Analysis: What went wrong for Egypt in Ghana?

Published on: 16 October 2013
Analysis: What went wrong for Egypt in Ghana?
Egypt players left ashen faced after 6-1 defeat to Ghana in Kumasi.


Setting aside the customary excuses of 'no league, harsh conditions, political instability…etc.', Egypt’s 6-1 annihilation in Ghana was a footballing catastrophe independent of any pre-match surroundings.

Egyptian football – just like many other fields – has been suffering, yet it was never a disaster in the making for Bob Bradley’s team.

What happened in Kumasi cannot be considered a natural conclusion to the poor resourcing this team has been provided with throughout the past couple of years.

In other words, Bradley and Co. have actually been moving in the right direction toward a 'World Cup dream', until the hapless American turned from hero to zero in a forgettable evening at the Baba Yara.

The fatal mental error: No plan B!

It is without doubt that the idea of getting hammered by an incessant early assault that included two goals in 22 minutes has ever crossed the mind of any Egypt player before the Ghana match.

Asamoah Gyan’s 10th second attempt was supposed to be a wake-up call rather than the starting point that triggered a series of damages leading to Egypt’s crumbling.

Preparing your players psychologically is a fundamental part of a manager’s job, sometimes more important than any tactical plan.

A technical deficiency could cost you a match, could actually cause a two-or-three-goal damage, but would never condemn you to a six-goal drubbing in a playoff tie.

No doubt that Bradley – which is still regarded as a good coach – had not missed that, yet the American seems to have followed the wrong approach adjusting the mentality of his players.

‘We are coming here to win’ is not the right phrase to build your team’s spirit upon ahead of the away game of a two-legged tie, where pressure could be a pivotal player for you or against you.

Conceding no goals should have been the priority, simply because even a 1-0 defeat would have been considered a good result for the away team.

It also seems that the half-time team-talk was all about 'scoring an away goal', rather than trying to limit the losses – this was evident in the rash substitution of defender Ahmed Shedid by Shikabala; a player who hardly makes a tackle.

 Tactical failures

1-The left-back: Deploying your smallest player against a team of giants

Ahmed Shedid is a fine dribbler, plays safe, has a neat pass and that’s it.

Defensively, the Ahli man is second-favorite in any one-on-one duel given his tiny figure, is not the best full-back to provide cover behind center-halves and will never claim anything in the air.

Without stressing on his attacking attributes, it is fair to say that Shedid is by no means the best left-back in the country, especially when we are talking about a four-player backline.

It seems Bradley realized this at half time, only to worsen things by moving winger Walid Soliman to left back and sending in attacker Shikabala.

"I wish to interview Bradley and ask him if he is aware that this is a two-legged tie?" said former Egypt striker Mido while analyzing the match at Al-Jazeera Sport TV.

"At 3-1, any manager in the world would try to prevent his team from conceding more goals, but instead he moved Walid Soliman to left back!"

2-Fathi inside, Elmohamady at right-back

It is very uncommon to see a regular English Premier League player confined to the bench at such a top-level match, at least not with a mainly local-based side like Egypt.

Ahmed Elmohamady has been playing second fiddle to Ahmed Fathi just because the latter is a better defender, but how about starting with both men?

Despite his lack of pace, the 38-year-old Wael Gomaa remains a defensive pillar for Egypt, yet the big question was always who should play beside him.

It should have been Fathi beside Gomaa, with Elmohamady on the right, because the truth is that Mohamed Naguib has never been an international player.

3-Two midfield spectators

With all due respect to Mohamed Elneny’s status as a Europe-based player, the Basel midfielder will be returning home soon if he didn’t manage to improve his game.

Elneny almost does nothing in the final third, which is fairly the same thing that can be said about his midfield partner Hossam Ashour, although the latter remains a better tackler.

This type of pedestrian midfield no longer exists in modern football, that’s why Egypt needed a commanding figure at the center beside enforcer Ashour and schemer Hossam Ghaly.

It is true that Bradley was so unlucky to lose Hosni Abd-Rabou for most of the year, yet a solution should have been worked out to the ineffectual Ashour-Elneny partnership.

4-No striker!

Barcelona’s famous false-number-nine strategy has been working like a charm for the Lionel-Messi-inspired Blaugrana, but can it be applied with Egypt?!

The answer is a big no because such an approach is only executed by working the ball into the opponent’s box through a mesmerizing passing swirl that requires a special group of players.

Egypt rely on two things – and just two things – in the final third; Mohamed Salah’s pace and Mohamed Abou-Treika vision.; a totally different story.

The presence of a resilient striker like Amr Zaki would have stretched back the Ghana defense, keeping the center-halves busy all the time without even touching the ball.

This would have given Salah and Abou-Treika the space they need to work their lethal partnership, which was utterly shut down by the double impact of Ghana’s high backline and tenacious midfield.

Despite his heroics with Ahli, Walid Soliman is a wide man and is thus not the ideal component to be added to an attack-line including Salah and Abou-Treika.


  • spellBOUND
    says: 6 years ago
    great analysis.
  • Alfredo
    says: 6 years ago
    This analysis does not hold water & should be regarded as a space-filler! No one should shy away from the fact that Ghana is a far better side than Egypt & would still have beaten them handsomely no matter Egypt's selection & tactics! Considering the fact that Egypt went through their earlier group qualifiers with a 100% record means their selections & strategies have been perfect. In their last meeting, Ghana beat them 3:0 which is also a heavy scoreline so beating them again by 6:1 means Ghana is by far the stronger side & nothing else! To be fair & honest, Ghana's qualifying group was the toughest with two other Afcon participants Zambia & Sudan unlike the other groups having a lot of minnows. Do you also think that it's easy to top such a group after 2012 Afcon winners Zambia were given 3 free points? If Ghana had all its best players at Afcon, the story would have been different!
  • Welbeck Jnr
    says: 6 years ago
    This is purly out of place. Bradley employed ths stratdgy and had a 100% record. Look our secret is Essien.
    says: 6 years ago
    MY LAST COMMENT ON GSN…… GFA should pls and pls do everything within her power, pull all necessary strings to make sure that the return leg is not played in EGYPT. GFA pls and pls don’t put the lives of your stars and supporters in danger by going to Egypt for the return leg. Keep your loved ones close cos they won’t live twice. God bless Ghana, God bless Naija & long live west Africa football. Looking forward to an unfriendly-friendly match between NIGERIA VS GHANA. Goodbye GSN! Goodbye Ghanaians……
    says: 6 years ago
    People also forget that Ghana's present team has been strengthened by the inclusion of experienced, active and top class players such as Essien, Muntari, Dede, K. Asamoah, Badu and also a NEW set of young brilliance such as Atsu, Wakaso, Waris, Opare, Rabiu etc. In 2010 AFCON when Ghana played Egypt the team had 6 inexperienced U20s included and so we played well but lost. What has happened since then is that Ghana has been adding to the squad better players and dropping others. Today even Ghana's substitutes look like they could start: Wakaso, Badu, Atsu etc.....Ghana's bench has gotten very deep. Another point that I would like to make is that I think Ghana is not able to put together a stronger team for AFCONs than it does for the WC since 2006. We couldn't even win AFCON 2008 on our own soil...but we did very well in WC2010. Its because the players value the WC more than AFCON....I believe that would change soon.
  • askantwi
    says: 6 years ago
    This is what really went wrong. THE GREAT KUMASI MASSACRE. Do you know why Egypt won 3 nations cup on a roll? Since the early 1990s most African players leave their county to play professional in Europe. 90% of Egypt players stay at home and play domestically. That’s why El Ahly and Zamalek has been winning the Champions league frequently. When it comes to the Nations cup, the professionals who return to play for their country don’t really play committed for fear of injury and repercutions from their european clubs. This give Egypt the advantage and allow them to triumph in the tournaments. Remember when they beat a depleted Ghana 1:0 in the nations cup finals? Ghana only consisted of mostly under 20 players in that tournament. But the WORLD CUP is different. It’s a whole new ball game. Everybody plays with all guns blazing. When this happens, Egypt has no chance with their domestic players. See the situation. Come November 19, Ghana will wallop them again in Cairo. THERE WILL BE NO BLOODSHED.
  • Dunga
    says: 6 years ago
    Hindsight eh? With hindsight, anything is possible. Even a football journalist can suddenly be transformed into a super coach alongside the likes of Wenger, Mourinho, Guardiola and co.This analysis is based purely on hindsight as should be regarded as the pure and utter tripe that it is.Ghana just got an extremely unexpected result. We should be grateful for that and not resort to the the kind of euphoria that we witnessing today.
  • EA1us
    says: 6 years ago
    Great insight, but the MIGHTY GHANA is simply BETTER!!
  • Djeniko
    says: 6 years ago
    I have always said it and it has been working for the wise coaches. When going away, adopt the chelsea vs barca/munich method. Defend! Defend! Defend! Egypt would've defended. Nigeria did that with 'small' Ethiopia. It worked. Siasia didn't heed this advice when Nig played Kenya or Angola and it backfired for him. When going away defend. I said Ghana will win by 3 nil but they passed that. Ghana is already in Brazil.
  • coffie
    says: 6 years ago
    what sort analyses be this wasn't de same egypt hu had 100% record in early qualifyin? hah it seems des guy is underating de ghana team look at their inter positional play btn essien muntari k.asamoah n ayew not to talk of wariz n gyan bet me cote di'voire ghana nigeria algeria n camaroun wil qualify
  • alfred mc-kenzie
    says: 6 years ago
    you people are joking,was it not the team that bradly used in the group stages for that 100% record that led to the egyptians all over him,when he was winning did mido try asking him a question?baseless and useless analyis,leave bradley alone and accept the fact that Ghana has a world class team especially the team that played against egypt.
  • Francis
    says: 6 years ago
    Am waiting for Nigeria vs Ghana
  • Warrior
    says: 6 years ago
    I think he I right about playing Ahmed Zaki upfront. This could have minimized the cost for Egypt because Zaki is very strong both in the air and on the ground and very pacy. Egypt could have deployed him to pressure the two panicking Ghanaian center backs. As we saw in the game the two center backs would have had a different story to tell if a very strong natural nine like Zaki was constantly on them; po are always had to bail them out to cover their hick ups. Another area where the Egyptian coach failed is trying to goal out for more away goals. Chelsea won the 2012 cl because they realized that Barcelona in the semi finals were very creative and can demolish them , so Chelsea employed the simple means, let's it back and defend and isolate Drogba in the front. This is what Bradley should have when he saw that Ghana is poised on making super attacking moves . Overall the black stars team were simply ahead of the Egyptians . I was really proud watching the game in clutches in Afghanistan and flying high my ghana colors
  • Wendell Agbo
    says: 6 years ago
    Truth of the matter is that Ghana won and it's final.Glory be to God.