Kwesi Appiah and his boys calmed pre-match anxieties with an
assured display in Kumasi on Sunday. Four goals and three points against Sudan
meant getting Ghana’s World Cup qualification dream back on track, after the
scare that was Zambia being awarded three points and three goals. The Black
Stars cut down the point gap between themselves and the Zambians to one, and
also increased their goal tally to 11 in just three games.

The 40, 000 fans in Kumasi had their money’s worth, in a
game that brought many talking points to the fore.

Waris – Ghana’s new
man upfront
Majeed Waris was superb on the day. Maybe he did not do a
lot with the ball as much as people anticipated, as he had relatively less
access to it, but his off the ball movements and work rate was very typical of
a pure striker. The man who top scored last season’s Swedish Allsvenskan with
23 goals in 29 games had his best game in a Ghana shirt yet, after four
previous appearances that had most fans and journalists alike wondering if he
was all hype. A goal and an assist on a day he got things right dispelled the
myth that he is not up to scratch. At 22, and improving season by season, Waris
could end up hitting the back of the net for Ghana even more times than the man
who played behind him on Sunday.
Baby Jet!!
The man who played
behind him on Sunday
– who else? Ghana’s captain and Arab millionaire
Asamoah Gyan. Despite concerns over his fitness (he sustained a thigh injury on
Thursday in a friendly), Gyan was excellent in the first half, linking up well
with his new strike partner and protégé Waris. The baby Jet scored his 32nd
goal in 71 games for his country, meaning he is only a goal away from equaling
legend Abedi Pele’s tally of 33 goals for Ghana. The goal he scored, which was
Ghana’s first on the afternoon, was also his first ever goal at the Baba Yara
Stadium in 10 years since he made his debut. An eventful afternoon for him
ended with him pulling a hamstring, but he knew he had played his part. He knew
he had triggered the love part of his famous love-hate relationship with
Ghanaian fans. Gyan, who has scored 24 goals in 19 games for his club side Al
Ain this season, proved once again he’s still Ghana’s man for the goals.
Muntari – Joyful
Sulley Muntari returned for the team on a turf he played his
last game before injury. The AC Milan midfielder, who captained the side (Gyan
handed it to him out of “respect for a senior colleague”) won his 76th
cap for Ghana, a statistic that takes surprise out of the fact that he was
Ghana’s oldest most experienced leg on the pitch on Sunday. And his experience
shone conspicuously on the day. Under his leadership, the team recorded a goal
harvest, just as they did against Lesotho the last time he played (and
captained) at the same venue. Sulley, who is enjoying a great season back in
Italy, was substituted amidst applause from the fans. Pity he couldn’t get on
the score sheet, again, as he had done the last time he played.
Goal machine
Mubarak Wakaso. A name that most Ghanaians were unfamiliar
with until late last year, when Kwesi Appiah handed him a debut against Cape
Verde. Not many then could foresee just how influential he would turn out to
be. Wakaso was Ghana’s top scorer at afcon 2013, with four goals. He had scored
2 goals in three games before that tournament, and Sunday’s goal was his 7th
strike in just 10 caps. The Espanyol winger has had one of the best starts to
an international career by a Ghanaian in a long while, not only scoring goals
but also proving to be an almost flawless dead ball specialist.  And oh, the resemblance in passion and style
of play to Muntari makes him most definitely his heir apparent.
Defensive flaws
In as much as the score line portrayed a lot of positives,
there was a worrying trend amongst Ghana’s central defensive pair of Isaac Vorsah
and John Boye. Both seemed too one dimensional, choosing to live off their
genuine reputation as no-nonsense, hard tackling defenders. When they weren’t
busy being no-nonsense, they were passing the ball between themselves, back to
Dauda or hoofing it up the pitch. None of them seemed to possess the will and
ability to bring the ball from the back and actually initiate an attack.
Considering Ghana scores too many goals these days, it’s probably not a major
source of worry, but building attack from the back most certainly has more pros
than cons.

And then there was Richard Kissi Boateng, who, has to be
said, put in a brilliant shift at left back, a role which Ghana’s had
chronically struggled to find a permanent fixture for. Kissi Boateng, since his
days at Berekum Chelsea, has always loved to attack. He attacks so well – a
plus which is also, ironically, a minus. His affinity for overlapping saw him
figured out intelligently by the Sudanese, who launched incessant attacks that
left him grossly exposed for most parts of the second half. Kissi would surely
watch the game again and notice his weaknesses and being the good learner that
he is, correct them.
Kwesi Appiah – Not
going anywhere, yet
What a way to destabilize rumours that he’d be sacked after
the game if all went wrong. Kwesi Appiah, who has for the past few weeks has
had to endure speculations over a future many feel is gloomy, got most things
right on Sunday, if not everything. He grabbed the three points, and did so
with style.

Ghana under him have now scored 33 goals in 15 games, an
impressive average of two goals per game. The clean sheet at the Baba Yara was
also the 9th under his 15 game reign, a period that has seen him win
10 times, draw three times and lose twice.

The message is clear – despite all the criticisms, some of
which sound genuine, the stats favour the boss, and that remains his trump card
in a much publicized attempt waged by some journalists and fans alike to get
him relieved off his post.