Football | National

AFCON 2023: Black Stars lost to Cape Verde from the Bench – Coach Nimley

From selecting rusty players, and fielding players out of position, to horrid substitutions, the technical bench of the Black Stars is wholly to blame for the embarrassing defeat the team suffered at the hands of the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde on Sunday, January 14, according to football coach and analyst, Christopher Nimley.

Christopher Nimley believes that as a nation, the technical handlers did not give the nation any chance whatsoever to benefit from the many natural resources in terms of the quality players that were either left out of the team or ignored for the 2023 AFCON in the Ivory Coast.

The Black Stars were pipped 2:1 by Cape Verde, and the whole uninspiring performance by the team in their first group game, has left many Ghanaians exasperated, a situation Nimley thinks the Black Stars technical team is to blame.

He said the problem with the Black Stars is fundamentally coaching, not just Chris Hughton but the entire technical team has proven incapable of the job.

“Without a doubt… The problem with the Black Stars, fundamentally, has been coaching. They’ve been coaching in such a way that tactically, not only Chris Hughton but the entire technical team, they’ve proven not to be up to the task. From the players they’ve selected into the national team, I’ve got serious issues with that…

“I don’t see why we should go to a major tournament like this without some of our best players because every country, out there in Cote d’Ivoire, but for injury, presented their strongest force. I don’t think the Black Stars of Ghana is at full strength at that tournament and it has to do with the coaches not being up to the work and the people at the Ghana Football Association not swallowing and putting aside their egos and allow this country to benefit from its own natural resources that God has given to it in terms of the quality players that were dropped or that were not given a look in.”

“Now, when you go back to what happened yesterday, from the very beginning, the selection, it has to do with coaching issues.

“Number one, I have already said that there should be no reason why Richard Ofori should be in goal. He was at fault for the first goal, he was at some fault for the second goal again, because this is a goalkeeper who has not been active for the past two years. Anytime he's been in goal, he's been in goal at the national level and that cannot be the case. He needs to merit the position in the team. He is not playing regularly at club level and therefore he is very rusty. A goalkeeper who doesn't believe that he can always make one save on any ball that comes to him is problematic.

“Now if you look at that choice of Richard Ofori, problem number one. I think it should have been Lawrence Atizigi because Ati has been consistent, both at national level and at club level. Again the coaches have disappointed us there.

“My second point, if you call a player, don’t ruin him. If you’ve never seen the need to use him in a competitive game. The only time we’ve seen him play is in friendly games. How then do you ask that player to go and fill the shoes of your star player? I’m referring to Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer. There was no way he should have started the game yesterday. If you want to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt, you can go and start him, you play him where he is comfortable because that is the least you can do for his confidence. He's not been playing in a competitive game with the team, so when you are going to play him, put him where he understands the role, then you would have done something, you would have given him the foundation to build upon, but then the technical team did not do that.”

Coach Christopher Nimley
Coach Christopher Nimley

Again Coach Nimley says playing Jordan Ayew as a winger was a bad move by the technical team because of his lack of pace and at the end of the day, all the accolades usually sang of him – as a striker, his ability to dribble, movement – all came down to zero.

“In a tournament like this, how can you be asking the player to play on the wings when he's not got genuine pace? Nobody can tell me, no matter the extent to which football has evolved, one of the basic attributes of a winger or wide players is their speed, you don't compromise on that.

“I have already said, I've always said that Jordan Ayew lacks genuine pace to go past any fullback, he will not go past any fullback. Juxtapose it alongside that of Joseph Paintsil on the opposite flank …”

He said Paintsil proved to be one of our best attacking players because he is a natural winger who when he picks up the ball, runs at the fullbacks, creating one-on-one situations and creating most of Ghana’s decent chances.

“I don’t understand why our coaches cannot understand this basic attribute of who a winger is, because Jordan Ayew in my view has got the quality to play as the number 9 or to play behind the main striker…”, he explained, and suggested that Osman Bukari or Ernest Nuamah could have given the team better support than what Jordan was made to endure.

Again Coach Nimley said the choice of Baba Iddrisu as a defensive midfielder was a poor choice.

“Oh my goodness. I have never seen a DM who cannot pass the ball, fundamentally. Look, my brother, there are attributes to every department of the game and some of these attributes are basic. For every footballer, for every DM, fundamentally you pick the ball from your goalkeeper and you pick the ball from your centre-back and you should be able to pass the ball. Baba Iddrisu cannot pass the ball forward and that is taking away a lot from our game in our transitional play…”

According to Nimley, having paired Iddrisu with Ashimeru with the latter being fantastic moving forward but struggling in his defensive duties, and seeing that the Cape Verdeans were dominating in midfield, the best the coaches could have done was to pull Ransford back when the team was not in possession of the ball.

“Because at the end of the day, what Ashimeru couldn’t do yesterday, was to isolate Baba Iddrisu with the guys in the midfield, that would have meant that we would have been punished. So tactically again, Ransford who was playing as the number 10, our coaches should have seen, Mas-Ud Didi Dramani should have seen, George Boateng should have seen, Chris Hughton should have seen, we’ve got the video analyst there, didn’t they see that we were being outnumbered in midfield therefore Ransford should have dropped a bit back so that when we are not in possession of the ball, (he) should complement the gap to give Baba Iddrisu, and Ashimeru a bit comfort there?”

Coach Nimley wondered if the coaches were not seeing the basic issues at play in the game, explaining that in football, the team with the ball is the more vulnerable and providing depth in defence could have lured the opponents and created room for the Black Stars to counter-attack.

Again, Coach Nimley said the team’s substitutions also proved one of the its undoing.

“I was of the view that if we don’t define a role for our captain, we would have made the best decision ever by taking Dede (Ayew) to this tournament. I believe sincerely that the World Cup should have been his last tournament. He has been around for 17 years. He's given us quality services. We rewarded him as a country. But when your time is due, your time is due. What changed to introduce Dede into the game? I couldn’t believe it. Go back and watch the clip, before the tactical change was made, we saw our three coaches standing together and jaw-jawing, agreeing to disagree, and when they eventually agreed, that was what they could see. Goodness me, to bring Dede into that number 10 role? To slow down our play? To prevent us from going forward? I couldn’t believe it when I saw that. For once, if the technical team are honest and sincere, we lost the game from the bench- the selection, the team coaching, management of the game and the substitution were all not spot on.

“How could you keep Osman Bukari, one of our genuine threats of goals and creativity, genuine pace on the wings, and the moment we conceded the second goal, you now saw the need to pull out Jordan and give Osman Bukari two minutes, virtually two or three minutes to go and pick back the game. The substitution was there, it was obvious to have been made. At least with about 18 to 20 minutes to the end of the game, I would have taken out Jordan Ayew. Because at that moment, you needed proper pace into the game, so once Ernest Nuamah has come in for Joseph Paintsil, Osman Bukari, should have been doing the same on the left-hand side.”

The Black Stars next play The Pharaohs of Egypt on Thursday, January 18, 2024, before taking on Mozambique on 22nd January in the final Group B games.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.