Date: January 19th, 2015
Venue: Estadio de Mongomo
Time: 18:00 (CAT)
Match Result: Ghana 1-2 Senegal
Goal Scorers: 1-0, Andre Ayew 14’ (Pen); 1-1, Mame Biram Diouf 58’; 1-2, Moussa Sow 90’
The GSV Top Class Award
Very often in a football game do we see a team fail to impose themselves on an encounter and start to blame the gaffer for his side’s lack of thrust or direction, yet Alain Giresse earned his bread during the halftime break and his team rallied to overturn a 1-0 deficit with a performance that lead to them snatching all three points in a game Ghana felt they had at least done enough to draw. The tactical switch of playing with his backline sitting deeper, inviting the Ghanaians to run in behind them expending energy early, and employing Mame Biram Diouf alone upfront while benching star striker Papiss Demba Cisse paid of eventually as his side won the game without Cisse while Diouf scored the equalizing goal and had a hand in the winner for The Lions of Teranga. The gaffer knew that the opposition could not maintain their high octane game in the heat, he instructed his charges to absorb the pressure and allow the Ghanaians to run themselves into the ground; this tactic reaped fruit late in the 1st half as Ghana begun to lose some steam and they were literally unable to turn up in the second as they had already shifted through their gears way too early. Alain Giresse deservingly walks away with the GSV Top Class award, but one wouldn’t be remiss to think he wouldn’t mind sharing it with his striker Mame Biram Diouf, a man who repaid his gaffer’s trust in him with a big performance after spending large parts of the 1st half chasing down hopeless causes and looking isolated upfront.
The GSV Class Clown Award
The entire Ghanaian side should deservedly be handed the GSV Class Clown Award after literally only playing football for 30 minuets before changing down in gears and gifting the Senegalese side a route back into the game. Senegal stepped up their efforts exponentially after being overrun in midfield by a rampant Ghanaian offensive effort for large parts of the 1st half, but a lack of game management from the youthful Black Stars will have Avram Grant asking questions of his side. It may have been a learning curve for many of the young lads, but the inability to complete passes and dictate proceedings while in the lead is unforgivable for players of their ilk at this level. Some of the energy used for celebrating their early goal and running in behind their opposition’s defensive line could have come in handy late in the 2nd half when their side was under pressure and in need of a few transitions to put their opposition away. Many had backed Ghana to win this encounter comfortably, their over confidence may have cost them valuable points in a group where anybody has the ability to defeat anybody; for their inability to show the necessary composure to close off the match or at the least, gain a point from it, the entire Ghanaian side has earned themselves the GSV Class Clown Award.
The Grand Stand View
The age old cliché, “it was a game of two halves’ may be overstated in our football fraternity; yet we truly encountered one where one side allowed the other to play all the football in the first stanza before fully giving them a working over in the second period. The aerial bombardment from Senegal was handled well by Ghana in the 1st half, yet they elected to defend set pieces extremely deep in their own box against a much more physically imposing side and that allowed Senegal to grow in confidence before gaining the upper-hand in the tie. With all the offensive talent Ghana have at their disposal, its worth noting that the absence of a vocal leader defensively was clearly evident as the more attack minded players continually wanted the ball played forward when they could have had it played around the defence and midfield, drawing the opposition out of their set shape, before launching methodical and well orchestrated attacks that would result in them conserving energy while dictating proceedings. Senegal, on the other hand were a team that executed their game plan very well and showed that a smash and grab victory can always be possible when a side defends with solidity and ensures that they aren’t totally outplayed even when the opposition are plying on the pressure. Both sides still have a lot in their lockers and it will be entertaining to watch how they approach the next two group fixtures, one thin is for sure, football will continue to be the winner in this amply titled group of death.