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5 Things we learned from Egypt 2-1 Ghana

That was the obvious lesson from the Air Defence Stadium, Cairo. Of course, the Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was bound to be tested by the home team. They had to. They were looking for a result to get them to Brazil and they were bound to cross and cross until they found the goals.

But Dauda failed almost regularly every time the ball went into the area and that stemmed from the lack of regularly playing football. Some might counter this by saying that he saved shots from distance and he tipped a good effort from Amr Zaki over the bar but those tasks can be dealt with any good goalie.

The difficult ones are the ones that can be solved by reflexes that have been trained and retrained.
Reflexes that are constantly working in very similar conditions to the Egypt game.

And Dauda is not enjoying game time in South Africa and it showed.

In the first leg in Kumasi, the centre-backs clearly were new to each other and very often, they were left stranded in very uncomfortable parts of the pitch without knowing what to do.

But against the Egyptians in Cairo, Rashid Sumaila and Jerry Akaminko were calmer and more assured in their defending. They seemed to know what to do at a particular time and it eventually helped the Black Stars to qualify.

Most notable was Rashid Sumaila’s footrace with Mohammed Salah in the second half. A similar experience in Kumasi gave the Egyptians a penalty as Sumaila was a bit too eager to tackle Salah. This time, he stood on his feet, ran with Salah, and called Dauda to come for a clearance.

Akaminko also showed improvement and even went on an attacking run late in the game after Ghana had scored.

Maybe it was the venue, or the fact that Ghana had scored 6-1 in the first leg, but the Black Stars were not the side Appiah promised we would see.

It would be wise to concede that the Pharoahs were fired up for the game and they pressed intensely in the first half, but Ghana could not match the pressing and even when, patience in passing would have numbed the onslaught, the players could not find the rhythm to construct moves on a constant basis.

Essien and Muntari could not find the urge to give it an extra 20 percent while Dede Ayew’s interest in tracking back to cover Opare waned from about the 20th minute mark and that eventually gave the free kick to Egypt that caused the first goal through Amr Zaki.

Our team’s most important department was unusually passive in the game.

Reaction to any situation in a match is an important thing in coaching. Reshaping and redesigning a team when it is in play always keeps the coach in contention and it provides a chance to get a desired result.

Kwesi Appiah showed that feature in the second half of the game even though the initial display of increased knowledge was enforced through the injury to Andre Ayew. The player’s work rate in defending had dropped and that meant he could not even stretch the play enough on the offensive phase and a replacement was in order.

Mubarak Wakaso was the perfect answer and he gave a good show in the second half even if sometimes, he was beaten in the one-on-one against Shikabala or Salah. At least, he appeared close to the full back and was, at times, out wide while the left back tucked in centrally.

He showed further intelligence by introducing Agyemang-Badu for Muntari when the Milan player was spent at time when the Egyptians were also on their last legs. That meant Ghana could now run with the ball and try to force the Egyptians to turn towards their goal.

The final bit was Kevin-Prince Boateng’s introduction for Abdul Majeed Warris. The Spartak player had worked very well but his lack of a good build always left him wanting in the challenges when Ghana could have broken through for a chance on goal.

Boateng may not have been involved in the tough challenges but his freshness placed him in a good position to tap home from Gyan’s cross.

Three changes to respond to the team’s weaknesses can only mean that the gaffer has learnt a thing or two.

Disloyal, unpatriotic and choosy are the adjectives that have responded to the name of Kevin-Prince Boateng. His issues with the national team had left him on the bad side of the fans and even when he decided to return to the Black Stars, there was a lot of pessimism in the air.

So, he made the team to Egypt and sat on the bench and waited for his moment.

He got his chance and scored. And he did the dance steps with Asamoah Gyan as a celebration.
The reactions on the social media were very positive and it showed how much love he had earned by running out onto the pitch at the Air Defence Stadium even for the last 10 or so minutes.

The fans loved him at the time of scoring and maybe, the selectors may have fallen more for the German-born Ghanaian.

By: Nathan Quao/citifmonline.com/Ghana          

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