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Ghana, other African Nations lacking final third quality to impact on World Cup

Black Stars

Black Stars

Ghana suffered a late 2-1 defeat to United States in their 2014 FIFAWorld Cup opener on Monday evening, making it just one win so far from the three African nations to play their initial fixtures.

While Ivory Coast did well to come back and record a 2-1 win over Japan in Group C, Cameroon were poor in defeat to Mexico, Nigeria drew 0-0 with Iran and USA were arguably deserved winners overall against Ghana, despite the African side having more possession.

That latter match followed the pattern so far that has seen African sides enjoy possession in different stages of their games but then really showing a lack of organisation or invention in the final third to make the most of their pressure.

Algeria, it should be noted, have not yet played their opening game and face a tough task in opening against Belgium in Group H on Tuesday.

Ghana enjoyed 62 percent of possession against United States, as perWhoScored.com, but until the last 20 minutes or so of the match—when Kevin-Prince Boateng entered and looked to dictate play a little—they achieved very, very little with the ball in the final third.

Constantly, the ball was fed wide to the likes of Christian Atsu, who invariably dribbled infield and looked to whip in a cross, which eitheroverhit or was aimless, or else curl a shot into the far corner—off target four times on the night.

It has been a familiar story for their neighbours.

Nigeria

Nigeria

Nigeria controlled play against Iran—a whopping 70 percent of possession,via WhoScored—but were entirely without invention or tempo in their game, sending over pointless crosses, overhitting passes out of play and never looking like they were breaking the defensive lines.

vory Coast, for all their domination of play against Japan, for a long time looked as though they would fail to break down their opponents. Most of their dangerous attacks came from the right wing, supplied by SergeAurier, who attempted seven crosses during the game, claiming two assists in quick succession.

Nobody attempted a single through pass, and the same can be said for Nigeria and Cameroon in their matches.

In every case, possession was not made the most of by intelligent ball use or proactive running. Hopeful balls into the area, aimless recycling and storyline shooting have instead been the recurrent themes.

Nigeria’s 70 percent possession yielded four shots on target.

Ghana’s 62 percent, just three.

Ivory Coast’s 58 percent, as per WhoScored, only five.

While it is encouraging for the African teams to see their players enjoy so much of the ball, they have to have better plans going forward. Patterns of play or positional interchanging through movement around the penalty area seem almost non-existent compared to the fluid motion of Germany or the functional, rapid transitions of Netherlands.

These might be big European nations with big players, but if the emphasis and hopes are for African nations to reach the quarter-finals and beyond with regularity, these are the teams they must aspire to emulate.

At this stage, they look a million miles off.

Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba

Ivory Coast look like the only African side with a hope of progressing past the group stages, and even that is far from certain.

Ghana made it to the last eight in 2010, but the 2014 event in Brazil is not likely to witness a repeat performance from any of Africa’s contingent unless their composure and creativity in the final third show a significant improvement from the first week.

READERS COMMENTS

  1. EZRawlins says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with the author. Ghana had the US on its heels the whole game (despite the US’ early lead) but promising attacks would dissipate like mist…Ghana seemed to take their superior play for granted instead of using it to demolish their opponent. I think their contest with Germany will be a good opportunity for the Black Stars to see how an EFFICIENT team operates.

    It’s fair to note that an advantage enjoyed by the Germans is the fact that many of them play together in Germany (more than a few play for Bayern). It’s infinitely easier to play as a team when you’re already teammates (vs. a collection of players). However, Brazil is ALSO a collection of talent and THEY seem to effortlessly blend together, so the Black Stars can overcome their disadvantage IF they sacrifice personal glory for the greater good.

  2. millennium says:

    So true to the point… we know the game but the most important part of the game. African Players fizzle out when it counts most in a soccer game…goal scoring. It’s been the problem for a long time, yet the so-called indigenous coaches have done nothing about it.
    This makes me question the logic in our preference for local coaches over white ones. Just look a white coach like Klinsman, he was given mediocre players to train for the world cup, at least comparing his team to most teams from Africa. He has done the work of a coach, making the team(of ordinary players from MLS) looks more efficient in defense and attack. African nations previously managed by the white man saw development in key sectors . Can we say the same now that we have our men in charge? Greed and nepotism are the order of the day. People don’t go into politics to solve social problems but to enrich themselves , families and supporters. If you are not a member or the supporter of the ruling party you don’t get your fair share of the national cake (resources). Well, the don’t put that across during campaigns for political office…so what goes on…trowing dust in the eyes of people who cant differentiate wolves in sheep cloths from sheep.
    I don’t think you reading this can do anything better…we are called to make logical contribution to articles on this site so our football administrators by reading them can make better decisions. What do we read from self-made and co? Insults and profanity at the highest order. So the future continues to look bleak for most of these African nations because there is no sign there are right people somewhere who can come to change the order of the day. May God help us.

  3. millennium says:

    So true to the point… we know the game but the most important part of the game. African Players fizzle out when it counts most in a soccer game…goal scoring. It’s been the problem for a long time, yet the so-called indigenous coaches have done nothing about it.
    This makes me question the logic in our preference for local coaches over white ones. Just look a white coach like Klinsman, he was given mediocre players to train for the world cup, at least comparing his team to most teams from Africa. He has done the work of a coach, making the team(of ordinary players from MLS) looks more efficient in defense and attack. African nations previously managed by the white man saw development in key sectors . Can we say the same now that we have our men in charge? Greed and nepotism are the order of the day. People don’t go into politics to solve social problems but to enrich themselves , families and supporters. If you are not a member or the supporter of the ruling party you don’t get your fair share of the national cake (resources). Well, the don’t put that across during campaigns for political office…so what goes on…trowing dust in the eyes of people who cant differentiate wolves in sheep cloths from sheep.
    I don’t think you reading this can do anything better…we are called to make logical contribution to articles on this site so our football administrators by reading them can make better decisions. What do we read from self-made and co? Insults and profanity at the highest order. So the future continues to look bleak for most of these African nations because there is no sign that there are right people somewhere who can come and change the order of the day. May God help us.

  4. kwamina says:

    Coach Appiah must go

  5. African Consciousness says:

    Coach Appiah Waris is healthy and ready for action. Yes Jordan scored a hat trick but it was against South Korea ranked 57 and Lesotho ranked 139. He was a no show against the USA even though his brother was on the pitch with him and he got heavy playing time.

    Waris must partner Gyan to start the game.

    Waris remember to protect yourself at all times we need you for 90 minutes have no fear you will be fine. Go down anytime a German even breathes near you except once you are in the box you must do everything to finish it. Your clinical finishing will be critical to Black Stars success. Stay sharp because KPB will feed you some excellent balls.

    God/Allah has kept you in the World Cup now get out there and glorify God/Allah. Always remember you could have been cut but Coach Appiah kept you on the squad. Play hard for your Coach for keeping his faith in you. Play like a man who has been given his second soccer life. Play for love, play for joy, help Asamoah Gyan. The two of you are the best in the world. Show the World what Ghana soccer is all about. You can do it. Yes you can!