Dodgy decisions causes Ghana loss to Portugal

Ghana’s 3-2 loss to Portugal comes as a result of Otto Addo’s questionable starting line-up. Then a controversial penalty kick ended any resistance from the Ghanaians in the match.

tactical tweaks

In the previous nine games that Addo has coached for Ghana, he has implemented a five defense against his starting XI once. Ghana loses to Japan 4-1 in the Kirin Cup semi-final using the tactic. In their last match before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Black Stars defeat Switzerland 2-0 in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The choice to use a back five against The Navigators’ dynamic and versatile attack is understandable. However, the choices in defense and midfield make the premise difficult.

The decision to place Baba Rahman in place of Gideon Mensah at left-back continues to baffle Ghanaian fans. Jokingly, Rahman has the nickname of a general in Chelsea’s “loan army”. The club sent him out on loan seven times, including his current spell at Reading.

The decision to play an out-of-form player from England’s second tier over a player who is performing well in Ligue 1 is confusing. The selection of Alidu Seidu at right-back over Tariq Lamptey and Denis Odoi is arguably Addo’s worst pre-match decision. Seidu was out of reach for him and could have received a red card for his attempted header on Joao Felix.

Decisions prove critical in Ghana’s loss to Portugal

Playing a double pivot versus a triple gives Ghana a pragmatic setup and forces Mohammed Kudus to be the only player in the middle trying to create chances. The first half has two chances missed by Cristiano Ronaldo to put his country ahead. A penalty is awarded in the 64th minute as Mohammed Salisu meets the free agent and minimal contact is made. After the match, Addo states that the referees made a mistake in awarding the penalty.

“I think you would have to ask the referee; I have no proof of that, if I had decided otherwise that someone else would take the penalty. But we were playing the ball and there was player contact. I don’t know what they were doing, I don’t know if they weren’t paying attention, I don’t know if the VAR wasn’t paying attention. If I look at that moment, it’s just amazing. If you watch the replay, we were playing the ball and it was actually a foul against them, not against us.”

Going forward

In the 73rd minute, Kudus regains the ball in the Portugal 18-yard box and shoots a low cross that catches captain Andre Ayew’s right foot to tie the game. Shortly after this, Addo decides to replace Kudus and Ayew, his two best attackers. Portugal took the lead again in the 78th minute when Joao Félix took advantage of a poor placement by Rahman in a counterattack and scored. Two minutes later, Rafael Leao scores after Lamptey is pushed up the pitch and does not come back to defend the left winger.

Osman Bukari’s header in the 89th minute made it 3-2 and gave Ghana hope. The extended overtime gives the Black Stars 10 minutes to find the tie. Bukari almost does it when he steals the ball from goalkeeper Diogo Costa but his slip prevents him from shooting on goal and Ghana fall in their opening game of Group H.

Ghana still has a chance to advance. South Korea and Uruguay suffered a goalless draw in their matchday one encounter. Addo must improve to give the Black Stars a chance.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Sven Simon

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