The Ghanaian U23 team, known as the Black Meteors, and the hosts of the U23 AFCON tournament, Morocco, have begun their campaign with victories, placing them at the top of Group A.
Ghana faced a tough battle against Congo but managed to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory despite a late rally from their opponents. On the other hand, the young Atlas Lions of Morocco staged an impressive comeback to defeat Guinea.
As both teams look to maintain their winning momentum, their upcoming match holds significant importance, with a victory guaranteeing a spot in the semi-finals.
In order for Ghana to secure a win against the host nation, there are three key areas that must be addressed and improved upon.
Sports Brief takes a closer look at these crucial aspects that Ghana needs to focus on to maximize its chances of success against Morocco:
1. Get the starting lineup correct
Ghana found themselves rescued by a decisive substitution in the second half during their match against Congo.
Emmanuel Yeboah, who entered the game from the bench, played a pivotal role by scoring two goals and providing an assist, ultimately leading his team to a 3-2 victory on Sunday.
Coach Tanko deserves credit for his astute decision-making, but there is little room for error when facing Morocco.
The Black Meteors cannot afford to make the same mistake with their starting lineup.
The weight of an entire nation rests on Morocco’s shoulders, and any missteps on the part of the Black Meteors in team selection will not be easily forgiven.
Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, the former Accra Hearts of Oak attacker, faced criticism for his below-par performance, while Sylvester Simba failed to impress.
As Ghana pursues a spot in the semifinals, Tanko may be tempted to make adjustments to the lineup to address these concerns and ensure a stronger showing against Morocco.
2. Address concentration lapse
Coach Ibrahim Tanko expressed his disappointment with his team’s lapse in concentration, resulting in conceding two goals within a minute during their opening match.
He acknowledged the need to address this issue promptly before their second Group A encounter against hosts Morocco, per Ghanafa.org.
The technical team, including the former Borussia Dortmund forward, is fully aware of the defensive vulnerabilities observed in Ghana’s performance against Congo.
The young Atlas Lions will likely aim to exploit these weaknesses.
Given the agile abilities of Abde Ezzalzouli, it becomes crucial for Ghana to maintain unwavering focus throughout the entirety of the match, including any additional time, in order to secure a victory against the host nation.
3. Put defence under lock & key
According to the old adage in football, “Attack wins you games while defence wins you tournaments.”
In the thrilling five-goal encounter between Ghana and Congo, the Black Meteors struggled to assert their defensive authority, resulting in lapses that cost them two goals.
Ahead of their upcoming match against the host nation, Ghana’s defensive backline, consisting of David Oppong Afrane, Terry Yegbe, Aaron Essel, and Edmund Arko-Mensah, must step up and deliver their best performance.
The home crowd, acting as the enthusiastic 12th man, will undoubtedly spur on the Moroccan team in what promises to be a monumental clash.
While the backline often bears the blame for conceding goals, the midfield and attack should also be held accountable. Coach Tanko needs to carefully select his midfield combination, ensuring they play a proactive role both on and off the ball.
Any lackadaisical approach to defending, no matter the position, will be duly punished by a formidable Moroccan side. Ghana must be fully aware of this and strive to exhibit strong defensive resilience throughout the match.