Earlier on in the day, West African Soccer giants Nigeria had seen off Mali 4-1, and most people were expecting another giant in the form of Ghana to see of Burkina Faso and set up a juicy clashwith its eastern neighbor, but the Stallions came along and spoiled the party.
From the first blast of the referee’s whistle, the Burkinabe exerted much dynamism and confidence and bossed majority possession. They dominated Ghana all over the pitch, but were not resourceful in front of goal.
But Ghana took the lead through a debatable penalty converted by regular shooter Mumbarak Wakaso. From then on the Black Stars came more into the game and had a few chances that better players would have savored and buried, with Asamoah Gyan being the worst culprit—having the Burkinabe keeper at his mercy, but choosing to shoot straight instead of going for an intelligent chip. No wonder he plays in the United Arab Emirates. He’s fit for that league.
The second half seemed more even, with Ghana creating better chances. But the Burkinabe also had their fair share of chances, most notably Bance, who went ahead to equalize for the Stallions.
As the second help pattered out, extra time and penalties seemed inevitable, and I was lest dumbfounded when Kwesi Appiah substituted our regular spot-kick taker and goal scorer Wakaso.
“Naive substitution” was the first thing that jumped out of my mouth. But I take those words back. Even Jose Mourihno once made such a mistake; when he substituted Mesut Ozil (a potential penalty taker) in last season’s Champions’ League semi-final clash against Bayern in a match that Madrid eventually lost on penalties.
All the same, Wakaso staying on the pitch to see out the game and take our first shootout would have been a better alternative. He could have scored to inspire confidence in the subsequent penalty takers. One then wonders what the coach was thinking—to win the match during normal time or within the extra 30 minutes? He evidently didn’t know what he was doing.
In a nutshell, Ghana was mediocre throughout the tournament, and losing to a better team shouldn’t be painful. The coach wasn’t up to scratch, and his players seemed only interested in sporting hairstyles that were more attractive than their footballing skills.
A bunch of below par players captained by a Middle East league player. We deserved to lose.
Burkina Faso was always going to be the better team, and they were.