Black Stars: 5 things we learned from the two games against Angola
Chris Hughton took over his first two games in charge as Black Stars’ head coach during the March international break as Ghana faced Angola in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier doubleheader.
Here are five talking points from the games against the Palencas Negras:
Baba Rahman may be our best left back after all
The FC Reading man picked up an injury and was absent from the Ghana squad that faced Angola in the doubleheader. It was another opportunity for Gideon Mensah to stake a claim for that starting spot but fluffed it. Two poor performances in Kumasi and Luanda, where he struggled both defensively and offensively, have more or less given credence to why Baba Rahman seems to have nailed down the starting position. Fans were left disappointed by Mensah’s performance, and there will be no surprises if Chris Hughton refers back to the trusted Rahman when he returns from injury.
Jordan Ayew is a coach’s dream
The case of Jordan Ayew is a very interesting one. His style doesn’t always show the obvious traits of a good attacker and has left a wrong perception on fans. However, there must be some very good value in you when you’ve been a constant feature during the last eight years in the Premier League with different teams and managers.
Chris Hughton’s deployment of the Crystal Palace man over the two games against Angola, also proved why he has been a consistent fixture in the black stars setup for years. Jordan was seen to do a number of different things over the two games, which would normally not be seen of a typical winger. But most of all his brief cameo as a number 10, in the final 15 minutes of the second leg in Luanda, won him a lot of praise and respect. His understanding of the role which has seemed alien to him during his professional career, and how well and quickly he was able to link up play was a joy to be hold.
There’s life after Andre Ayew
Andre Ayew was an unused sub during the first game and pulled out injured in the second game against Angola. The Black Stars captain who is in the twilight of his glittering career has been one of the main sources of goals for the team even in recent times. When’s player of his calibre is absent, you expect the team to suffer to some extent. However, the team seemed to function just fine without him. The desire and never say die attitude to dig deep and find goals in both games showed that other players are willing and capable of stepping up during big moments that have almost become synonymous with Andre. The signs are encouraging, especially because of the variety of the members of the squad who directly influence the game.
The team has character
The World Cup exposed some major flaws in regard to the team’s mentality. The Black Stars were seen to crumble under pressure, during tough moments – conceding multiple goals during short bursts of time through the competition. But three months after the World Cup, in these two games against Angola, a highlight of the team’s display was their mental toughness. They dug deep and kept searching for the winning goal against Angola in the first leg, in front of an increasingly frustrated full-to-capacity crowd. In Luanda, there was a clear shift in attitude, when they went down a goal, and players took responsibility and found a very well-worked equalizer. Baby steps, but the signs are encouraging.
There’s quality in the squad
A good team has a strong bench, and Chris Hughton’s side highlighted this very point. The introduction of Abdul Salis Samed and Antoine Semenyo during the first leg in Kumasi, changed the completion of the game, with the latter eventually grabbing the last-gasp winner. In Luanda, Inaki Williams’ introduction, along with Majeed Ashimeru, Joseph Painstil and Osman Bukari have Ghana a lot more attacking impetus and they combined brilliantly for the equalizer. What was evident was, there is no ideal starting xi for the Black Stars, but instead, a squad full of quality who can do a good job whenever they’re called upon, depending on the assignment.
Source: Ghana News