First of all, I despise conditional tenses as much as I abhor conditional clauses but just this one time, I feel it’s apt to begin an article with one.
Hearts turned a victory into what feels like a defeat despite sharing a point in their game against Ashgold on Monday. But, here it comes, but there’s a lot of positives the Phobians can take away from this 2-2 draw encounter.
Before I highlight the positives, let me look at the negatives from our encounter with the Miners.
Our in-game management let us down on the day. Hearts took a deserving lead only to gift Ashgold the equalizer just after the restart. And the same thing repeated itself in the dying embers of the game. I felt it coming the moment coach went for a like-for-like substitution when Kojo Obeng got injured and was replaced by Victor Aidoo. Fatawu or Sewornu would have made a better introduction at that key moment of the game. Hearts had the lead. And throughout the day, it’s very clear only two players from Ashgold were a danger to us in the final third — Hans Kwoffie and Yaw Arnold (Annor). Sewornu could have freed one of Nuru or Alhassan in defense. Or perhaps Fatawu could have doubled up with Ovouka to foil the advances of Annor. But it didn’t happen that way. Instead, we went for the jugular even though we were already cruising to victory. But this again is all in the beautiful place called hindsight.
Secondly, we missed so many chances and gave away a lot too. So those were the negatives.
But the positives are way more than the negatives. For starters, we did not look like we lacked match fitness at all despite being behind all the teams in the league due to the COVID situation in our team.
If Ashgold had a slight advantage, they only looked sharper but certainly not fitter than our boys throughout the game. There’s a period in the closing stages when our lateral defenders stole balls from the Ashgold attackers with so much agility that you’d find it hard to believe we were past the 85-minute mark. And credit must go to the technical team for conditioning the boys so well.
Also, we created so, so many chances. Obeng took his two goals very well. He’s opportunistic — and at the right place at the right time — for the first but he had to tower over his marker to steer home his second following a sumptuous cross from returnee Patrick Razak.
In attack, we were very exciting. The front three of Razak, Obeng, and Afriyie took up very good positions but all three missed glaring chances in the game. The positives is that we are creating chances but we need to be better composed in attack. You can clearly see this is a work in progress and they will definitely get better with more games.
At the end, some said he did not deserve the MOTM. Yet, that skill to skin the Ashgold defender and that g-spot finding cross which Obeng headed home was the most orgasmic play of the entire Ghana league season. Don’t forget Razak had been inactive for some time but boy he played his heart out for the team both in attack and in retreating to help his right back.
Yes, Obeng is obnoxious to defenders. He could have bagged a hat-trick but do not turn a blind eye on some of the good things he did in the game. The talent is there. That has never been in doubt. Like all strikers, he will miss chances but what excites me is that he did not appear down because of the easy chance he spurned. And he took his second goal so so well. The boy has it but he will need to double it up with hard work for the rest of the world to see his superb talent.
YIE, AFRIYIE IS SAM AFUM MARK 2.
Remember that skillful, profligate boy who became goal-king in 2009/10? Yeah, I see shades of AFUM in every single move Afriyie makes. He’s always in good positions. The chances always fall to him. But then he seldom takes them. There’s no point in being hard on the youngster, we just have to encourage him. He needs encouraging and psyching up all the time. He needs to know he can play without fear or scathing attacks if he misses chances. When that goes into his head, he can be more comfortable and calm in front of goal.
Our midfielders had moments when they look absolutely good and then other periods where they appeared non-existent. It’s only the first game of the season and I believe they can only get better as a unit. They were not out-matched but certainly the sharpness of our opponents made them second to most of the play in the middle zone.
DEFENDED INDIVIDUALLY NOT AS A UNIT
Our lateral defenders, Ovouka and ginger Larry, looked amazing on the front foot. However, our central defender were playing for the first time in the league. Nuru has also been out for a long time and although he did not put a foot wrong, you could tell his communication with Alhassan was not perfect. They were stretched a number of times but that’s because our lateral took high positions simultaneously when we attacked and it ended up exposing the center backs.
They looked disappointed with the second goal but they will also have to improve their communication.
The positives far outweigh the negatives. This team can only get better. The technical team communicated as a unit throughout the game and it’s very nice to see. We will have to vary our tactics and we also have to remember that it should not always be pretty or beautiful. We need to mix it up. Better luck in our next game.
By Anwar U. Larry