RELIEF AT THE DEATH

Whew!!! That would have hurt. Ghana overcame a one goal deficit late against England Tuesday to earn a draw and send fans from London to Labone into a frenzy. Asamoah Gyan’s 91st minute strike caused many to replicate his own ‘Bako no nooo’ dance moves and harkened back to some of our most memorable World Cup moments.  This was how much avoiding defeat to England- a B team no less- meant to Ghanaians the world over.

This was like a pick up game of football. As hyped up as this game was there was no trophy or berth in a cup final at stake. Leaving pride. In the end no one had bragging rights. Both teams could fall on easy excuses; no full strength squads, too many games within a short period of time.

England dominated the early proceedings exposing Ghana’s Lee Addy in the process. Despite this, the Stars had the first clear chance, Dominic Adiyiah racing clear of the English defense after a neatly worked move leaving Joe Hart to beat. He couldn’t. Adiyiah was in the right place on another occasion sneaking in far post from a Sulley Muntari free kick. Again, Hart was not to be beaten producing a great reflex save.  Ghana dodged bullets too. Ashley Young stole in behind the Ghanaian defense and with an empty goal in front of him outdid Adiyiah and missed rattling the crossbar. 

The Ghanaians began to settle even though you got the sense that the through ball on Addy’s side was always available and the goal would be engineered from that side of the pitch. It came through Andy Carroll -the next great England striker- who finished sweetly with his left foot.

After a string of changes at half time both personnel wise and tactically, the Stars upped their levels and increased the pressure on the English. The Ghanaians brought in Daniel Opare, Jonathan Mensah, Dede Ayew among others in second half. By pressing up top, the English had little time on the ball. Unfortunately, the Ghanaians were not able to do much with increased ball possession. Asamoah Gyan had a couple of half chances but did not even force saves out of Hart. With the game winding down and the English inching slowly towards a victory, Gyan stepped up. Apparently unsure of his movements, he beat Joleon Lescott with a neat piece of skill and confidently finished with his left foot.

In between the start and final whistle, there was the booing of Danny ‘Judas’ Welbeck who decided he was going to play for the English instead of his parents’ countries. Good luck to him. Happily, GFA officials have ended their chase. My take is there are other Ghanaians who are more than ready to play for the country. That said, I also agree with former Dutch international George Boateng, a player who knows what it is like to be pulled in two directions.

The game was useful for both sides. Goran Stevanovic learned about Sulley Muntari’s defensive liabilities (something Sunderland is gradually finding out and Rajevac found out over time), Lee Addy’s inadequacies at the left back position(bad positioning and lack of speed), Derek Boateng’s  reinvention as a defensive midfielder ( albeit a poor man’s Essien or Annan), Dominic Adiyiah’s speed and movement off the ball and more. Capello also learned that his team B could hold its own.

The friendly may have further cemented Ghana as a top side and a good test for more established football powers when they need a test. So cue Argentina, Brazil, Germany and I could go on.

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