Sports News Fri, 1 Jun 2018

Black Stars may have found their man in Richard Ofori

It may have been low-key, but Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah would have come away from the international friendly against Japan with many positives.

With Ghana football reeling from one scandal after the other and a sense that the Black Stars are dead and buried, Appiah has gone about trying to reconstruct his team. The evidence against Japan suggests that he has done that well so far.

The 2-0 win -- secured through goals from Thomas Partey and debutant Emmanuel Boateng -- went almost unnoticed back home. But what was apparent in that game was the fact that the major building blocks -- its core foundation -- is changing.

Thomas Partey's influence on the team was clear again, roaming the midfield and picking out passes to great effect. Lumor Agbenyenu was solid at left-back in a performance that suggests Chelsea's Baba Rahman will have a fight on his hands trying to regain that spot, while Tunisia-based centre-back Nicholas Opoku "did very well", according to Appiah.

"There were many good performances in the team, which is great news for us before the Nations Cup qualifiers resumes in September," Appiah told KweséESPN. "Emmanuel Boateng had a lot of time to prove what he can do, and I think he took it well. This and the Iceland game should give me a fair idea who to focus on."

It is unlikely Appiah will be stressing about the goalkeeping department in the build-up to the September meeting against Kenya, and two games against Sierra League in October in Africa Nations Cup qualifiers.

It has taken some time, but Maritzburg United goalkeeper Richard Ofori is beginning to make that slot his own. After a fine season at club level, Ofori turned in his best performance for the Black Stars in Yokohama with a string of saves that were as significant to the win as the goals.

Ghana have struggled for a stable first-choice since current keeper trainer Richard Kingson left the international scene seven years ago. Adam Kwarasey, Enyimba's Fatau Dauda and Razak Braimah of Mamelodi Sundowns have all had their chances to prove their worth since, but none grabbed their opportunity.

Ofori realises that the ball is now in his court to make the position his own for years to come. "I obviously want to be first-choice for a long time, but all I can do is make sure I play well and keep cleansheets when I can. That way I make the decision easy for the coaches," he told KweséESPN.

Source: Kwese.espn.com
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