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Otto Addo Hints At Mass Changes For Nicaragua Friendly Match Tonight



Otto Addo Hints At Mass Changes For Nicaragua Friendly Match Tonight

Black Stars head coach, Otto Addo, has given hints the Black Stars could have a new look in their pre-World Cup friendly with the Los Pinoleros of Nicaragua on Tuesday evening.

Ghana’s starting team versus Brazil in their last friendly sparked controversy across social media and numerous football communities, as Addo started Cremonese forward, Felix Afena-Gyan as striker with captain, Andre Ayew deployed in midfield.

The team have since been in Spain, where they held a final training session on Monday ahead of Tuesday evening’s game. However, after the loss to Brazil, the gaffer, indicated he had ‘learnt a lot’ about his players, and coupled with fitness doubts of a few key players, the Black Stars could look different when they line up against Nicaragua.

“We are using these matches to try a lot of things – not only the players, also on systems. We have to find it together, this is very important for us as a team. We have new players to integrate – a whole lot of things, and I also want to use these games to give players a platform to show themselves. I am not worried, we have to take the right conclusions from every match and prepare for the World Cup, that’s the most important thing,” Addo said to the press ahead of the game.

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It was not until the second half versus Brazil, the Black Stars carried an offensive threat. The Brazilians’ very-offensive approach plus Ghana’s poor defensive application meant the Samba boys submerged the Black Stars under pressure, consequently scoring three in forty minutes.

And coming up against the Los Pinoleros, an encounter Addo has described as ‘less difficult‘, he is expecting Ghana carries more attacking threat.

“We want to have a lot of connections, it’s a different game. We are favourites so it demands different things from us, and we trained and spoke about it in the last days. So hopefully we can see a lot of offensive patterns in the game.”

How should Ghana approach Nicaragua?

After the second-half versus Brazil which saw the Black Stars adjust to a 3-4-1-2, many have called on the Black Stars technical handlers to make the approach a main-say going forward. However, this is a game where the Black Stars’ more front-foot approach with two attacking midfielders will work, and Addo admitted same in the Nicaragua pre-match press conference.

“It’s a different game, this game we are the favourites so it demands different things from us.”

Ghana, versus Brazil, lined up in a 4-3-3 – Addo playing his usual double 8s system, and it is the same approach which the Black Stars could start in versus Nicaragua. What will make the difference this time though, will be the profiles named in the lineup.

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Daniel-Kofi Kyereh replacing Dede Ayew in the number 8 role will have Ghana start with two of their most technically gifted midfielders, as Mohammed Kudus could be one of the first names on the team sheet. In the holding midfield role, Elisha Owusu could be a more pronounced option to Baba Iddrisu, who for the Black Stars has often shown some weakness on the ball.

Although Owusu has played only two games this season – after recently making an injury return, he boasted of better passing statistics as compared to that of Iddrisu’s last season. While Iddrisu completed 80% of his attempted passes, Owusu, recorded an 87% completion rate.

As admitted by Addo, the Black Stars are favourites for this game, and it is expected much of the game will be played in Nicaragua’s half. Last season, Owusu completed 82% of attempted passes in the opposition half, while Iddrisu managed 72%.

With Alexander Djiku a doubt due to injury, Mohammed Salisu partnering Daniel Amartey will not only be a mean partnership but will also offer the Black Stars more ball progression on the left. Meanwhile, Osman Bukari could replace Kamaldeen Sulemana who failed to impress versus Brazil. Inaki Williams starting over Felix Afena-Gyan should be a no brainer and Jordan Ayew will most likely start.

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These new adjustments will also help the Black Stars maintain their attacking shape of a 3-1-4-2, as Odoi can tuck in as a 3rd centre-back with Bukari holding width on the right.

A converse attacking approach the Black Stars can adopt will be to have a double pivot of Kyereh and Owusu. Jordan can take a new role, roaming in the half-space with Kudus as double 8s, shifting the Black Stars into a new shape of 3-2-4-1.


Besides these, there are many other approaches Addo can use versus Nicaragua. For instance, instead of playing Odoi, a more traditional fullback can be deployed to keep the width, while a different profile of a right winger is deployed.

Nevertheless, this is a game the Black Stars will have to make a statement, by scoring nothing short of three goals.


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If The Players Are At The Same Level As In Previous Games We Will Win – Otto Addo



If The Players Are At The Same Level As In Previous Games We Will Win – Otto Addo

Ghana head coach, Otto Addo, says the Black Stars could be walking away with all three points if the players deliver the same performances as they have in the previous two games.

The Black Stars head into the final game needing to avoid defeat to stand a chance of progressing to the Round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Ghana lost to Portugal in their opening game before overcoming a late scare from South Korea to register a win in their second game.

Delighted with the fighting spirit of the team, Addo has urged his players to keep the same momentum when they face Uruguay at the Al Janoub Stadium on Friday, December 2.

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“I believe [Uruguay] don’t have a choice. They have to win, so I don’t think they have a choice playing more defensively,” he said during his press conference ahead of the game.

“We expect them to press high, to try to force and dictate the game. They know that a draw is not good enough for them. Surely there is no option than to attack.

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“I believe it is also a chance for us because there will be gaps in their defence. We have to be strong. Surely we have to use the gaps which they will automatically leave and try to score.

“It’s going to be tight and tough just like the other matches at the World Cup but I am very confident if the players are at the same level as the last two games we will win.”

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The game is scheduled for a 3PM kickoff with live telecast on Joy Prime TV.


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Ghana Football: How To Dribble Around Nationality Rules



Ghana Football: How To Dribble Around Nationality Rules

The definition of a Ghanaian is very strict for those wanting to qualify to stand as a member of parliament. If you have ever carried a passport or national identity of any other country apart from Ghana, be ready to be subjected to long scrutiny in the courts.

An MP once not only lost his seat, but was even jailed because he could not prove he had renounced a previous British citizenship before he filed his papers to be elected into parliament.

A current MP has just been cleared by the High Court and deemed to have been legitimately elected, after almost two years of litigation, as the court found she had renounced an earlier Ivorian citizenship.

Yet another MP is still struggling to be allowed to stay on after a court found he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship before standing and getting elected.

And yet, look at what is happening in Qatar, where carrying the passport of another country poses no hindrance to wearing the Ghana colours and playing for the Black Stars.

Black Stars fans in Qatar dressed up in the stadium for the match against South Korea on 28 November 2022
Ghanaian fans are praying the Black Stars defeat Uruguay on Friday to make it through to the next round

Indeed, you do not need to have been born in Ghana, ever visited the country or speak any of the languages.

If you play good football and catch the eye of the Ghanaian coach, that is quite enough, as long as you have some ancestral tie to the country.

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We do not have the money to lure athletes to change their nationality to compete wearing our national colours as some Middle Eastern countries are able to do.

But years of travel by Ghanaians have ensured that there are generations of young people around the world who can claim a link to Ghana through their parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts.

From underhand to everyday

I have been asking myself why I was so outraged by the Zola Budd incident back in the 1980s when a young, white middle-distance South African woman was given a British passport to enable her to participate in British colours at the Los Angeles Olympics.

Her claim to British nationality was said to be through a grandmother and it allowed her to compete at a time when South Africa was banned from international sport because of its racist policy of apartheid.

It all felt so underhand and contrived in those days. Now changing nationality for sporting convenience is an everyday occurrence and does not make headlines.

Black Stars player Inaki Williams looks at a ball during a match against South Korea in Qatar - 28 November 2022
Inaki Williams plays for the Black Stars while his younger brother plays for Spain

Probably the most spectacular example in the Black Stars team in Qatar is Inaki Williams, or the “Bilbao-born Inaki Williams” as the news agencies insist on tagging him.

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Of course he is Ghanaian and the fact that his younger brother Nico is playing for Spain does not make the blindest bit of difference.

Some might recall that this is not the first time there are two brothers playing at the World Cup, where one plays for the Black Stars and the other for a foreign team. Remember the Boateng brothers? While Kevin-Prince Boateng was in the Ghana team, his brother Jérôme played for Germany against the Black Stars in 2014.

For us here in Ghana it is not the number of sudden Ghanaians playing for the Black Stars that we are excited about. The talking-point really is the sheer number of players in foreign teams who could equally be playing for Ghana.

There is a Cody Gakpo playing for the Netherlands. Nobody needs to tell you that with a name like Gakpo, he belongs among the Black Stars.

Then I heard of a Richie Laryea in the Canadian team – he could be representing the Black Stars and signing autographs for children in Accra.

And why is someone called Ethan Ampadu, part of the Welsh Red Dragons recently knocked out by England, playing for anyone but Ghana?

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Just as there can be no dispute but that Mohammed Muntari, who made history by becoming the first player to score for Qatar at the World Cup, should be playing for Ghana, the country of his birth.

They all must have their reasons for not opting for the Black Stars, but the word out here is that a purely diasporan Ghanaian team would easily qualify to play at the World Cup – and could be coached by a certain Otto Addo, the current Black Stars coach.

He might have a Ghanaian-sounding name and his parents might be Ghanaian, but he was born and raised in Germany and carries a German passport.

He might not be acceptable as an MP in Ghana, but the emotional health of all 30 million of us Ghanaians currently depends on him and we just know and accept he is Ghanaian.


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World Cup 2022: ‘Where There Is Lionel Messi, There Is Hope For Argentina’



World Cup 2022: ‘Where There Is Lionel Messi, There Is Hope For Argentina’

Argentina’s vast support gathered in their thousands at Qatar’s Energy City adjacent to the vast Lusail Stadium with only one man on their minds as they faced World Cup jeopardy.

Lionel Messi has carried the hopes of this football-mad nation for most of his career but there was an added layer of tension as Argentina confronted old rivals Mexico in an ear-splitting atmosphere on the stage that will host the final.

Argentina knew defeat would effectively end their World Cup after two games following the embarrassment of the loss to Saudi Arabia in the opener. Messi knew this would mean the major honour that has eluded his grasp in a glittering career would be forever out of reach.

Messi was, once again, shouldering the burden of Argentina’s expectations – and once again he delivered by pulling out a piece of trademark magic when they needed it most to change the course of an attritional game, and perhaps even change the course of his team’s World Cup in the process.

The clock showed 64 minutes. Each passing second turned up the pressure valve on Argentina and, in turn, on Messi. He knows any Argentina failure on this stage, justified or not, can be painted as Messi’s failure.

He had been on the margins but took centre stage to devastating effect as Mexico fell victim to the magical left foot that has broken the hearts of so many opponents.

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One touch delicately killed the pass from Angel di Maria. The second touch arrowed a low finish into the bottom corner past the outstretched left arm of Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Amid an explosion of noise from Argentina’s fans, Messi ran towards them with arms outstretched in that familiar celebratory pose. He looked highly emotional with the relief and release, engulfed by team-mates who knew the man they rely on most had delivered again.

When the crowd of players dispersed, Messi stood in front of the light blue and white-clad supporters pumping his arms in exultation. He knew what it meant to them. They knew what it meant to him. Mutual ecstasy.

The greatest players deliver when it matters so it should be no surprise Messi produced again.

Until that moment, it had not been an easy night for Messi against Mexico, who clearly relished the idea of putting the skids under an Argentina side heavily tipped to lift the World Cup in this same Lusail Stadium on 18 December.

Messi had been marginalised by Mexico. He could not exert any influence in a first-half morass of stoppages and infringements, the 35-year-old often at walking pace looking for a patch of space where he could escape close Mexican attentions.

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It was when a football match eventually broke out in the second half that Messi flourished with the characteristic darting runs, the quick passes and, of course, the stroke of genius that broke the deadlock.

Argentina relaxed thanks to Messi, this team’s security blanket, and Enzo Fernandez added a glorious second with a curling right-foot shot after 87 minutes.

It sent their fans in the 88,966 attendance, the highest at the World Cup since the 1994 final in Pasadena, home happy – well at least those who did go home because many stayed on in one stand for almost an hour after the final whistle paying homage to their heroes, and one hero in particular.

Messi had brought life to Argentina’s World Cup. They still need victory against Poland, with their own national icon in striker Robert Lewandowski, to be certain of going through but real belief has surged through their ranks thanks to one stroke of Messi’s left foot.

He knew just what was riding on this game.

“We can’t give up now,” said Messi. “We have all the finals to play – we can’t make mistakes. We knew we had to win, that another World Cup was starting for us, and we knew how to do it.”

Messi certainly knew how to do it.

He knows this will be his last World Cup, the one elite stage on which he has yet to collect the prize. Messi suffered the heartbreak of defeat by Germany in Rio’s Maracana in the 2014 final. This was the closest he has come to laying hands on the World Cup.

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Messi’s career has brought four Champions Leagues, the Ballon d’Or seven times and 10 La Liga titles at Barcelona. His time at Paris St-Germain is still regarded as something of a footnote but even there he has won a Ligue 1 crown.

The World Cup is the missing link and this is Messi’s last chance to claim it.

Argentina did not entirely convince, have yet to show the form that has them ranked number three in the world, and the prospect of a painful exit still remains when they face dangerous opponents in Poland.

For now, however, Argentina’s World Cup show is back on the road because where there is Lionel Messi, there is hope.


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