When I was a young boy growing up in Asylum Down, I had a fetish for newspapers; I will buy them, read them and stack them.
I was always fascinated with football match previews especially the big local derbies and fiery international matches involving the Black Stars of Ghana.
Back then, the headlines screamed ''Battle fit for the Gods'', ''War of Marrakesh'', ''and Desert Storm ''etc.
As Ghana’s Black Stars engage Egypt’s Pharaohs in the final play off, for a place at 2014 World Cup, in Kumasi on October 15, I have tossed up similar theme names for the crucial decider.
‘War of Attrition”, “Rumble in Oseikrom”? Well, I can’t seem to settle on any just yet. However by way of a preview, I have definitely picked my starting eleven, “the soldiers”, for both sides, with emphasis on Ghana’s Starting 11.
Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, this is how I expect coach Kwesi Appiah to line up. Which soldiers’ name is first out of the camp? Your guess may even be better than mine.
Richard Frank Paul “Olele” Kingson: -Somebody tell me how many lives Olele has. Just when you write him off, write his football obituary and think he is buried for good, he springs back to life like a cat out of the sack.
He did that in 2006, with 2 months to the World Cup; he played in a friendly against Stuttgart and ended up dislodging then number 1, Sammy Adjei.
Then for 2 years starting July 2011, he was without a club and a forgotten man; Kingson out of the blue signs for DOXA in Cyprus and is recalled after 4 games. His call up has caused massive outcry in media and social circles, but surely Kwesi Appiah didn’t travel all the way to Cyprus to go and watch Olele for nothing. Olele would start ahead of Fatau Dauda and Adam Kwarasey. That surely will be the reasonable pick. His return would put the other keepers under pressure and if either is fielded ahead of Olele, the pressure on them to perform might lead to more jitters. So, Olele will keep and is expected to bring over 17 years of national team experience to command his goal area and also to organize a very inexperienced backline that Ghana is expected to field. Olele knows an opportunity when he sees one. Could this be another?
Daniel Opare:- This is an easy pick. The Standard Liege player would surely start ahead of Dnipro’s Samuel Inkoom who has been largely inactive at club level. Opare’s work is really cut out. He is the man to deal with the new poster boy of Egyptian football; Mohammed Sallah of Swiss side, Basel FC. Sallah has punished many a teams] who couldn’t track his slippery runs on the left wing. 6 goals he has scored in the qualifiers and Daniel Opare will have to curb his appetite to overlap and simply be a defender on the day.
David Addy:- In his quiet moments, David who plays for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal, will pinch himself to reassure himself. Overlooked for so long when he has been a consistent performer at club level, his call up must be refreshing yet one pregnant with responsibility. David will have to dig deep into his U-20 World Cup and Portuguese league experience, not only to counter the threat to be posed on the left side of defense from either Zamalek’s Shikabala or Abdullah Al Saied. His experience will trump the youth of Baba Abdul Rahman who is David’s competitor for the left back. David’s strength of bombing forward could also be his weakness and will be better served if he sticks first and foremost to clearing his lines.
Jerry Akaminko:- Another layer in the backline given another lease of life to impress. Dumped after the 2013 Nations Cup, Jerry has gone about his job at Turkish side, Eskisehirspor quietly. He will definitely start and will be expected to bring to bear his tough tackling and physical game to thwart the efforts of Amr Zaki or Hull City’s Mohamed Nagy a.k.a Gedo.
Rashid Sumaila: - So much can happen in just 6 months. Rashid Sumaila in that time has moved on from Kotoko to Sundowns in South Africa and also moved on from being a fringe member of the Black Stars to staking a bold claim for starters role. A ball playing defender , he will be picked ahead of fellow South Africa based Mohammed Awal who is mainly brawn compared to Sumaila’s brainy game.
Micheal Essien:- Cast aside by his foster daddy at Chelsea, Ghana will surely have use for Michael Essien. There are players and there are players. Essien belongs to the latter and his mere presence is likely to draw caution from Egypt’s Mohammed Aboutrika and Basel’s Mohamed Elneny who will be attacking Ghana’s defense. Essien should bring a calming presence to shield Ghana’s defense.
Kwadwo Asamoah:- The Juventus man thrived in this position in the last game against Zambia. In that double defensive midfield unit, Asamoah will feed off Essien’s stabilizing influence and have the freedom to drive and create and even unleash shots to score, like he did versus Zambia.
Adrew “Dede” Ayew:- If you are looking for a man to work his socks off, keep the opposing defense busy while tracking back to help out in defense, Dede is your man. His ability to add something extra offensively is why he is my pick ahead of another hard working player, Albert Adomah on the right.
Mubarak Wakaso:- The toughest call to make. One player is young, full of running and with a fierce shot just like his senior colleague who however is tad slower. Wakaso is the former and he gets my pick for the left wing primarily because he can match the Egyptians at their physical game and wear them out before Sulley Muntari who has been in good form for Milan comes in the second half to finish off, when the game might need his experience and surprise killer shots.
Asamoah Gyan:- The captain before the last game versus Zambia had an outstanding run;
6 goals in 4 games; playing behind the main striker. In the Zambian game it was evident that, he wasn’t fit but even in that condition he made a vital contribution with his involvement and passes. Gyan has good technique and in this position, he can also draw out defenders by dropping deep to create gaps in the defense of Egypt for his mates to explore.
Abdul Majeed Warris:- 2 goals in the last 2 games is a good return for Warris’ fledging national team career. Beyond the goals, his pace, sharpness and goal instincts belie his rather small 5ft 7 frame. His quick movement should come in handy against 38 year old Wael Gomma. With him, you can be assured that once the chances are created, he will bury at least one
A line up like this should definitely ensure an Egyptian conquest. That’s it! “Conquest in Oseikrom!” But then again …. Well, I am sure you have better ideas. Keep them coming, as well as your line up.
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