AFCON Qualifiers: Tactically bankrupt Black Stars lose to Kenya
A sorry tactical display and flat performance saw Ghana lose their AFCON 2019 qualifier against Kenya at the Moi International Stadium in Nairobi.
The game, which marked the much anticipated return of Inter Milan star Kwadwo Asamoah, was nothing to write home about, as the Black Stars were beaten 1-0.
The Harambee Stars of Kenya dominated large parts of the first half, mainly due to Ghana’s poor job of keeping possession, and went close as early as the fifth minute, only for a fine save from Richard Ofori to thwart their effort.
Kenya kept pushing and finally got their reward four minutes from the break when calamitous defending saw Nicholas Opoku divert a cross into his own net with Richard Ofori rooted.
The Black Stars were blunt in attack and struggled for creativity up front, with Christian Atsu’s poor decision making and Majeed Waris’ wayward runs to blame.
Ghana could easily have gone down by more goals in the first half but for the brilliance of Richard Ofori in the post.
Head Coach Kwesi Appiah reacted straight from the restart, replacing Edwin Gyasi with Levante new boy Raphael Dwamena, but that did little to change the pattern of play.
On the 55th minute mark, Afriyie Acquah perhaps missed the chance of the qualifying rounds so far, when he misjudged a free header and ended up directing the ball away from goal instead of into an empty net.
Ghana were handed a huge advantage when Kenya’s Joash Onyango was handed a straight red card for bringing down Majeed Waris on the edge of the box, with the referee deeming him the last man.
This prompted a quick change from Kwesi Appiah who threw on Kwadwo Asamoah in place of Daniel Opare.
Ghana went close on a couple occasions to draw level through Dwamena and Thomas Partey but to no avail.
Kwesi Appiah’s men have now picked up 3 points from a possible 6 in the race to qualify for Cameroon 2019.
The Black Stars of Ghana were stunned by the Harambee Stars of Kenya in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Nairobi on Saturday.
The Harambee Stars earned their first win in Group F thanks to a 40th-minute own goal by defender Nicholas Opoku.
Here are five things we learned from Ghana's defeat to Kenya
GOAL SCORING STILL A PROBLEM
The Black Stars created several chances in the game against Kenya but were hugely disappointing in front of goal. Striker Majeed Waris who was returning to the team had the first opportunity of the game but could not find the back of the net.
Empoli midfielder and Atletico Madrid star Thomas Partey had some of the game's best chances but flapped the opportunities.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah made changes to remedy the situation by bringing on Raphael Dwamena and Kwadwo Asamoah but a resolute Kenya proved a tough brick to break.
2. GHANA NEEDS TO WIN UGLY
The senior national team, the Black Stars dominated the game, creating several chances including dominating possession by finishing the game with 61% share of play.
The Black Stars had looked dangerous going forward but the flamboyance counted for nothing as Kenya took advantage of the own goal in the first half to walk away with all three points.
Ghana must learn to win the hard way as Kenya served as a lesson to the team.
The team missed the experience of captain Asamoah Gyan and rugged midfielder Mubarak Wakaso, who could have battled it out in the middle and could force through some of his ferocious shots.
3. BLACK STARS NEED A NATURAL LEFT BACK
Coach Kwesi Appiah's system has always thrived on the marauding runs of the wing backs. But heading into the game the team lacked a natural left-footer for the left back position. Right back Daniel Opare had to improvise at left back, even though it is not the first time he was playing in that position, it was obvious he would have fared better at his natural position.
Baba Rahman and Lumor Agbenyenu had been very important for Appiah, especially the latter, who created two goals as Ghana thrashed Ethiopia in Kumasi.
Opare had to be replaced in the second half by Harrison Afful, who has not played in the left back position for a long time.
4. CHRISTIAN NEEDS MORE PLAY TIME AT NEWCASTLE UNITED
Christian Atsu has always been the fulcrum of Coach Kwesi Appiah teams. The best of the 25-year-old has been under the manager but the winger was rusty against Kenya.
The Newcastle winger looked shot of fitness and struggled to cope with the pace of the game.
The little magician was reduced to a spectator in Nairobi. His only shot on target was so feeble and could not pose a threat to the Kenyan goalie.
5. BLACK STARS NEED EXPERIENCE PLAYERS
Despite sharing over a 100 caps, the starting eleven lacked some experience and leadership which was very evident on the day.
Coach Kwesi Appiah dropped captain Asamoah Gyan and the Ayew brothers, who have almost 200 caps between them. Other players like Jonathan Mensah and Mubarak Wakaso could have offered maturity and experience to the team.
However, despite the return of Kwadwo Asamoah, his effort was not pivotal as it was four years ago when he was part of the team.