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Analysis: Five reasons behind Ghana’s 3-2 defeat to Portugal at 2022 World Cup

96255524 Black Stars in a group photo

Sat, 26 Nov 2022 Source:

A controversial penalty, a highly contentious goal and a well-taken goal gave tournament favorites Portugal a 3-2 victory over a Ghanaian side that became the first African country to score at the 2022 World Cup.

For all their efforts and good display, there is a generally acceptable feeling that the Black Stars were their own Achilles’ heel with coach Otto Addo and Baba Rahman the most vilified of the lot.

The United States of America referee who handled the game also did not cover himself in glory with some of the decisions he made.

As we review the game, GhanaWeb’s Perez Erzoah Kwaw who is in Qatar covering the tournament highlights the five factors that culminated in the defeat.

Below are the reasons

Five back without wing backs?

Otto Addo’s decision to start with five backs was not shocking but his choice of full-backs was. Baba Rahman at the left and Alidu Seidu at the right meant that the team struggled offensively. Alidu after a jittery start settled eventually but offered little or nothing offensively.

He is a conservative fullback and wasn’t not able to play the wingback as a Tariq Lamptey or Dennis Odoi would have done.

For Baba Rahman, his performance is rather contrasting. He provided the assist for the Osman Bukari goal and yet his display was also error-riddled which led to one of the goals for Portugal.

The referee

The outrage from the likes of Gary Lineker, and Darren Bent inter Alia sums up the performance of the referee. The penalty incident was just one of many incidents where he displayed gross bias in the game.

Watching from pitch side, there were countless instances where Ghana coach Otto Addo had to charge at the fourth referee in protest of the center referee's decision.

Almost every challenge by a Ghanaian player saw a yellow whereas the Portuguese got away with almost every crime they committed.

No movement upfront

On more than five occasions, Partey after picking up a ball looked up front for movement of any of the forwards and fullbacks and there was none.

On one occasion he frustratingly instructed Tariq Lamptey to move and occupy a space that had been created after the Portuguese defender moved inside.

The modern game is all about movement and spaces and the Black Stars lacked the inspiration upfront to create or exploit those spaces very well.

Kudus’ strange substitution

Dead the yellow card ‘excuse’, that substitution makes little or no tactical sense.

Bar the three central defenders who held their own against a strong Portuguese forward, Kudus Mohammed was undoubtedly Ghana’s best player.

He started poorly but grew into the game and was adept at fetching the ball from deep with gliding runs that threatened the Portuguese. He was at the center of anything good that happened to Ghana in the attack.

It is not shocking that the team’s performance took a nadir after his strange substitution.

What was Andre Ayew’s role

Was he a winger, striker, supporting striker or what?

There were periods where he operated as a striker and moments where he was a midfielder and dropped the deal.

Yes he scored but the goal does not paper over the cracks in his play. He struggled and so was Ghana. He may be Ghana’s most capped player now and his experience must count for something but his place as a state must be based on merit and not nostalgia.

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