The Black Stars beat the Warriors of Zimbabwe in Harare, to send Ghana top of Group G. However results from South Africa who face Ethiopia could shake up the group again.
Thomas Partey’s free kick in the first half was all the Black Stars needed to override a stubborn, yet toothless Warriors.
The performance was far from flattering yet at this point, it is only results which matter and here are five things we picked out from the game.
Milo is Back
The game was Milovan Rajevac’s second since his return as Black Stars head coach. His first game which took place in Cape Coast, was the return fixture of the Harare encounter, and saw the Black Stars run out 3 – 1 winners.
That game saw the Black Stars repeat certain circumstances from the Serb’s first spell. Kudus scored very early in the game, and Dede Ayew scored a late goal to seal Ghana’s win. The timing of the goals in Cape Coast directly mirrored a regularity in the Serb’s first tenure.
In Milo’s first stint, the Black Stars recorded six 1–0 score lines in 28 victories. Out of those six victories, 33.3% of the goals came in the dying minutes of the game. Meaning, the Black Stars for 66.6% of games, had to defend goals which sometimes came as early as in the first minute, and same happened in Cape Coast.
In Harrare, the Black Stars repeated yet another Milo trait. After Partey’s goal in the 31st minute, the Black Stars focused on defending their goal for the entirety of the first half.
Also just as it happened with Kwadwo Asamoah, who played in the hole behind the striker in Milo’s 4-2-3-1, Mohammed Kudus was given the license to make attempts from range when he deemed fit.
The Ajax midfielder seems to be operating a role similar to Kwadwo Asamoah’s 10 years ago.
Yiadom will bring stability
In Milo’s first two games, he has opted to play Daniel Amartey as a right back. Prior to the double header versus Zimbabwe, Milo called up Andy Yiadom and Philemon Baffour as Ghana’s right-backs.
However Andy Yiadom had to pull out of the squad due to injury. His withdrawal suggested Baffour was going to start Ghana’s two games but the Dreams FC player did not feature in the first fixture, and even failed to make the squad in the second.
Amartey playing as a right back definitely revealed it to be a position the Leicester City defender does not feel comfortable in. Despite the team faring well in other components of the game, in midfield especially, Zimbabwe did their best to exploit Ghana through the right.
The penalty won in Cape Coast came after spreading play to the right and in Harare, Amartey had to deal with torrents of attacks down his flank. The center-back did well to hold his own, but a natural right-back in Andy Yiadom will definitely make the Black Stars more complete against more difficult opposition like South Africa.
Kudus the future
In Ghana’s two games versus Zimbabwe, Kudus served as the central nexus looking to link midfield and defense. Despite operating in the number 10 role of a 4-2-3-1, the midfielder often dropped a little deep into midfield to help the Black Stars buildup.
In situations where he did not drop, he picked up intelligent spaces between the lines of the Zimbabwean defense.
Amongst Ghana’s more attacking players, Kudus and Kamaldeen Sulemana were the most proactive and looked to create danger out of nothing.
Kamaldeen Sulemana proved to be a nuisance for Zimbabwe. The winger’s complex approach and directness made him a constant threat. His relationship with Baba Rahman who tried to create extra problems for Zimbabwe’s defense with underlapping and overlapping runs was also a plus for the Black Stars.
However on a night with a bumpy pitch and a stop-start mood to the game caused by Egyptian referee, Mohamed Amin Mohamed Omar Amin, the Black Stars failed to gain end product from their left flank.
At this rate, Sulemana is likely to lock-down the left-wing spot for himself – even under the watch of a coach who doesn’t handover permanent spots.
After impressing in a cameo at Cape Coast, Benjamin Tetteh went cold in Harare. A case could be made for the striker however, as the Black Stars never really got into their groove.
The worrisome patch from Jordan Ayew will also cause some headaches for Rajevac, who relied a lot on his strikers, Matthew Amoah and Asamoah Gyan in that first spell.
Milo has been off to a much desired start since his return, and will be hoping Ethiopia will do him a favour as they face South Africa. The Black Stars will retain top spot if South Africa fail to win.