Black Stars - Lackluster and Mediocre:

Wed, 1 Apr 2009 Source: Yao Amekor

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Black Stars - Lackluster and Mediocre: Ghana 1 – 0 Benin

The killer instincts of Prince Tagoe insured that the Black Stars can look forward to the rest of the world cup qualifiers with a “game on” orientation. Ultimately though, the subtleties of soccer – doggedness, focus, and goal margin – may be the issues that may undo Ghana’s world cup hopes down the road. I watched only the last 15 minutes of the first half and the entire second half. My view is that, Benin gave a good account of themselves. Playing in front of a religiously partisan Kumasi crowd, it was startling how the Black Stars contrived to deny Ghanaians a dominant display over a Benin side boasting players mainly from the lower leagues of France. They (Benin) played with grit, tenacity, and hunger, while the Black Stars looked naively complacent and tactically immature.

We’re talking about a world cup group that includes a Mali side flooded with top-notch talent, and beaming self belief. Of course, you can rest assured that Frederic Kanoute will nonchalantly bang the goals in when gifted with the chances we were presented with. Mamadou Diarra and Seidu Keita will hold their own against our midfield. And oh! We’ll be annihilated if the tons of chances we handed out to Benin fell their way. On account of this performance, predicting the score for our impending games away is currently a problematic task.

The top performers were marginally below par. While Sulley Muntari struggled to impose himself on the game, there was an air of loneliness around the forays of Michael Essien. On the balance of play, my view is that most of the game was played in the Black Stars turf. On a day that our Black Stars were not “shining”, some substitutes appeared interested in appeasing the funs with stylish stuff versus putting up a tenaciously uncompromising show. “Why not keep it simple and progressive? What we need is goals! It is strange how some forget the goal of the game.”

In many ways, the fighting stance of Haminu Dramini was missing, while the presence of a marauding Laryea Kingston might have added favorable dimensions to the Black Stars game. Yes, the inevitable reliability of Michael Essien prevented a disaster in midfield; but Benin still had a terrifyingly impressive game in and around the center circle. That sure explained why Muntari failed to garner enough space to fire his lethal shots towards the Benin goal – except his stunning last touch that came off the Benin cross bar.

Again, the traditional problems summed a frustrating afternoon for the fans. The team failed spectacularly in creating chances in succession, but succeeded in gifting fouls to Benin in very dangerous positions. Inkoom’s headache can at best be characterized as over-elaboration and rush play to the extent that the referee did not have to think twice anymore in awarding fouls against him whenever his tormentor in chief made his runs. The cost to the Black Stars was a slew of dangerous free kicks – in fact, throughout the game. For some reason, the coach’s guidance was not forthcoming.

Tactically, the Black Stars did not arrive for the game. The lack, or inadequacy, of a gritty, and a winning mentality snuffed substance out of our Black Stars. But for an equally legendary wastefulness from Benin, the score line would have been different. In case our Stars feel that coming up top of the group will come on a silver platter, I’d hasten to warn them to rethink the whole concept since that thought process might just be the catalyst of a possible nightmarish showing in these qualifiers.

Again, I would call on the handlers of the National Team to ramp up their ambition levels when it comes to the selection of strikers. Talent – Eric Bekoe, Sadat Bukari, Ransford Osei, Sadik Adams – trumps irrelevant experience – Asamoah Gyan, Mathew Amoah. After mesmerizing the Benin defense with pace and carving so much space for himself, Asamoah Gyan managed in typical fashion to spear the ball away from the goal while the nation held its breath. It is these nuances that differentiate World Cup-winning nations from World Cup-participating countries. Good luck to our Black Stars!!

Yao Amekor | Olin Business School | Washington University in St. Louis | USA

Source: Yao Amekor