Citi Sports editor, Nathan Quao, returns with his column and this week, his attention is on the Ghana Premier League Week 16, the Black Starlets’ loss to Mali in the AFCON U17 final and Arsenal’s victory in the FA Cup final.
It seems Kotoko chose a good time to get their first win in the Ghana Premier League since March. On the day the league resumed for the second round, the Porcupine Warriors found victory on the road at Tema Youth and though it was not pretty, it was very valuable.
Winning is the best thing in football whether you are on a high or you are going through a very tough spell. For Kotoko, getting that 1-0 win in Tema Youth will remind them of how good they can be and maybe that was what new coach, Steve Pollack, had been telling them during the first round break.
Kotoko’s numbers were very poor after the first 15 matches: they scored only nine goals with 6 coming at home, they traveled poorly with 4 losses on the road and there was a sense of despair.
It is very early to say that Pollack is the saviour but after listening to him a few times, I believe that he can get them going again. He fancies the simplicity of the game and he will urge them to play without any fears.
The road is long but if Kotoko’s management want to see the end of the journey, they should give Pollack time to work and Pollack must also be ready to demand a lot from the players else he will be the victim.
WAFA experienced another stumble on the road after losing 1-0 to Inter Allies in Accra. That was their second straight away loss following their 2-1 reverse against Hearts just before the end of the first round of the league.
I remember stating in my column from a few weeks back that I disagreed with WAFA coach, Klaus Rasmussen’s assertions that his team was not aiming for the league title.
I still do stand by that because WAFA have every right to go for the league title. They do not need to be held back at all. They have the right players and philosophy to get important points away from home and so, Rasmussen needs to know the difference between guiding young players through pressure and numbing their senses to glory.
They are now second to Aduana and things will get more complicated of they do not fight for more on the road.
The conversation after Ghana’s loss to Mali in the final of the U17African Championships has been one focusing on the team’s capabilities, the coach’s work and the general worry at the failure to win a football title these days.
The truth is that Ghana were second best to Mali in the final and sincerely, I found it strange. Mali were not going to be push-overs but the urgency and smartness needed to play and win a final were lacking in the Ghanaian team.
Maybe, I am being over-critical but I felt that the team could have forced penalties by scoring an equaliser. They ha chances too but they were not put away.
What is done is done already and there is some time between now and the World Cup in October to fix things. A large part of the team needs to kept because there is no need to radically change the tactical direction of the team.
However, the team will need a very good central midfielder to keep things in check when the runners like Eric Ayiah and Emmanuel Toku go up the field to find goals. The rate at which the opponents ran through the midfield was very alarming in some of the matches.
I will not call the group ‘overhyped’. They have done really well by making it to the World Cup for the first time in 10 years but the foes from the other parts of the world will take some stopping if Ghana will win its third U-17 World Cup.
All’s well for Wenger after FA Cup win
For Arsene Wenger, I bet he felt as though he had found the sunshine after a very gloomy season and beating Chelsea to win his 7th FA Cup of his time in England was probably how he prayed things would turn out.
But if there is something he should be proud of, it is how his Gunners went about their business. He may have given the plan but it was evident that his players were willing to get something for their gaffer.
Per Mertesacker was almost unrecognisable on the day. He shouted, yelled and tackled as his way of leading his players. Granit Xhaka was brilliant in midfield and he kept the usually imperious pair of Nemanja Matic and Ngolo Kante ineffective.
Sanchez was his usual best but it Ozil was ready to do a bit more off the ball and when he got the ball, he moved and passed sweetly.
I was blown away and maybe Chelsea should have been especially in the first half.
The Gunners have a tough a season ahead of them next term but if they can find these performances a bit more often, breaking into the Top Four will not be as complicated as they made it.
Special mention to ‘The Emperor’ Francesco Totti who retired from playing football on Sunday.
25 years for AS Roma. 786 appearances. 307 goals including 250 for his beloved Roma. 1 Serie A title. 2 Italian Cup titles.
His trophy haul may not leave one astounded but Totti is a legend. In the day and age where money moves players around, Totti stayed faithful to Roma and he gave everything he had to the team.
He is one player I respected so much because he revered the sport of football and he played it with sincerity.
It will be interesting to see how he fares in his new life as a director at Roma but I will be sure he will work as hard as he did on the pitch for the team.
That’s it for this week, folks.
Hit me up on Twitter @nathan_quao
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(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)