GHANA v MOZAMBIQUE PART I: WHAT WE LEARNT

Ghana’s duel with Mozambique in their Afcon 2017 qualifier
yesterday was full of lessons, some of which could hardly be missed
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Ghana continued where they left off in 2015 in the quest for
qualification to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, thumping minnows
Mozambique 3-1 in Accra before emplaning to Maputo for the reverse on
Sunday — and they didn’t even have to be in the very best shape to do
so.
But what did we, at KickerGH, glean from the game, though, going forward?
Consider five:

RAZAK BRAIMAH’S HOWLER

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Razak Braimah had an afternoon to forget

The way and manner in which the Mambas got a goal, merely consolatory
though it was, left many heaving huge sighs and simultaneously
suffering something of a deja vu experience: a cheap concession with
Razak Braimah between the posts. It was an occasion which summarized
the schoolboy errors Ghana’s tentative No.1 has made during his last
few outings. How he shockingly allowed a routine header from Elias
Pelembe’s cross to beat him from close range certainly leaves the door
open for speculation, with the popular call pushing for a new face in
goal for the Black Stars in the return in Maputo.

ATSU’S SHARPNESS IN QUESTION.

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Atsu had a torrid time trying to get the better of his marker

A leggy presence at the right of the Black Stars’ midfield, Atsu got
up and down well but looked out of his depth too often as the
Mozambican left-back, Junior, neutralised all attacking threats thrown
at him, never once getting beaten one-on-one throughout the 90 minutes
the Malaga loanee stayed on the pitch. Atsu labored all afternoon with
faulty passes, laxity in his deliveries, and indecision in the final
third. Perhaps his prolonged spell on the bench at club level all
season has began to tell, with the resulting rustiness coming into
sharp focus. And, perhaps, should Avram Grant stick with him in the
return leg and grant exactly what he needs — namely, some quality
playing time — Atsu would come good because, for a fact, the lad’s
talent has never really been in doubt, has it?

ACCRA’S GOT NO LOVE FOR THE STARS ANYMORE

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A sparse crowd at the Accra Sports Stadium minutes before kickoff

Accra may long have been the Black Stars’ natural home, but it’s
becoming increasingly obvious why playing in the Ghanaian capital
probably isn’t worth it anymore. Huge chunks of space remained
unoccupied, with GTV’s cameras doing a brilliant job of isolating the
various classes of spectators in attendance: touring expatriates
seeking 90 minutes of Ghanaian football just before heading off to
Kwahu for the greater thrills of paragliding; supporters’ groups which
are, of course, sponsored to be present and are thus obliged to be
loud; at least one man and his lover caught in the moment; and then
there were those individuals whose Easter holidays started a day
before everyone else’s, et al. The true fans — the passionate ones
once found in Accra but whose breed now show up mainly in Kumasi where
the Stars usually play — are growing extinct. And that, needless to
say, is thoroughly disturbing.

JORDAN AND ACHEAMPONG ARE THE FUTURE

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Frank Acheampong scored the Black Stars' second goal

In the absence of injured regulars Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew, it was
always a thrilling prospect to see how the substitues Grant picked for
the pair against Mozambique would fare. In Gyan’s place, Abdul Majeed
Waris and Jordan Ayew, both auditioning for the lead role in attack
that Gyan may soon vacate due to advancing age, didn’t particularly
impress. Not unexpectedly, chances were fluffed by the duo and neither
was exactly in top gear, but with Jordan grabbing a spectacular third
which did more than just add gloss to the result and Waris finishing
empty-handed, the Aston Villa man stands in better stead now.
Elsewhere, Frank Acheampong, deputising for [Andre] Ayew, shone,
translating his sparkling form for Anderlecht onto the Accra pitch to
net that early goal which set the tone for the emphatic result, only
being forced off mid-game by injury. With such strength in depth, this
team, it seems, could go on for years.

BOYE STRIKES AGAIN

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John Boye got the Black Stars' second goal

Goalscoring defenders are a wonderful thing to have, as any coach
would tell you who’s ever been bailed out by the odd centre-back’s
goal. It’s a feeling Grant, courtesy the adventurousness of
Turkey-based defender John Boye, has enjoyed twice since taking the
reins of the senior national team. You’d remember Boye, coming off the
bench against South Africa for rookie Daniel Amartey in Ghana’s final
group game at Afcon 2015, netting that equalizer which ultimately led
to a crucial 2-1 win. On Thursday, not long before he was replaced by
Amartey, Boye struck to double Ghana’s lead just when the Mozambicans.
were threatening to get us all nervy. The goal might have been a tad
fortuitous, even reeking of some controversy, as the visitors claimed
the ball only went in via Boye’s hand, but for a man who already has
four goals this season for Sivasspor in Turkey’s top-flight, there’s
little fluky about Boye’s scoring form.

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