Ghana suffered an early setback in their bid to reach an eighth straight Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 defeat by Kenya in Nairobi on Saturday.
1. Daniel Opare’s Defensive Frailties
Daniel Opare’s lack of tactical intelligence at left-back was exposed several times by Kenya’s Ochieng Ovella. Opare was very slow in transitioning into defence and was also unable to cope with the pace of Ovella. His side of the pitch was repeatedly exploited by the Kenyans and it is of little surprise that Kenya’s goal was initiated from Opare’s side of the defense.
2. Ghana’s Lax Attitude
In the first half, Ghana played with a lack of a sense of urgency. The Black Stars players were too relaxed and lost a lot of 50-50 balls to their Kenyan counterparts. It was almost as if there was nothing at stake. After going a goal down, the Stars played with a lot more sense of urgency.In the first half, the Ghanaian players also failed to close down the Kenyans quickly. It was a very unimpressive first-half performance from the Stars.
3. Thomas Partey Finally Comes To The Party
There has always been misgivings about Kwesi Appiah’s decision to deploy Partey as a forward. Today, that tactical tweak backfired as Partey was anonymous for most periods of the first half. However, when he was deployed in the midfield in the second half, Partey rose to the occasion and controlled the game very well.
4. Kenya’s Game Plan
The Kenyans sought to exploit the spaces vacated by marauding full-back, Daniel Opare and it worked to perfection. In the first half, the Kenyans pressed high and played with more intensity and desire. After going a goal up, the Kenyans focused on defending collectively as they looked to protect their lead and they did!
5. Officiating and Ghana’s Wastefulness
In the first 14 minutes of the first half, as many as four offside calls were made. Surprisingly, these calls were wrong as the attacking players were onside. This brings into light the lack of quality officiating which has characterized African football.
Ghana on the other hand, created a lot of chances during the game and deserved a result. However, the Black Stars failed to make their second-half dominance count as they wasted a lot of goal scoring opportunities. Definitely, Coach Kwesi Appiah will have to reconsider his decision of leaving out Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan.
With as much as 60% ball possession and 20 attempts at goal, only 5 of those attempts were on target. The fact is that Ghana lacked that little bit of “bite” upfront.
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