of positive players in their starting line-up. Nigeria and the Ivory Coast will perhaps play four such players, while for Cameroon, it will likely be as little as three.

Add to these starters the players who came off the bench against Korea, Ayew, as well as Wakaso Mubarak, Albert Adomah, Christian Atsu and Afriyie Acquah, and one can begin to understand the depth of Ghana’s attacking options.

Should they find themselves desperately seeking a change of approach or pace in their World Cup matches, then be under no illusion—they have the personnel to do so.

Fatau Dauda

Fatau Dauda

Questions Remain in Defence

One of the key concerns heading into the fixture, from a Ghana point of view, concerned the defence. Goalkeepers Fatau Dauda (pictured) and Adam Kwarasey have both had their issues; the former has struggled to get game time in South Africa with Orlando Pirates, while the second has had problems with a thigh injury and became a father only hours before the Black Stars’ friendly.

Ahead of them, centre-back Jerry Akaminko started Ghana’s last four games but was ruled out of the tournament after landing awkwardly in the dying minutes of the friendly defeat to the Netherlands.

In his place, Jonathan Mensah was chosen to partner John Boye at centre-back, and while both men are competent defenders, neither possesses the passing ability, the composure or the touch of Akaminko.

Fortunately, they escaped unscathed from Korea, but the Asians’ hapless finishing makes one wonder if the presence of one or two top strikers would have made a difference.

At right-back, Harrison Afful also struggled, with the opposition finding much joy (and space) when playing the ball in behind him.

The clean sheet was important, as Ghana haven’t enjoyed one in a full international match since June 16 2013, but it hasn’t erased the suspicion that the back line might be found wanting in Group G.

Gyanfacesmile

Asamoah Gyan

Ghana Might Just Do It

Despite Monday night’s emphatic victory, the prognosis doesn’t look good for Ghana.

Nigeria, for example—who lost to the United States the other evening and looked, quite frankly, hapless—would, one suspects, still rather be in their shoes, with Bosnia and Iran to face, than the Black Stars.

Regardless of their attacking intent and burgeoning midfield ranks, regardless of how many they can put past the Republic of Korea, Ghana still need to oust two out of Germany, Portugal and the United States to escape the group.

It looks like being an insurmountable challenge and the majority of third- or fourth-seed sides would have already given up the ghost having been pooled among such testing competition.

But not Ghana.

The Black Stars have the talent and the European experience to be quietly confident about their chances of causing an upset or two. They can boast two Champions League winners, as well as players who have enjoyed careers somewhere near the summit of the continental game.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, they have the pedigree.

In their two World Cup appearances to date, Ghana have been drawn in tough groups (admittedly not as hard as this one) and emerged unscathed. They have never been eliminated in the first round and possess, in Gyan, a player who has made a habit of dragging his side through seemingly impossible World Cup challenges.

Seven of the squads who made it to the last eight four years ago are still present this time around.

I certainly wouldn’t be brave enough to bet against them creating a little more magic in Brazil.

Source: Bleacher Report

READERS COMMENTS

  1. Andy D says:

    What I learned..I believe in constructive criticism not being a hater
    1. I don’t know how many times I have said this but our defense is soooooooooo bad..If we meet a team with sharp very attack we are doomed…They are very shaky and play like kids.There is no command whatsoever at the back…We need leadership composure at the back we need Essien..Tournaments are won from the defense *copy dat AA*…I sometimes wonder whether AA was really a defender in his days..Defense should be one of our stronghold in this tournament if we want to go far
    My ideal defense will be Essien RB Mensah CB Boye CB Opare LB
    2.Stop wasting Kasa at the left back..It will be like playing iniesta at the LB cos kasa is that good.
    3.Dauda has proven times without number how awful he is in aerial challenges…Croo will not spare you with that one
    Ghana vs Usa
    kwara Essien Boye mensah Opare dede 11 rabiu 6 kasa 8 kp 7 gyan 10 Jordan 9

  2. George Weah says:

    blah blah blah….mr journalist just let the players play the game of football. End of story

  3. kojo says:

    The defense of Ghana is suspect – it will be difficult against USA, Germany and Portugal

  4. Lenos Ankrah says:

    It does not look easy, but one cannot rule out the Black Stars. Remember it is not easy to, even with great names like Germany and Portugal, beat teams like S Korea and Egypt with the margins that the Black Stars did. I think we have something that the rest of the world do not have and if we can make that manifest in the world cup, we can conquer the world. Let’s just keep praying for ourselves.

  5. Ghana will proceed to de final together with spain i bet u and gh wil lift de trophy for de first tyme

  6. matthew tawia amparbin says:

    what i want my fellow Ghanaians and those fanatics of Ghana, should not put much pressure on the black stars of Ghana. the performance of Ghana at the two world cup matches should not convince us that, we will do better this time round. rather, we should pray fervently for the players especially against injuries and any other unforeseen circumstances. GO GHANA BLACK STARS, GO GHANA AND GO AFRICA

  7. Soccer Pundit says:

    What did we learn from the game last night? Absolutely nothing! Actually, five things were confirmed for us–things we already knew.

    1) Appiah is clueless. Prior to this game, we had known that Appiah was clueless. But the gamelast night confirmed it. Not only does he lack significant knowledge about the abilities of the players in our team and how to field them in order to get the best out of them, but he also lacks an ability to read the game well. For example, the Koreans dominated midfield from the very start of the game to the end. This is very troubling because we boast one of the best midfields in the world. Also the midfield is the strongest part of our game. Becasue the midfield was nonexistent, the defense was exposed all through the game. What is particularly tgroubling is that Appiah stood on the touchline for the full ninety minutes and was not able to make substitutions or suggestions to the players to reverse or stiffle the Koreans domination of the midfield. If we cannot dominate midfield against Korea, how can we dominte midfield against Germany who boasts some of the best midfield players? How about against the US and Portugal?

    2) The second point that was confirmed to us last night, a point that stems from the above, is that Ghana has little to no game plan. This was very obvious throughout the game last night. Not only did the players lack cohesiveness, but they could also hardly string passes around the midfield or build a play from the back. As a result, influencial players such as Prince were left grasping for straws. This wouldn’t have happened if there was a proper game plan in place that allowed players such as Prince to thrive!

    3) Dauda’s lack of game time is showing. Dauda is a good keeper. But like every keeper, when you have not have a full season of game time, you begin to get rusty. And this is what has happened to Dauda. Because he’s been out of the game for some time, his decision making has dropped. Also, his confidence is shaken. The coach either needs to place faith in Kwarasey and play him or motivate Dauda to raise his game before the world cup or we will be inm serious trouble.

    4) Jordan is not a decent striker. I know Jordan scored three goals last night, goals which I believe helped paper over the obvious cracks in our game. But Jordan is not a striker we can rely on. With the exception of his second goal, all the other goals he scored could have been scored by a ten-year-old. The coach should not even be dupped to think that because Jordan scored those three goals, he has somehow played himself into the starting lineup. Jordan is an exciting and promising talent. right now, he is not at the level to be a starter in the team, let alone to be trusted with shouldering the responsibility of winning us games.

    5) What does Rabiu bring to Ghana’s midfield? I hardly think I’m the only one who thinks Rabiu is a useless player who runs around the field like a headless chicken. He has little to know ball skills, his passing rate is horrible, he is incapable of winning back balls from the opposition, and is also incapable of assisting the defense. But since this is the case, why does Appiah keep playing him when we have better midfielders in Acquah who cannot only pass well, but can also hustle and win back balls when the need arises?

    As a Ghanaian, I will be hoping and praying we do well in the world cup, but I refuse to get carried away. Because the truth of the matter is that, while we boast an array of stars, our coach’s ineptitude and inability to read games well or use the best and most efficient players in the game may well be the cause of our downfall.

    • PITO says:

      @Soccer ‘pancake’ your analysis of Jordan is baseless. KPB had a similar chance to score when Asamoah Gyan served him a decent cutting ball. All KPB had to do was stick a foot out but he failed. What I am I saying? Give credit when it is due. This was a friendly match and both KPB and Jordan and all the other players were excellent with the exception of our defense and goal keeper. FYI Jordan led the attack at Sochaux last season and he was a dynamite! He is only proving his maturity to you now at national level.

    • anokwale says:

      I must respectfully counter you:

      1. Appiah knows one thing that is very important. You need people on the field who are going to work hard. I was at the game and I can say that the players put out 100% on the field. That is the most important thing.
      2. The game plan last night was soak up pressure and then catch Korea off balance. That is essentially what happened on 3 of the 4 goals.
      3. Kwarsey is going to start but it was good to see that Dauda can handle a big game. To his credit, he had one great save and headed a ball away in a dangerous one on one situation.
      4. I am not a Jordan fan, but at the end of the day, I can say that unlike many of the “greats” that Ghanaians have been hyping over the years, (Clottey, Accam, Flamenyo, Baffour), Jordan came through when it really counted. I thought he was not ready but he proved me wrong.
      5. Rabiu is an extra CB who is playing midfield. Due to our shaky defense. He is needed. To his credit, he did clear a few balls that could have been trouble. We could try Acquah but I think we underestimate the pressure people feel when they are in their first big tournament.

    • lhaj says:

      Pundit, I see that you do have a better perspective of the game and therefore able to form a much better analysis.
      On your point 1, the coach, in my view looked worried and lack confidence which sends the message that he is a bit clueless of what he was doing. However, this is a test match and he has the right to mix things up so that he can come up with better answers at the end of the day. The challenge for him is time. He only had two friendlies and that was not enough to test all his options. Thus, I will give him some slack.

      While point 2 and 3 are spot on, point 4 is off base. The reason is that Jordan not only had a nice game scoring, but him and his brother worked harder for the team and his goals – all of them – where classical finishes. What I like about all Jordan’s goals are his presence (timing), composure, and ball placement. I believe you are somewhat underestimating his ability to perform at that level.

      I couldn’t agree more with point 5. The struggles in the midfield were due to the fact that Ghana cannot play effectively from the defense and Rabieu lacks the passing ability that would have allow KPB to thrive in the attack. Like you, I believe that the mix of Acquah and Essien will be superb and will largely address the challenges of the middle, and hopefully the defense. While I argued for K. Asamoah on the LB position, I am beginning to see that he could be more effective pairing with A. Ayew on the left side of the park, with Wakaso supporting them from the LB position. In all, we will wish the team good luck and hope the coach is wise enough to use his resources wisely.

    • fidel says:

      comparing Jordan to KP boateng in our game against Korea, Jordan played far far better than K.P. Boateng. Our coach should give Jordan a chance in some of our W. Cup matches and he will suprise Ghanaians. Even if it means benching KP. Boateng. KP Boateng did not perform well in the two friendlies. It is not about past glories or names but action in every game for us to see.

  8. kellss says:

    why is it always a suprise when ghana make it to the second round!!. is it a suprise when portugal go to the second round?

  9. maka says:

    1. I agree with everything SOCCER PUNDIT said, except the Jordan part; he plays like Adebayor —-i.e., give him confidence and he explodes!

    2. Dauda is useless and shouldn’t even be the 3rd choice…not even in the BS team.

    3. Once again, we are all saying, that Akwasi can’t read the game —because Korea owned our asses in midfield yestereqy, and that is UNACCEPTABLE! Why, bcos there was no creativity —mixed with combativeness —and that’s why we keep saying that KASA should not be at the back; that’s not his best position if we want to get out of the group. He kept drifting forward, cos thats where he plays best…. Akwasi Appiah, listen and fix things fast else, it will be three games and out. We are facing world class coaches here….and they will badly expose ur anus Akwasi if u don’t listen and fix this fast —u’ve spent 3 weeks in camp and STILLLLLLLL…..! This guy needs help, cos he’s clueless…and Klinsmann and Joachim Lowe will have a field day if we don’t wake up!

    4. Ghanaians should lower their expectations, cos honestly, I doubt if Akwasi can make it out of the group ….cos he keeps experimenting positions…AT THIS CRUCIAL TIME….. Till date, I can’t believe he still doesn’t know how to play the players in their best positions — then whats the use of being in camp all this while? He’s known the players long enough but still doesn’t seem to know how to deploy them to their deadliest best….and people are saying we will do what…win the world cup?

    SMH… if we don’t sit up, we will see Dauda in post, and other players in misplaced positions and come back home soon! And i hope the coach knws what awaits him afterwards…cos sometimes, i believe that soccer in Ghana has caused more financial loss to the state than any other thing! Mmtcheww!

    Coach…Don’t play Dauda — and don’t waste KASA~ Simple…

    God help Ghana!

  10. keith from germany says:

    GUYS GERMANY DEFENCE ALSO LOOKS VERY SHAKY:THATS THEIR WEAKPOINT.
    MATTS HUMMELS IS A BIG SUSPECT A´ND THE COACH HAS BEEN HAVING NIGHTMARES ABOUT WHO TO FEATURE AT THE LEFT FULL BACK POSITION.
    BENEDIKT HÖWEDES AINT A LE´FT WING BACK BUT RATHER A CENTRAL DEFENDER AND THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK ERIK DURM IS ALSO A STRIKER TURNED DEFENDER.
    I DONT UNDERSTAND SOME OF GUYS.DO U GUYS THINK SOUTH KOREANS DONT PLAYGOOD FOOTBALL?
    THIS IS THE HIGHEST STAGE OF WORLD SOCCER SO YOU CANT EXPECT YOUR DEFENDERS TO BE GOING ON HOLIDAYS NO WAY THATS GONNA HAPPEN.
    GHANA DIDNT CONCEDE A GOAL AND THATS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.ONE ALSO NEEDS LUCK IN LIFE.
    WE HAVE TO TAKE THINGS COOL BECAUSE SOMETIMES WE GHANAIANS THINK WE ARE NUMBER ONE IN FOOTBALL BUT WE ALWAYS FORGET THERE ARE MASTERS AHEAD OF US.
    AA IS DOING HIS BEST BUT MOST OF US ARE PULLING HIM DOWN.

  11. cail boy says:

    @ Soccer Pundit, well said bro….. thank you for that inside…….I hope the coach read your comment…well said…..

  12. redd says:

    Aaaaba,ghanaians can complain.Just look at the comments above.We have developed the attitude of complaining about everyth.We know more than those entrusted to do the job yet we cant stick our heads out when they are looking for people to hold the mantle.Ghana won against a wc semi finalist n the best Asian footballing nation yet look at how we are here wining about the coach etc.This is how we have lived our lives hence the continuous sinking of our economy etc.If we are chastising our team like this what shld the Koreans do.Yesterday after the game i saw smth that made me proud as a football fan.The Koreans after losing by such a margin all walked to their teeming supporters and bowed to them.The supporters in turn cheered them on.Afterall we lose some and live to fight another day.Let us all encourage our team.whether we like it or not appiah will see out this wc.We better stop wining and pray with them.If they make us proud fine,if they don’t we will still receive them because they did their best for mother Ghana and we will live to fight another day.

  13. Anokwale says:

    Redd: You got it right…Koreans still kept it positive after a bad loss. We have are weaknesses, but with determination and support we can go far. We can analyze without pulling our team down.