Feature: Ghana's left-back position is grave danger for 2013 AFCON
By Ameenu Shardow
I probably should bow my head down in shame for not raising this issue when given the opportunity to quiz coach Akwasi Appiah on his picks for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
However like the proverbial saying, it is better late than never.
First and foremost I’d like to congratulate coach Appiah and his technical team for largely selecting the right players for the tournament to be hosted early next year in South Africa.
The relative lack of intense criticism of his squad attests to this, only there were and still are some reservations over the exclusion of Jordan Ayew.
But that is to be expected as expectations on player selections vary from one person to the other.
There is however the bigger concern that Akwasi Appiah is considering playing Mubarak Wakaso, Kwadwo Asamoah and Harrison Afful at left-back.
It will be the biggest mistake ever in my humble opinion and any intentions to have this be a reality is better aborted at this early stage in the ultimate interest of the Black Stars.
Looking at the candidates for this position, one certainly wouldn’t have any issues with Richard Kissi-Boateng – that is his natural position so no qualms there whatsoever.
My beef is why we keep insisting on playing Harrison Afful at that position when clearly we are not getting the best out of him.
The fact is he is at least yet to score from the left-back position for the Black Stars but has already done it as, I recall twice for his club Esperance – one crucially being a goal that won them an African title from the opposite flank.
And there is obviously no use in keeping a right-footed player at left-back having to check onto his stronger foot to make a decent cross when time, in this instance precious seconds are of great essence.
As if it couldn’t get worse, Appiah is pondering playing Kwadwo Asamoah of all people at left back! This is indeed extremely alarming.
Despite his enormous potential that we only exploited to a significant extend at the 2010 Nations Cup, we have since failed to get the best out of the Juventus man.
We have rotated him across our midfield to very minimal effect.
The irony however here is that he does it better when with his club, meaning there is something fundamentally wrong with the set up of the Black Stars.
One would ask why the need to alter our style just to suit one player- answer is Kwadwo Asamoah is not just an ordinary player but one when on song, can get the whole team blazing on all cylinders.
A gist of that was shown in Angola two years ago. Where everything good about the team came through him but since then, his impact on a game has been almost non-existent.
We have much problems with Asamoah in midfield and we now want to compound it by taking him all the way back where his potential will further be limited.
In any case, the 23-year-old lacks the stamina required to do the defending at left-back and again expected to surge upfront occasionally to feed the strikers.
I refer coach Appiah and his technical team to Juventus’ 1-0 loss to AC Milan where an over-burdened Asamoah was very well dealt with by one De Sciglio.
He was shockingly so bad in that game that he failed to send in one descent cross. It was purely not his fault because by the time he finishes tackling, runs about 40-50 yards, the guy’s legs goes numb even before he decides to cross.
And we are looking at playing him at left back?! Akwasi Appiah please come again.
Aside that potential disaster, it gets even worse and more worrying that Appiah is again looking at playing Mubarak Wakaso at left back.
Let’s get this clear, Wakaso’s emergence is a massive blessing especially with the not too healthy status of Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu.
But this dude’s tackling is just so off we might just be sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode in South Africa.
He cannot put in a clean tackle to save his life and we want him to make these ‘highly abrasive’ tackles in and around our penalty area at the Nations Cup we want to win?
In the 14 games Wakaso has played so far this season for Espanyol, he has been yellow-carded a staggering 10 times and has been sent off once.
That is some statistic for a player you are pondering of playing in defence.
I honestly doubt if coach Appiah and his team are well furnished with this because I’d bet he wouldn’t have drafted him in as a defender.
I wouldn’t bore coach Appiah with names because I know as he reads this piece (which he often does) all the probables will emerge fresh in his mind.
All I can say is that, rather than saturating his central defensive unit, he should have kept a closer eye on the artificially well-loaded left-back position.
For me, our clear weakness as it stands. It is never too late coach Appiah, I only your reluctance is later proven to be a mark of a genius at the tournament.
Do you think I have a case with this feature or Akwasi Appiah made the right call on his picks for the left-back position?
Would you prefer Kwadwo Asamoah, Harrison Afful and Mubarak Wakaso play in that position as coach Appiah desires?
Make yourself heard in the dialogue box below…