2014 World Cup Feature: How Ghana can beat Portugal
By Nii Ayitey Tetteh
This week, my sister Naa Ayeley has inundated my ear drums with a prophecy, one by Kumasi-based prophet, Stephen Adom Kyei-Duah, apparently made on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2013.
Yeah, you guessed right, unless you are anti-social media, you are more than likely to have watched a video in which the prophet called the results of Black Stars’ group games; one loss, one draw and one win to accumulate 4 points and advance from Group G.
With the first 2 games having gone according to “script”, Naa Ayeley is convinced that a higher hand will see the Black Stars through against all odds.
Ghana’s destiny is not entirely in our hands but for all factors to go in Ghana’s favour, the Black Stars will first have to do their part by beating Portugal. As much as Naa will like to win me over to the supernatural realm and for me to buy into the grand prophecy, the pundit in me hesitates and will rather stay in the natural and deal with the “small matter” of how Ghana can beat Portugal from a tactical point of view, after all, the old cliché of God helping those who help themselves apply. Well, this is how we can help ourselves beat Portugal.
Wing play is key
Portugal’s talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled in the tournament so far. It’s obvious Ronaldo is not even 75%, heck, not even 50 maybe.
The usual Ronaldo would have run the channels, especially from left wing and cut in on goal or do a quick give and go with his team mates, but injury has restricted his quick movement and even the power behind his kicks.
It was evident when Portugal played the USA. Ronaldo was left frustrated as he found little joy on the wing. Either by his coach Paulo Bento’s prompting or Ronaldo’s own frustration, he tendered to drift in-field or in a false 9 role, just to have a taste of the action.
In doing so, he left Portugal’s left wing wide open and USA’s Fabian Johnson had dinner and dessert all night in that space. Miguel Veloso, a make shift left back, who is likely to replace Andre Almeida in Portugal’s defense, is also very shaky, meaning Ghana, with Harrison Afful at right back and Christian Atsu out right, can pitch tent on Portugal’s left wing and provide a viable outlet for Ghana’s attacks.
On the other wing, the Portuguese will attack through Nani, who though can spring to life occasionally, doesn’t cope too well when he is pressed.
This is where Coach Kwesi Appiah will be “dilema-ted”. Does he continue with Kwadwo Asamoah at left back or bring in a natural defender like Samuel Inkoom, Daniel Opare or even Rashid Sumaila to simply defend and push Kwadwo into midfield to fill in for the suspended Sulley Muntari?
Whichever option Appiah goes with, the full backs with have to be at 110 % to force Portugal through the middle of the park, where Ghana’s Rabiu Mohammed and Kwadwo Asamoah or Michael Essien should cancel out Joao Moutinho, William Carvalho or Raul Meireles’s threat.
Just like Portugal, Ghana has had injury worries too. Lead striker Abdul Majeed Waris picked an injury ahead of the tournament and though he has recovered and been training, he hasn’t seen any minutes on the field.
Appiah is probably being cautious with Waris, but after 2 games, Waris should be in a position to contribute.
Anybody who has watched Portugal’s central defenders, Bruno Alves and Ricardo Costa will fancy Waris drawing rings around them with his pace and direct style. Waris’ runs should further create openings for Asamoah Gyan in particular to shoot on goal.
Gyan has shown that he functions better when he faces goal from deep like he did when he got the second against Germany. Waris’ introduction as a starter or even an impact substitute will give Gyan the freedom to sight the goal better.
This combination produced goals in the qualifiers and the Black Stars sure need the goals to rain in Brasilia, come Thursday June 26 at 1600 GMT!
So, there you are; a couple of tips on how Ghana can beat Portugal, when that is done, then the higher hand that Naa and all you “prophecy-ans” believe might come into play.
I will be the first to punch the air should the prophecy come to pass; whereby Ghana beats Portugal by at least a 2 goal margin to improve the goal difference to +1 and tie USA on 4 points, while Germany beats USA by any margin to reduce USA’s goal difference to zero, enabling Ghana qualify ahead of the USA on goal difference.
A draw however, in the Germany–USA match will leave both teams on 5 points and effectively eliminate Ghana. Those are the permutations calculator wise, but then again, there have been many a time when events have conspired in favour of a particular country; it happened with the Black Satellites in Turkey 2013 and should this “miracle” come to pass too, it will be enough confirmation that, God is indeed Ghanaian!
Do you believe?
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