I just watched the Black Stars of Ghana play the Latvian national team in the team's final friendly before the start of the Mzansi Mundial, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa which starts June 11. After the news of Michael Essien missing out due to injury, Sulley Muntari being doubtful, Bra Laryea Kingston left behind at Kotoka, and the poor performance against Holland where we lost 4-1, many Black Stars fans were worried. I wasn't but I believed we had to do and prepare better. After this game against Latvia, I have great confidence. The boys are gewd! They've always been. They have to believe that "Aha yɛdɛ o, beebia awu! Ka sɛ vim, vim! I am excited for the World Cup, the Black Stars will shine and do us proud.
The Black Stars played with some swagger in this game. Hey, I know it is Latvia, but this is the kind of the game they needed. They bossed the game, had some slick passing, created chances, etc. We only scored one goal, and that was by a substitute, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie in the dying embers of the game. I think the coach started a great line-up and I was happy with his changes. We got to see Kevin-Prince Boateng play and he was great too. Asamoah Gyan was robbed of a goal too.
I think Milovan Rajevac named a great 23 man squad which is Goalkeepers: Richard Kingston (Wigan, England), Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Stephen Ahorlu (Hearts of Lions). Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Basle, Switzerland), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea), John Mensah (Sunderland, England), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek, Egypt), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany), John Pantsil (Fulham, England), Jonathan Mensah (Granada, Spain). Midfielders: Dede Ayew (Arlese Avignon, France), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Italy), Stephen Appiah (Bologna, Italy), Anthony Annan (Rosenborg, Norway), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan, Italy), Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (Al Sadd, Qatar), Derek Boateng (Getafe, Spain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth, England). Strikers: Prince Tagoe (Hoffenheim, Germany), Asamoah Gyan (Rennes, France), Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan, Italy), Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda, Holland)
I think this should be our starting line-up in case Sulley Muntari is fit. Kingston; Inkoom, Vorsah, John Mensah, Sarpei; KP Boateng, Annan, K. Asamoah, Muntari; Tagoe, Gyan. We should play a 4-4-2 with the ability to switch to a 4-3-3. I am only talking about the switch because Milovan seems to like playing Tagoe on the wing, so when that happens we can switch Muntari to be a 3rd forward. Milovan has been playing 4-5-1 in the friendlies but I just don't like Tagoe as a winger. He should be the striker. He can't cross, dribble or run.
Richard Kingston is not match fit but he's still assured. We can't throw Daniel Adjei into the lions' den yet. Kingston is still better and he'll give the defence confidence. John Mensah played 60 minutes against Latvia and didn't get injured so he's good to go. The Rock of Gibraltar is back ;-) He'll play in the heart of defence alongside Vorsah. These two guys have to score from a header from a set-piece in the world cup. Use your height, folks. I still pick Hans Sarpei over Lee Addy. Sarpei is more experienced and can do more of the same things. John Paintsil is experienced too but Inkoom has a lot of big games under his belt. He can defend and cross better.
Kwadwo Asamoah is going to be our star and I wish he was wearing the #10 jersey. But with Stephen Appiah around, that won't happen. At least, Asamoah will start. Anthony Annan will also be key, he had an awesome game against Latvia. I really like Andre Ayew too. He does hold unto the ball a lot, but he's becoming a maestro. He alonside Quincy, will be our super-subs. Quincy is a special player for us and he can change games in minutes. But because he cannot defend, he should be used in spurts. Asamoah Gyan is balling these days and after doing well in France, his confidence is high. He can definitely play the lone striker. Matthew Amoah should not sniff much playing time, I like Adiyiah better. More goals, Black Stars, more goals.
We need to stop setting those stupid high-line offside traps. John Mensah should desist from doing so and we should man-mark even if we set these traps. We can't afford to lose concentration or be indisciplined with the ball in our own half. If that happens, we should have numbers behind the ball. Moving forward, we should let those who can cross the ball cross the ball. These people are Muntari and Inkoom.
Before the start of the 2006 World Cup, many Black Stars' fans were worried about our preparations. We had had below-par friendlies. But I believed that when the boys camped together and built chemistry, they'll do well. And we saw how they made Afria proud in 2006. This is why it's good that Bra Laryea wasn't selected. He could have disturbed the chemistry in camp. The boys have been together and I know they are shiing jama at this very moment waiting to go do Ghana and Africa proud. They need the fans to believe with them and support them in prayer.
I like our chances at this Mundial. Obviously, we are going into the tournament on the back of a win and should start off with a win too. Serbia's game will be tricky, I expect it to be a close and packed encounter but we have the goods to pull off a win. If we start that way, there's no telling how well we will do because our confidence will keep on building.
"God bless our homeland, Ghana ei! Nkunimdie yɛ yɛn deɛ a!
Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever! Osee...
Osee, osee, Black Stars ei, forward ever!"