Ghana put up a spirited effort against the much fancied Germans after suffering a heavy 4-0 defeat dished out by the USA. From the blast of Japanese referee, Nami Sato's whistle,Ghana fought gallantly only to succumb to the last minute heroics of German super sub,Lina Magull who scored from a Dzsenifer Marozsan peach perfect pass,to send the Germans through to the next stage of the competition.A gutted and teary eyed Ghanaian team looked on in disbelief,as a nation of broken hearts applaud their efforts.
As the German's dominated play with about 60% of ball possession,the Ghanaians hard tackles in midfield stifled the flow of the Germans game in transitional play.However, Germany's attacking line of Lena Lotzen,Dzsenifer Marozsan and Ramona Petzelberger,managed to pick apart the Ghanaian defense only to be denied goals by the incredible saves of Ghanaian goal tender,Patricia Mantey.
A closer look at Ghana's game highlights their inability to convert ball possession into goal scoring chances,poor shot/pass selection and the problematic defending of set pieces was the Achilles heel of the Ghanaians.They lacked foresight in how to exploit the lapses in the opponents play, a problem more tactical than technical.
Nigeria and CAF/FIFA technical instructor,Chief Festus Onigbinde couldn't have spelled it out better when he said "Coaching begins where teaching ends". Unfortunately most youth coaches neglect the teaching aspect of the game and so leave young players to grope in the dark.In effect barking out instructions in game situations become a useless venture.
Ghana is endowed with technical capabilities but have little or no sense of a tactical understanding of the game of soccer.This is where the teaching of the tactical concept of the game comes to play.Playing short one touch passes in small areas,exploiting spaces in wide areas,drawing opponents out of their defensive third,hold up play,off the ball runs etc. These must be taught if coaches expert players to respond to the tactical instructions they bark out from the side lines.
Although goalkeeper Patricia Mantey was brave in pulling off great saves,there is the need to improve upon her handling,distribution of the ball and her judgment calls in set piece situations.Defensive positioning in the 18 yard box when defending set pieces is another area worth paying attention to. There must be total commitment to aerial challenges in the goal area.The full backs must be encourage to involve themselves in covering the wide areas when on the attack and must be alert and aware of their defensive responsibilities at all times.In order to prevent the breach of the defensive line by opposing attackers,a compact defensive line must be maintained.
The work rate of the Ghanaian midfield during the the game against the Germans can not go unmentioned but for their inability to create goal scoring chances from open play.The engine room of Ghana marshaled by captain Mercy Myles failed to connect effectively with the forwards by exploiting the spaces created by Germans on the wide areas.There was no movement off the ball to draw the German defense out of position and most passes were played to feet instead of into space to trigger incisive runs by Florence Dadson and Candice Osei-Agyemang. Ball distribution and shot selection was sub par making it difficult for play to be switched from end to end and shots at goal to be accurate.Combination plays must be encouraged to enhance creativity in midfield.
The attacking options employed lacked the killer instinct in and around the attacking third.There was no cohesion between the two forwards which gave the German defense very little headaches although the forwards looked threatening on the occasions they caught the Germans napping in defense.
Again shot selection and judgment dogged the Ghanaian forwards.Shots at goal is highly essential but shooting erratically must be discouraged.In regards to Florence Dadson,getting the best out of her will mean playing her as a supporting striker and not as a lone striker.
Ghana won herself quite a large following after the high octane game versus Germany and an encore performance is expected against China who seem to have discovered their form after sharing the spoils with USA. Despite their inability to advance to the next stage of the competition,bowing out with a win against China will speak volumes about Ghana's future in women's soccer.The onus then falls on Ghana Football Association to invest in women's soccer so as to guarantee a successful women's soccer program.
By Rashid Gariba, Chicago USA