The Pharaohs have flattered to deceive in World Cup qualifiers, making their last appearance in 1990, but what must Avram Grant do to hinder them just like in 2013?
Ghana arrived in Alexandria from their camping base in Dubai on Friday, to take on Egypt in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in Group E at the Borg Al-Arab Stadium on Sunday. The hosts are in for revenge, after being humiliated by the Black Stars in a 6-1 drubbing three years ago in Kumasi to deny them qualification to the World Cup, despite picking a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture.
But the Black Stars are not the same during the days of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng even with some old faces still around. Although, the team have not been battered by any country yet, but, it is high time Avram Grant is reminded of what it means to be Ghana’s coach and especially when he goes four games without a win and conceding almost in all.
Just as Kwesi Appiah after four games without a win in 2014 was shown the exit door, Grant must be aware that Ghana’s aim of qualifying to the fourth World Cup will be in doubt with a defeat and must work towards preventing that from happening.
GRANT MUST HAVE HIS SELECTION ON POINT
“Grant is a wonderful coach and knows what he wants from his players and when to use them,” Afriyie Acquah told Suncity Radio months ago. But in the games against Russia and Uganda, it was clear that Grant lacks the ‘special eye’ to change tactics to suit his players. It took a 57th minute injury on Acquah before Agyemang-Badu was brought on to add urgency to the Stars’ game against the Cranes which brought public backlash with many insisting that he is clueless.
Acquah must partner Badu in midfield this time to cut the Pharaohs supplies from Abdalla El Said and Islam Gamal and hit them on counter attack. Wakaso can be introduced in the second-half to make use of his speed and long shots while Atsu cuts in from the franks. Grant must also show faith in young prodigy Samuel Tetteh by putting him into the fray in the absence of Asamoah Gyan to partner Jordan Ayew. The youngster has been fantastic for his club Liefering in Austrian second-tier, scoring goals for fun.
The return of Andre Ayew has painted the few days in a positive light, but the margin and manner of how the Black Stars struggled in his absence leaves a huge number of Ghanaians wanting the coach to think seriously about finding solutions without him since the West Ham United record-signing is still not fully fit and cannot guaranteed the country 90 minutes action. He may pull off in the game with any slight challenge since he is yet to hit full fitness.
BEAT CUPER FROM THE TOUCHLINE
Facing Egypt could either prove to be the best thing possible for Grant, or the worst. In a hunt for a priceless three points, the Black Stars will have to either take a big step towards proving that Grant is still the man to rely on or he will further have dirt kicked into his face by former Inter Milan boss Hector Cuper.
Ghanaians will judge him with the results, of course, but his demeanor on the sideline must be encouraging. His mood in the dugout has always been criticized by many, claiming that it is not motivating enough. Although, reports claim a section of Egyptian fans are planning to heckle him before, during and after the game but he should force a smile to motivate the millions watching back home on their television set.
SORT OUT THE DEFENCE
The Black Stars don’t concede more often but one will argue that their opponents have been one of the major reasons. However, even against Rwanda in the last round of the 2017 Afcon qualifiers, John Boye and Jonathan Mensah were exposed by Muhadjir Hakizimana. Fans have already been left sickened by the display of the two centre-backs and must up their game against the quicker forwards from Egypt. Also, with the impressive form of Mohamed Salah, Grant must prepare the mind of Baba Rahman to prevent the AS Roma winger from coming to the party. With Salah neutralise, Ghana are at least assured of a point.
Should Grant’s actions work, it will shut people up, when it doesn’t; it can blow up in his face.