VETERAN Coach, Josef Emmanuel Sarpong, has said the Black Stars Head Coach, Otto Addo, must be bold in his team selection and choose players based on current form and the heart for the big stage rather than getting bogged down by the reputation of his players and their past achievements.
He noted that the technical team’s focus must be on using Ghana’s international friendlies to do another assessment of the players and how well they fit into the team to ensure a strong Black Stars side capable of going into the World Cup tournament with their best foot forward.
Coach Sarpong told the Graphic Sports that the technical team and players must put Ghana’s 0-3 loss to Brazil behind them and rather focus on building a solid side ready for the big stage in Qatar in November.
“The truth is that Ghana has names who are playing well outside, but currently don't have a team which is near competitive. These friendly games will ultimately turn out positively a team in the World Cup,” he told the Graphic Sports moments after the Black Stars lost 0-3 to the Selecao of Brazil in an international friendly in Le Havre, France, last Friday.
For the former assistant coach of the national under-23 side, the Otto Addo-led technical team must prioritise form, fitness and big-match temperament over any other consideration in their team selection if the Black Stars were to perform well in Qatar.
“Selection must be done on merit and those who have the heart to perform. On a bigger stage like the World Cup, it is only players who have big hearts who must be encouraged to play,” he said.
The coach observed that the national team was overwhelmed by penetrative passes and midfield dominance by Brazil which caused Ghana to struggle to score and conceded three goals in the first half.
In analysing Ghana’s loss, he explained that the Black Stars played a system that rather suited their opponents because the midfield did not click while the defenders were outrun by the Brazilians who had a field day in the first half.
“Brazil dominated the exchanges from the blast of the whistle and the Black Stars struggled to match or impose their game on them. This initial setback made the Stars game plan not effective as the defence and midfield failed to hold onto the ball and eventually made them jittery to play as a team.
“Not much was seen of the midfield of Ghana because the Brazilians avoided playing deep in there and resorted to playing mostly on the flanks where their strength was. Also, our defence appeared unstable anytime the Brazilians attacked the area with deep or penetrative passes, which they managed to finish with ease to score three first-half goals,” he said.
On why Ghana’s midfield failed to click, Coach Sarpong said the Brazilians pressed high in the midfield and put a lot of pressure on the ball, a situation that prevented the Ghanaian midfielders to be effective on the ball and in the spaces. However, the situation changed in the second half when the Ghanaian coach brought on new players and altered his tactics.
“Ghana played well in the second half and controlled the game briefly after some changes were made in the team but the few chances that came their way went wide because the midfielders were not given the opportunity to pass to the attackers for them to translate their chances into goals,” Coach Sarpong explained.
The Black Stars will take on Nicaragua at the Estadio Francisco Artes Carrasco in Lorca, Spain, on Tuesday,