Kwasi Appiah hopes to guide the Black Stars to the coveted fifth Africa Cup of Nations title in Egypt.
Ghana managed to top Group F ahead of Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau and Benin. Two draws and a win at the group stages were enough to seal top spot in Egypt.
Kwasi Appiah opts for his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation; a double-pivot in midfield, two wingers and an attack-minded midfielder in the hole behind the striker. His lineups from the group stage give us an indication of how he will set up against Tunisia.
The Black Stars learnt a lot in the group stages; the best centre-back pairing, how good the wide players in the team are and what our midfield is good at.
Black Stars Strengths'
● Wing play
Ghana is one of the best teams in the AFCON when it comes to attacking from the flanks; with 54% of our attacks coming from the left and right flanks.
This has been down to how Kwasi Appiah has instructed the team to play, the wingers and full-backs operate very high up the pitch. Baba Rahman’s introduction into the XI has been crucial, and the effect can be seen, with Ghana predominantly attacking from the left side of the field.
Look at how high Yiadom and Baba are in the attack
Tunisia loves to play and attack quite narrow, so using our width to its maximum capacity would help us a lot in Ismailia
● Getting in behind defences
Ghana’s build-up play leaves a lot to be desired at times but most often when it does work, we create a lot of chances from it. Our attackers; especially Jordan, thrive at receiving the ball in behind defences rather than in front of them.
Look closely at Ghana’s goals scored in this AFCON, majority of them have come from getting the ball in behind the opponent. The forwards may not have pace to burn, but their intelligent runs have allowed them to gain a few yards ahead of the opponent’s defenders.
Jordan’s effort vs Guinea-Bissau
Ghana’s equalizer vs Benin
Jordan Ayew goal vs Benin
All three situations above have involved two things; a good passer and a willing runner(s). If Ghana are able to use this weapon effectively in Ismaila, they would have an upper hand throughout the game.
Alain Giresse sets up Tunisia very similar to how Ghana setup, but with a few variations.
Tunisia plays more of a 4-2-3-1 system, which is built on maximizing the attacking ability of their three (3) star players: Wahbi Khazri, Youssef Msakni and Naim Sliti. This trio has caused havoc in the final third in this AFCON, but their failure to convert when necessary has been their stumbling block.
The variation of the 4-2-3-1 Tunisia employ involves their wingers drifting centrally to form an attacking trident in the middle of the pitch. They often rotate as they move across the pitch, confusing defenders as to who to track at which time.
Typical Tunisia attacking structure
How does Ghana beat them?
Beating Tunisia will not be easy but we need to do two things:
● Provide width and stretch play as wide as possible
● Get in behind the defence often
If there is joy to be found in this Tunisia lineup, it’s in their fullback areas. Tunisia’s fullbacks operate high and wide to accommodate for the lack of width when Sliti-Msakni-Khazri come into the middle. Mauritania and Mali were able to exploit this countless times during the group stage.
Mauritania able to find their striker in behind with ease
This is how both teams would lineup with respect to the tactics and movements of the players in the formation.
Tunisia’s fullbacks pushing up wide during the game would give a perfect advantage to the Black Stars; Samuel Owusu and Dede Ayew would need to stay high and wide in order to take advantage of any spaces in behind.
If Alain Giresse decides to put a leash on both fullbacks, then Kwasi Appiah would need to let Yiadom and Baba attack and create 2v1 situations out wide.
The runs of Partey, Dede and Jordan in behind the Tunisian defence would need to be perfectly choreographed if the Black Stars are to stand a chance in Ismailia.