Tag: Ghana

Angola 2010: The African Cup of Nations

Mark Murphy is our man for the African Cup of Nations, which begins this month in Angola. Mark takes us through the runners and riders for the second most important footbll competition that will be played in Africa this year.

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A Helping Hand?

Brazil 3-0 Ghana So, you’re the coach of Ghana. Your team is great going forward, but possibly slightly vulnerable defensively. You’re playing Brazil. What would your team talk be? Would you say, “Right lads, we’ve heard all about these four fantastic players that they’ve got. What shall we do about it? Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and I think they’re all over-rated. Ronaldo. Look at him. Weighs about forty stone. Don’t worry about him. Kaka? What sort of a name is that? Must be rubbish. Ronaldinho? Far too ugly to be a proper footballer. That David Beckham. He’s good looking. That’s what a real footballer looks like. Adriano? Well, lads, I’ll put it like this – have you ever heard of a footballer called Adrian? Well, obviously there’s Adrian Mutu, but he was stuffed full of the old Bolivian marching powder all the time. See, they’re all over-rated. It’s all a big advertising campaign for Nike. So, what I was thinking was this… we’ll defend on the half-way line. They’ll keep running off-side. They can’t help it! It’s all those “Samba Skills”! They get the music stuck in their heads and they can’t actually control their legs. It’s all programmed into them before they go abroad. I can’t believe no-one thought of this before! It’s so simple it’s brilliant! One more thing. Strikers – if you get into...

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Czech Mate

Czech 0-2 Italy / Ghana 2-1 USA You have to respect the Italian fans. They’re the only set of fans in the whole of the World Cup that are even more pessimistic than England’s. They dropped two points against the USA (whose sole tactic appeared to be kick the Italians very hard), and the country was plumetted into depression. There was nothing really to base this on, of course. They had been unfortunate (the sort of own goal they conceded happens to any team once in a decade), and, on balance, it was a match that they deserved to win. All Italy really needed was a point, so why did they decide that this would be the team that would become the first Italian not to reach the group phases since 1974? This is, after all, an Italy team that hasn’t lost a World Cup match in ninety minutes since 1986. Incredible, but true. They needn’t have panicked, of course. The Czechs had put in real Jekyll & Hyde performances against Ghana and the USA respectively. A team that had gone from one being talked about to reach the quarter-finals (or possibly to go further) was suddenly in trouble. Their confidence had been shot to pieces by the Ghana match and, by half-time, they were as good as on their way home. Materazzi’s header from a corner (from which...

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Czeched Out

Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana The rest of the day was taken up with results that no-one could or would have predicted. I know it sounds like excuses, but consider this: Ghana, whilst they had showed flashes of inspiration against Italy, hadn’t shown that they had anything like the defensive nous to deal with the likes of Thomas Rosicky, Pavel Nedved, et al. The Czechs, however, had turned in one of the performances of the first round of matches against the USA. People were talking about them possibly going all the way. There is no question that the Czechs were outplayed. Had it no been for Petr Cech, it could have been five or six. But it wasn’t. It was a bad day at the office for the Czech defender Ujfalusi, whose error gifted Asamoah Gyan to open the scoring just after a minute in. In the second half, he was red-carded for bringing down Gyan (although the referee didn’t appear in any hurry to send him off, there was a good two-minute wait while he calmed down protests and, mystifyingly, booked Gyan for taking the penalty too quickly. It was second time lucky for the Czechs. Having scored with his first penalty, Gyan hit the post. And, yes, the yellow card keeps him out of their final group match. Muntari scored a near perfunctory second goal with twelve minutes...

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Ghana To The Dogs

Ghana 0-2 Italy Italy. You never know quite what to expect, do you? They’re capable of getting knocked out by the best or the worst teams in the tournament, but they’re also capable of beating them. This evening’s match rounded off a trio of outstanding matches today. Having basked in the warm glow of Australia’s sheer delight at proving themselves on the world stage for the first time, and taken an enormous amount of pleasure from a Czech performance that thoroughly justifies their pre-tournament hype, I was wondering what tonight’s match between the unpredictable Italians and the near-unknown Ghanaians might bring. The answer: an open, entertaining match with two teams committed to attack, one outstanding goal, one terrible defensive error and with a huge question mark left at the end of it. So, to address these points in order. Both teams came out fully expecting to attack, attack, attack. It looked more likely to pay benefits for Italy – particularly from corners, as the Ghanaian goalkeeper Kingston appeared not to have practiced catching crosses, or indeed at voyaging much more than two or three inches from his line. Whilst the Italians controlled much of the play, Ghana broke exceptionally quickly, and looked dangerous going forward. What they had in common with the other “developing” football nations was two drawbacks – the elusive “final ball”, and, when forward in greater...

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