Tactics: Agyemang Badu is the man
An efficient showing against Mali saw Ghana move to the top of Group D in the African Cup.
Franceville witnessed a much more assured game from the lads. Andre Ayew’s comment after the game sums it up: “People were beginning to doubt us but we knew what we are doing. We have not even hit 100 per cent.”
Ghana started with the usual 4-2-3-1, as shown from this StatsZone graphic. Mali, however, went with a 4-2-3-1, essentially a 4-2-4 at times. The 4-2-4 has not been used in about 60 years, since the 1950s when Hungary used it to win the 1954 World Cup. It was surprising that the Eagles went that way. It seems they knew what they were doing, because in sections of the game, Ghana’s weak left (Masahudu) and right (Pantsil) flanks ensured it succeeded.
Here are my ratings for the players and their performances. Share your thoughts as well.
Adam Kwarasey – 6: The immediate problem with the new man is his positioning. It left quite a bit to be desired. I noticed he kicks the ball long and hard, which is good, but can he also work on his distribution? Possession begins with the goalkeeper these days….
John Boye - 7: His last two showings remind me of the way he played when he was named Defender of the Year in the Ghana league a few seasons ago. If Ghana’s attack were blunt, he could have won MVP again.
John Paintsil - 6: His crosses are still not sharp, but the veteran did well in the first half, using his side to enter the Malian defence. It’s obviously due to a lack of club time that he seems indecisive at times, but he’ll get there soon.
Jonathan Mensah - 7: He’s still maturing in his tackles, but there’s no doubt about his quality. After the game, former Under-20 World Cup winner Sellas Tetteh went as far as suggesting Jonathan should keep his place for John Mensah to be benched. Well played.
Masahudu Alhassan - 5: Attacking-wise, the debutant looks fine, with his crossing and distribution quite good. The problem seems to be his ability to recover. It was risky starting him in the first place, but the team covered up for some of his flaws.
Anthony Annan - 6.5: Although his passing statistics are impressive, most of them are back-passes. That’s a problem. However, he played more solidly than against Botswana. A few more up-tempo performances will get him to his best.
Sulley Muntari - 4.5: Bad day at the office for Muntari. The look on his face when he was subbed said it all. He started well, helping the attack, but he was frozen out late on. The decision to start him was not wrong, however, on the strength of his last game.
Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu - 7: Few players in this Ghana team have his consistency and energy. He was all over the place. He even went out of his way to assist Pantsil on the right and spent a lot of time intercepting.
He also took up some free kick duties, throw ins and swapped places with Andre or Kwadwo Asamoah on occasion. He also made sure Modibo Maiga stopped harrassing Alhassan, while dealing with Keita as well.
In 2010, Kwadwo Asamoah was the key to Ghana, sitting in the hole and drawing opponents. In 2012, it’s this man, given the duplicity of roles in midfield.
Here is proof.
Kwadwo Asamoah - 7: One major game on the bench put his head in the right place. His one-touch passing returned, with deftness at key times too. Shooting has always been one of his weapons, and he experimented to good effect. A good display for Ghana’s playmaker.
Andre Ayew - 8: His coach has clearly had a talk with him, as he released the ball much earlier than he did versus Botswana. He also took his role as the man to get key free kicks for Ghana (he got four of them within shooting range, one of which Asamoah Gyan scored.). His fearlessness is a great asset, as shown from how he took the second goal.
Asamoah Gyan - 7.5: Are we seeing the beginnings of a return to his form of the last two years? He gave an almost flawless showing yesterday. That free kick – which was his first ever free kick for Ghana – came from nowhere. He showed why he is indispensable to Ghana’s success.
Charles Takyi - 6: The reason for his inclusion was soon apparent, as he drove Ghana forward. When Muntari was on, Annan's back passes and lack of forward motion stifled but Takyi brought an attacking flow into the team.
Samuel Inkoom – N/A: Came on too late to do much.
Derek Boateng – N/A: Came on too late to do much.