Ghana’s Under-20 team, the Black Satellites began their quest to repeat as champions of Africa and the World Sunday against the Young Warriors of Namibia in winning fashion. After 90 minutes, the Ghanaians had put four past Namibia without reply and have ultimately taken command of the tie. The return leg is in two weeks.
Watching the game yesterday, you got the impression that it was a men vs boys encounter or as legendary Ghanaian boxer Azumah “Zoom Zoom” Nelson once said after his fight against Jeff Fenech, a father-son affair.
The Ghanaians were clearly bigger, stronger, taller and faster. Put it simply, I would not want to be caught in an alley fight with any of them. But despite these clear advantages and the score, it was far from a convincing performance on a number of levels. The Satellites often looked disjointed and after going 2-0 up early on in the game looked disinterested. Truth be told, it seems like a tendency in our teams to go through sustained lulls when we have the upper hand. With the fans urging them on to make their advantages clear, they stumbled into the second half before winning comfortably.
When watching a game like this I like to think of the future. Many of these players have listed ages at just under 20. In four years, a few of them should logically be graduating to the senior team. So, I ask myself which players in these youth teams could make the leap to the Black Stars immediately. Which ones should we look out for as we build towards the next world cup. Which players can give some of the senior members a run for their money and make a case for selection when the qualifiers for the 2012 African Cup of Nations starts in a couple of months? Who would have caught the eye of Milovan Rajevac for what I consider his need positions moving forward; striker, left back, central defense and goalkeeper.
No one caught my eye in this regard. The forwards had poor first touches and their link up play with midfielders was awful. The left back Francis Morton and central defenders led by Karim Alhassan seemed capable but were rarely tested. Based on the one game sample size, this may be a harsh assessment. The team may continue to jell and produce more convincing performances against more credible opposition. Having said that, two players who caught my eye were two central midfielders, James Bissue and Richmond Boakye Yiadom. Unfortunately, they are not strikers and it is hard to see them breaking into the senior team with the caliber of midfielders we have.
ONE LAST POINT
I am not as familiar with this team as teams past but picking up on conversations in the stands and with further research, many of the players belong to Ghana’s premier league clubs. This begs the question of what the youth academies like Feyenoord, Red Bull are doing in feeding these youth teams. But that’s for another day.