Source: www.africanakua.com / Napoleon Ato Kittoe, Ghana
This Africa Under 23 match only asked questions more than raise answers on pertinent issues about soccer.
Ghana Black Meteors loses 4-2 on penalties to Young Elephants of Ivory Coast in the next year’s Olympic soccer qualifiers being staged in Egypt.
What are the questions? It is clearer by now that Ghana has not gone to any drawing board to find antidotes to their Achilles heel in football. If the going gets tough for you in regulation time, just force a draw against Ghana, you are sure to book your ticket in the ensuing penalty shootout. The Under 23 match put a stamp on Ghana’s weakness, another disaster in manner of 1992 and 2015 losses at the men’s senior level.
Ghana concedes carbon copy goals in open play. This then suggests that team handlers are probably not doing match reviews in the enclosure of classrooms to learn about opponents and even their own shortcomings. Ivory Coast’s second goal during regulation time was picturesque by all standards, from the build up to finish. But wait a minute. In the pause, can you find an encore of typical goals conceded by Ghana? Lack of anticipation, poor man marking and all that in the 18 yard box, arising from a float of the ball to a target who opportunely finishes off in the melee. Ghana’s inability to hold off set pieces in and around their danger zone is now a commonplace knowledge, well exploited by opponents.
In this game, that ended 2-2 draw before Ghana was punished yet again on penalties, the team’s defensive play was another highlight as players failed to effectively tackle advancing opponents. Consequently, attackers had space to draw rings around Ghana defense. What happened to the sliding tackles and back up system associated with youth teams of old, where two players are thrust on probing attackers to harass and thwart threats?
In penalty shootout itself, Ghana has always been undermined by weaklings whose acts do not depict hunger and drive to assail challenges. If for nothing at all, the pride at stake, especially in matches involving arch soccer rivals as Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In the match itself, the young elephants dropped hints they could be answer for what Ivorian teams have lacked since the 90s, and are likely to provide the attacking flair for a nation whose mainstay in soccer are confined to defense and midfield. The young elephants attacked with gusto and that gave arrow head Dao opportunities to draw blood.
The response of Ghana’s meteors was also a revelation, scoring twice from behind through Obeng and Mensah.
All the four goals in open play did affirm a major soccer lesson. In hard matches or when the going gets tougher, one needs the uncanny sixth sense to make the difference. You need to take chances with lightening speed. This is the kernel of modern play, a superior technique for goal scoring associated with most star players across time.