CK Akonnor’s tenure as Black Stars coach got off to a catastrophic start after losing 3-0 to Mali in a friendly game.
It was the first time the national team was playing a game in 10 months, and it was the first time Akonnor had a chance to also train with his players.
However, the overall performance of the team suggests that Akonnor has a mountainous task ahead of him.
Here are eight talking points from the game.
Eugene Ansah is not ready to play for the senior national team
Ansah was the perfect description of a ghost in the match against Mali. He did not offer any help to Gideon Mensah in the first half, often leaving the left-back exposed to attacks from the Eagles.
The Hapoel Shmona attacker was also barely involved in the team’s pressing, giving Mali lots of space to keep the ball. The 25-year-old offered close to zero on the offensive end, failing to create chances for Jordan Ayew.
Charles Akonnor saw his ineffectiveness and rightly took him off in the 42nd minute for Kamaldeen. Akonnor should consider other players for the left-wing in the future.
Tariq Fosu a good option for the right-back spot
Whilst Gideon Mensah was struggling on the other side, Fosu played well and was one of Ghana’s brightest spots on the night. He deserves some credit considering the fact that it is his first game for the team.
The Brentford winger, who played this match as a right-back, showed great confidence throughout the game with good close control and link-up play. Unfortunately, he offered little going forward and it should be worked on. Fosu should be given more playing time in the near future.
CK Akonnor’s philosophy yet to be seen
Akonnor earned the Black Stars job after a successful spell at Asante Kotoko and a short stint as assistant Black Stars coach to Kwesi Appiah. The tactician hinted on employing an attacking philosophy in the team ahead of the friendlies.
Unfortunately, very little of that was seen against Mali. The team were bad at pressing, struggled to string quality passes together and overall showed a disconnect all over the pitch. It may be early days yet but the game did not do any favors to Akonnor’s reputation.
Gideon Mensah failed to impress
After it was confirmed that Lumor Agbenyenu could not join the team, the responsibility fell on Vitoria left-back, Gideon Mensah to handle the left side of defense. It is fair to say that he failed his audition.
His zone became an easy target for the Eagles and they found huge success there. For the first goal, he failed to muscle off Traore and for the second, he failed to block Traore’s sumptuous cross for Toure. He was unsurprisingly taken off for Caleb Ekuban.
Jordan Ayew needs service
After coming off the back of an excellent campaign at Crystal Palace, Jordan was unsurprisingly named to lead the line tonight. However, he barely had the chance to effect the game due to lack of quality service.
In the few times he had the ball further down the pitch, the Mali defense did its job to nullify him. The 28-year-old often dropped deep to get the ball due to lack of creativity and it hurt his offensive game immensely. The former Aston Villa man needs to have the ball more in dangerous positions to weave his magic.
Ghana possessed the ball but for most parts without any penetration as the Mali backline was barely stretched. As a result, Ghana failed to muster any clear cut chances and failed to test Diarra.
Bernard Mensah and Thomas Partey failed to impose themselves in the game leaving gaps in the creation levels of the team. Perhaps, a ball carrier such as Mohammed Kudus could have made a difference due his unpredictable nature.
Thomas Partey, a pale shadow of himself
All eyes were on Thomas Partey after he completed his big money transfer to Arsenal on transfer deadline day. Clearly, Partey was still elated by his dream move as he struggled to show the world why Arsenal signed him.
It is understandable that the 27-year-old is coming off the back of a mentally draining period and having joined the Black Stars late in camp could have all factored into his poor performance against Mali.
CK Akonnor’s substitutions were not encouraging
Yes it was a friendly, but keeping your best players on the pitch signals an intent of treating the match with significance.
Akonnor had an option of changing his entire team in the second half to give a chance to the whole squad. However, the Ghana coach opted to use just four substitutions leaving key men such as Jordan, Andre and Partey on the pitch for the entirety of the game.
The four changes made by Akonnor were Sulemana, Lomotey, Aidoo and Ekuban; none of whom had an impact on the game in any way.
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