Sports Features of Mon, 13 Nov 20175
Appiah taking good, solid baby steps
Despite Ghana’s 1-1 draw with Egypt on Sunday in Cape Coast, Citi Sports’ Nathan Quao believes that the Black Stars showed great positive signs in their rebuilding process led by Kwesi Appiah.
The result may have been a draw but coach Kwesi Appiah can walk away a happy man knowing that his rebuilding job is on the right track.
The gaffer has stated his intentions to rework this team and give it a facelift so that he and the players will have a great chance at winning the African Nations Cup in 2019 and getting to the 2022 World Cup.
And he will not have a better time than qualifiers for the 2018 Word Cup and the 2019 AFCON.
But if he needed any reminders that all his plans were gradually coming together, the draw with Egypt was a very good indicator of some progress made since May.
The last time the team played at home, it was against Congo Brazzaville and in Kumasi and it was a performance that enraged the masses and gave Appiah’s image and reputation a rather justified massive jolt that could have short-circuited everything.
He was seen as a man who had not learned anything and his weaknesses and flaws were put on the stage for all to see.
The timidity was there. The fear of risking a lot for the needed win was palpable. He looked jittery and it was as though the boldness to make the obvious calls had deserted the man.
I gave him a very low rating that day and there were only a few people who disagreed with me.
His captain, Asamoah Gyan, said the showing lacked hunger and desire.
Fast forward to the draw in Cape Coast and the team looked fresher and livelier. The pace was apparent and there was life to what we all saw.
The biggest point of improvements?
The first one was the tactical change to go for a win by bringing on Majeed Waris for Godfred Donsah.
Appiah was not afraid to go for victory and so, he doubled his central striking options. Dwamena and Waris had to find goals for the team and that was just too huge to ignore.
The old Kwesi Appiah may have either walked away from that call or he would have delayed in giving himself a chance to pluck victory.
But not this one. At least, against Egypt in Cape Coast.
The second point of improvement was the team’s sense of industry and urgency.
For this, Appiah and the players must share the praise.
Coaches can tell players to up the ante and yet, the status quo goes unchanged. At times, players may want to go for broke but the coach is afraid.
Against the Pharaohs, there was nothing to lose and so, the players went for it and the gaffer gave the guidelines from the side. They reflected his mindset and even his look.
The denim and white shirt he wore made him look young and smart. His players on the Cape Coast Stadium pitch looked the same and at times, better.
Black Stars head coach Kwesi Appiah (Image credit: beIN SPorts)
Edwin Gyasi’s deflected equaliser embodied the new Black Stars- eager to make something happen and having the guts to make an attempt.
Of course, the road towards Nirvana is very long and there will be sterner tests when they travel to Kenya and Ethiopia in the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers for instance.
A raucous atmosphere in Nairobi and the altitude in Addis Ababa will pose huge challenges.
The players will be tested greatly and the gaffer will have to work hard to find the answers to those quizzes.
One major challenge is finding a captain who will always be available to guide his mates properly on the pitch but that will come with time.
The other bother is goal scoring especially at home. Ghana only scored two goals in the three matches played in Ghana during the World Cup qualifiers and that must be resolved.
Of course, the 5-0 win over Ethiopia in Kumasi will be pointed to as a sign that things can get better and Appiah will have to try and get the goals flowing at home. Playing on the road seems not be a bother for the team.
However, as he continues to rebuild, Kwesi Appiah needs to take a good look at his rebuilding process and be happy at the progress.
They showed deadly precision on the break against Congo Brazzaville and Saudi Arabia and they were very bold against Egypt.
He must commend the team for working together and he must persist with decisions that will make some players realise that they could be cast away if they do not show themselves worthy of the jersey.
The ship is in motion and in Cape Coast, they sailed some distance in a good direction.