Wednesday, June 2, 2010


 Ghana football writer Gary Al Smith's report on  Ghana's 4-1 loss to Holland is very interesting from an Australian perspective. Most of these international friendlies are training sessions or just warm up games. It's all prelude till the real thing, the big WC.. But RATM did not sing a tune called Know Your Enemy for nothing.

Here are the ratings for Ghana and a link to his story:

GK:Richard Kingson: 4 – Played like he was on Skelaxine (a popular type of arthritis medication). Jittery, indecisive and totally out of his depth. Disappointing, really.
 LB:Hans Adu-Sarpei: 6 – Once again, hardly lost the ball and kept his left side of the field generally safe. Only problem is his lack of pace, but it seems Ghana have no option to stick with him as his replacement is also a right-footed Rahim Ayew.
John Paintsil: 5 – The Fulham man was quiet. Didn’t do much and was symptomatic of the whole team’s first half showing. Still, a dependable soul whose starting role is guaranteed.
Isaac Vorsah: 7 – Stood tall in defense, literally and figuratively. At a point, he was playing a holding midfield role alongside Annan and Boateng and was being overworked. But he was quietly effective, calm and solid for the whole match, especially preventing Van Persie from scoring. Shows his class more and more all the time.
Lee Addy: 5 – Did his best under the circumstances yet he is a bit shaky. That said, the only thing he needs is an injection of confidence and a little inspiration from experienced defenders like Mensah.
Anthony Annan: 4 – His usual combative levels were lost today. The first half was not good for him, like for the rest of the side. Was played in a holding/mopping role with Derek Boateng, a position he’s usually comfortable in. An off-day he had, perhaps, as he allowed Sneidjer to run rings around him.
Stephen Appiah: 4 - If Rajevac declines to the use the captain against Latvia or even against Serbia, there would be very few complaints. He was overrun, outplayed and outmuscled. His inspirational and leadership qualities on the field are very much in question now. Despite his calss, it is crystal clear that Appiah is not the same player he was. When he was in Ghana a few weeks ago, his body language said he was ready for one last hurrah. Never happened today.
Sulley Muntari: 5 – Was restricted by the coach not to move forward, so his role was limited. He loves to surge forward on occasion but it was clear he had been defined as a supplier for Amoah. He could not do this because he was heavily closed down by the Dutch midfield. He still needs to be a starter because his hard tackles bring a lot to the game.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie: 3 – Where to begin? When given a starting role in front of a nation that is divided about your importance, you do not do four stepovers on every ball. On one occasion he had Amoah in his sights and the team lost a good chance because of his over-deliberation. Has shot himself in his fast-paced feet. Would be shocked if he ever gets a starting role again.
Derek Boateng: 6 – Was one of few players still on in the second half. With the right support he is able to move forward and give out the balls. But anyone who has watched him for Getafe knows he is not half the player he’s been for Ghana in his past two internationals.
Matthew Amoah: 4 – His inability to replicate his club form is baffling. For Ghana, he does not chase down lose Dutch balls in the opposing half and does not run at defenders. Unfortunately, the young Dominic Adiyiah and Prince Tagoe staked a better claim to start than he does.
Used subs:
Prince Tagoe: 5 – Not firing at all cylinders, but getting there. Desire to do the dirty work is clear. However, a lack of playing time also shows in his game as he is not as sharp as we know him to be.
Andre Ayew: 6 – One of the better players on the field after his coming. Came on at the start of the second half, with purpose. Went in for the 50-50 balls without fear. Over the past year or so, the main issue with him has been his over-deliberation; today it was just touch-and-go stuff from Abedi’s son.
Dominic Adiyiah: 4 - Came on with some spirited runs but was soon dealt with by the Dutch expreince. Even had a rare shot on goal and showed that with more international exposure, he can face off with the big boys even at his age. Looked a bit starry-eyed at times.
Kwadwo Asamoah: N/A – Came on too late to make a meaningful impact. Should he have been brought earlier for Derek? That’s open to question, as Derek was also finding his rhythm late on.
John Mensah: 6 – Came on at the start of the second half and his job to be captain (leader and inspirer) was well done. Brought immediate stability to his defense. Do I hear 23 million Ghanaians praying for him to be fit for the entire duration of the World Cup? I think you know why.
Asamoah Gyan: 6 – Heckled the Dutch backline on more than one occasion, earning himself a caution in his zeal. The goal would do a lot for his confidence. Clearly a starting role is guaranteed for him.

Coach Milovan Rajevac: 7 – The Serbian has made his point. In the first half he used a team he's not too confident in, with a few exceptions. They did not disappoint. Most of them were a sweet mistake. That's why he brought on the preferred team in the second half, to make a simple point to all of us: when he decides to drop certain ‘big boys’ in the coming games, can anyone complain?
No. The 4-3-2-1 in the first half and the 4-3-3 formations used in both halves respectively were all part of his shuffling of roles for the players. At a point in the first half, Muntari was even moved to the right while Quincy was moved to the left. Clearly trying them out.
Two sets of players have shown that to be in this team, you have to be match fit and you need regular club time.

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