Citi Sports editor, Nathan Quao, returns with his column and this week, he talks about Ghana’s golden day in the WAFU Cup of Nations and the interesting trend of huge away wins in the Premier League.
One over the old enemy
On Friday, on the Sports Panorama programme live on Citi FM, I said that I had fears for the Black Stars B team ahead of the WAFU Cup Final with Nigeria.
The team’s starts to matches in the tournament had been slow and uncertain and that, I felt, was a very genuine concern and everyone agreed with that assertion.
The warming up of the engines in the second half eventually led to the 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the final Group A match but just like most things Ghanaian, the reaction came after much consternation.
In the final, things were different and ultimately, the players and Maxwell Konadu, in particular, proved me wrong and won 4-1. I called it 2-1 for Nigeria. Eggs on my face and I gladly accept it.
I admired the hunger showed by the players even at 1-0 up. They defended well and kept the Nigerians away .
My high point, though, was Konadu’s decision to throw on Patrick Razak when it became clear that the opponents were taking risks by going up-field for an equaliser.
The winger executed his task brilliantly. There was no need to overthink the situation. The gaps were there and he milked them very dry. The constant twisting and turning left the Nigerian defence with no option than to commit fouls and they gave Ghana two penalties.
It was a great way to end the tournament and get win number 20. Now, we must harvest the lessons and use them going forward and the biggest one is organisation and infrastructure.
The Ghana Premier League needs a great mechanism to run it. We need to understand when it starts and when it terminates so these whimsical breaks will be sprung on us.
The local game also needs great pitches. The Cape Coast Stadium turf was not super stuff, to be honest, but if all the grounds are at the standard, we will get better matches and the quality of the matches will go up a few notches.
As for the coverage from StarTimes, that riddle can only be solved by the Ghana Football Association. I will leave it at that.
But then, what is this that Maxwell Konadu is saying? The WAFU Cup erases the failure to make it to the CHAN tournament? Mr. Konadu, I totally disagree. This tournament offered you a chance to see your own folly.
We fouled up the CHAN qualifiers because we did not see its value. We used the wrong players and we got punished for that. The CHAN tournament is way bigger than the WAFU Cup and we missed that boat.
Next time, Mr. Konadu, please get it at the face time of asking. There may be no WAFU Cup to save you again.
Thumbs to Stephen Sarfo for picking up the Top Scorer’s Award and Isaac Twum for taking the Best Player’s Award. Great efforts from these players.
Premier League points in the opponents’ garden
After the dust settled on the weekend’s installment of the Premier League, which was live on Citi 97.3 FM, something interesting struck me.
5 teams took maximum points on their travels: Tottenham won at West Ham, my dear Man United got the win at Southampton, Chelsea tore Stoke apart, Watford got a 2-1 victory at Swansea, Liverpool won by the odd goal in five against Leicester.
As for Conte’s soldiers, they give me reasons to feel that backing them for the title was a good decision and Alvaro Morata showed why he was my preferred choice for the Man United front line ahead of Romelu Lukaku. Of course, Lukaku is delivering so I am happy.
But apart from the match at Stoke, all the others were very close. The home teams were unwilling to give anything away and that underlines how settled teams are becoming. Players are getting more comfortable in their roles and picking up good results is now a matter of time. Unless you are Crystal Palace.
I was relieved Man United held on to win against Southampton. That tie was the toughest of the season and it took physical, mental, emotional and tactical resources to get past the line.
We saw Man United do better in settings that would have produced a draw last season.
Man City’s thumping of Crystal Palace was expected and we cannot doubt that but Everton’s 2-1 victory at home against Bournemouth was good to observe. The Toffees pushed themselves and it was great seeing that Ronald Koeman call on Oumar Niasse who got him the winner.
Hatchet buried then after Niasse was thrown out of the team by Koeman last season.
More importantly, Everton can now think of using him as a pure striker so the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney can play off him. It will bring clarity to the team and they can push on from there.
The Premier League is always live on Citi 97.3 FM so do not miss the action.
Before I leave, Carmelo Anthony is going to the OKC Thunder? Wow!!!! That spices things up in the NBA. But how will things with Russel Westbrook go? How will they share the basketball? And how is Anthony ready to be part of the crew instead of being of the leading crew?
For me the uninitiated, I can only look on and be excited. The season starts on October 17 and I wish my favourite, Golden State Warriors, the very best. Another title? Why not?
That’s all for this week.
Hit me up on Twitter @nathan_quao