Black Stars captain, Asamoah Gyan, has conceded that Ghana’s chances of making their fourth consecutive World Cup appearance would be extremely ‘difficult’ following their Group E World Cup 2018 loss to the Red Devils of Congo at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
Captain Gyan and his colleagues failed to capitalise on a slip by the Pharaohs of Egypt in their match against Uganda last week Thursday to make up for their poor start to the qualifiers which has earned them only two points in three matches.
Almeria forward, Thievy Bifouma, stunned the Black Stars with a sleek finish that beat goalkeeper, Richard Ofori, in the 18th minute while Thomas Partey scored a late equaliser to rescue the Stars in the 86th minute.
A defeat to the Egyptians in Alexandria coupled with two draws in Kumasi and Tamale with Uganda and Congo has sunk the Black Stars to third place with two points. The result in Kumasi means the Black Stars will have to win their remaining qualifying matches that include a home match with Egypt and two away matches in Brazzaville and Kampala.
While he continually remains very optimistic of their chances of booking a place to Moscow, Asamoah Gyan admitted that Ghana’s chances still remain very doubtful and may require a miracle to salvage their chances with only three matches to end the qualifiers.
”It’s difficult, honestly it’s very difficult. Things didn’t go well as expected and we didn’t play the way we expected to play like tactically, mentally. I didn’t know what went wrong but I will say the desire wasn’t there today,” Gyan said in a post-match interview.
He, however, was quick to warn fans and players of playing the blame game. ”It’s one of those days that things happen-Nobody is to be blamed here but it’s one of those days that something to get on the field and the desire-I don’t know what went wrong but I think it’s one of those days.”
Meanwhile, Head Coach of the Black Stars, James Kwasi Appiah, has also urged the nation to rally behind his team though his main objective of qualifying the team like he did in 2014 seems out of contention.
Coach Appiah has been a victim of myriad of attacks after the disappointing results but while Congo will take heart from the result, it serves as no real help for either the Black Stars or the Red Devils heading into the reverse fixture in Brazzaville, as Uganda and Egypt continue to lead the way.
For Kwasi Appiah’s men, who carried a 50-year unbeaten record against their counterparts into the clash, they are now in serious danger of seeing their chances of a fourth world showpiece appearance in succession go up in smoke.
“It’s very disappointing to drop points at this crucial stage of the qualifiers but in football, you can never say never. The most important thing is to try and do the best you can.” Appiah said in the post-match press conference. He said “in football, you can’t say never” and so hopes to win all the Stars’ remaining matches to stay in contention of making it to Russia.
Commenting on his much criticized decision to start Turkey based Joseph Attamah Larweh ahead of Harrison Afful at right back, Coach Appiah said it was technical decision based on the Larweh’s fitness and performance in training.
Coach Kwasi Appiah made a big call in dropping the experienced Harrison Afful for Attamah, but his decision backfired early on when the Turkey-based player, who was nervous throughout, was dispossessed by Fabrice Ondama and he duly picked out Bifouma for the opener.
“The moment John Boye was declared out of the match we thought it was important to strengthen the central defence and that’s why we opted to start Attamah (Joseph) on the right-hand side of defence.”
“Attamah was considered based on the defenders we have and he was doing well in training. Harrison was not fully fit so I gave Attamah the nod but as we all saw, when I brought Harrison on, the game changed”. “However, sometimes, as a coach, you look at the performance of players at the training ground before you decide who to start at a particular time”.
Ghana will play Congo in Kinshasha tomorrow in the return leg clash after departing Accra yesterday evening.