By Ameenu Shardow, follow on Twitter @alooameenu
I was very much disappointed the last time I put together such a piece but I am glad to say now that most of my concerns were addressed by the Black Stars in their 6-1 demolishing of Egypt.
I had a bone to pick with coach Akwasi Appiah over how his team played in the win over Zambia. That wasn’t Ghana!
The Chipolopolo dominated that game, only they weren’t daring enough to take the fight to the relatively star-studded Black Stars and when they did, it was too late.
And to think they played that well against a hostile 40,000 crowd and with Ghana having to prove many things, I believed and rightly so that Akwasi Appiah was probably messing up the Black Stars.
I take them all back, if indeed he is going to build on the impressive performance of his team on Tuesday.
First and foremost I had some issues with his call ups. I and I believe many others had concerns over some of the players called simply on football grounds.
I am not going to delve into the details but for me if a coach can maximize the potential of a ‘mediocre’ team, then he certainly he is a genius.
And coach Akwasi Appiah definitely didn’t have a mediocre team – only he had to merge them into a strong unit that is capable of tearing oppositions apart and I think Appiah to a large extent did this very well on Tuesday.
I had concerns with his starting XI especially with the decision to play two natural right-backs in Samuel Inkoom and Daniel Opare in the right and left back position respectively.
My concern was simply why a coach won’t be confident enough to give a chance to the natural left-backs he called into the team.
It would have been one of the topical issues had the result been different but I am prepared to give kudos where it is due as Appiah went with his gut feeling and did what he thought was best. It turned out to be a much better gamble than the last game against Zambia.
It certainly wasn’t perfect; I mean they [left and right backs] had their flaws but in all they gave very good efficient performances.
The central defence obviously was not going to have a good day as they were put together on an adhoc basis.
I think it was our weakest spot on the day but they were well shielded by the midfield – we will get into that in a bit.
I also think the Egyptians, a bit like the Zambians, lacked initiative going forward and that lessened the work load of our central defenders.
But not to say Rashid Sumaila and Jerry Akaminko were rubbish. I think they did their best under the circumstances and therefore deserve some level of commendation.
Last time I said it without mincing words that we have to look for good goalkeepers even though I believed Fatau Dauda was not yet done.
His lack of regular competitive games at Orlando Pirates remains a concern but we had a much better and confident Dauda on Tuesday. There again I give thanks not only to the players but mainly to the coach.
I asked what has changed between the Zambian game and now. Dauda is still not getting regular games at Pirates but he churned out a better performance.
And even though I still stand on principled grounds that Richard Kingson’s recall was premature, I think it played a major role. He gave Dauda if not physical, psychological competition and he responded quite well to that.
He for me remains Ghana’s no.1 purely from the angle that quality doesn’t turn bad overnight.
I made an argument in my last piece that apart from the blip in the Zambian game, I don’t recall Dauda having a bad day in post for the Black Stars.
It was however the coach’s decision to bring in Kingson to add to competition and the decision to start Dauda therefore again, I tip of my hat to Akwasi Appiah.
Did almost everything right. Again I was a bit worried that the lack of energy between the central midfield combo of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari would hurt us.
For me, a more aggressive and highly energetic player should have been partnering Essien to do all the dirty work.
But Muntari was prepared to do that work. He wasn’t dominant in doing the dirty work, but he had one vital thing Rabiu Mohammed doesn’t, vision to pick a pass.
So whereas Rabiu is only concerned with breaking up the opposition play and giving out the short simple pass, Muntari took the ball and used his creative imagination to make plays no one saw. This was very vital for Ghana haven watched the repeated version of the game.
Least said about Michael Essien the better. Why Jose Mourinho refuses to give him games at Chelsea continues to beat my imagination but for now, my only concern and delight is his classy performances for country is certainly on the up.
If he keeps motivated to always give off his best, Essien’s quality will always be a good attribute for the Black Stars.
Kwadwo Asamoah and Andre Ayew also played their part very well in tracking back to help out with defensive duties.
We have moaned for long that Ghana lack strikers. I argue now that we don’t.
In Asamoah Gyan and Abdul Majeed Waris, we have a combination of experience, pace, precision, skill, strength and most of all clinical attack.
They way the both move off the ball, track back and ensure opposing defence always have something to worry about can only be exciting for us.
If they keep fit and keep up their form, I honestly believe there are very few other effective striking combinations around the World.
Maybe he was setting me up for the big fall, but I tell you what, I will always prefer the fall if he gets the Black Stars to play like that almost all the time.
The Black Stars weren’t absolutely vintage – especially in the first half, but they did the most important thing. BE EFFICIENT.
And when they decided to turn up the heat in the second half, I almost had teas coming off my eyes just like a superlative symphony performance touching the core of a heart.
His substitutes – Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu and Emmanuel Agymenag-Badu – came on to great effect.
One – Atsu – scored while the other – Badu – came close to scoring with a thunderous effort at goal.
Appiah was however supported by an impressive staff and here I say kudos to all the official and non-official members of his technical staff.
Special thanks also goes to the President, the Asantehene, the Sports Minister and his officials and members of the Ghana FA. I know a lot of work, thinking and resources went into this game.
Most of all, I want to say a big thank you to the fans for generating a wonderful atmosphere in the stadium – this memory and how everything played out will be forever etched in my memory.
This is certainly what we all want to see and the bar has been set so high the Black Stars cannot afford to disappoint.