The Black Stars of Ghana produced a morale-boosting performance to defeat Switzerland 2-0 in a final warm-up game at the Zayed Sports Complex in the United Arab Emirates yesterday, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Yesterday’s feat, made possible with a second half header from Southampton star, Mohammed Salisu and Antoine Semenyo’s strike, may have come as a huge surprise for many fans of the Black Stars.
As the lowest ranked team at the tournament expected to kick-start on Sunday, expectation among fans have been quite moderate following an unimpressive display that saw the team lose 3-0 to Brazil in a similar friendly.
Following that was a surprise 1-0 victory over low profile Nicaragua; that win left very little to be desired as fans hoped to see a record of a cricket score line.
But, interestingly, without Coach Otto Addo’s big name players including Thomas Partey, Mohammed Kudus and a few others, the Andre Ayew-led squad produced a performance that suddenly rekindled some interest in the team.
Faced with some very good performers including Granit Xhaka of Arsenal, Shrodan Shakil, Manuel Akanji of Manchester City, Dennis Zakaria of Chelsea and others, the Ghanaians showed their class on the day and appeared the better side in the barren first half.
And in a half that saw the Swiss make the first two incursions at goal and Ghana having the lion’s share of the dominance, both needed a performance extraordinary to unlock each other’s defence.
The Black Stars were unlucky to have seen a penalty appeal waved off by the referee just before the first water break when local star, Daniel Afriyie Barnie was shoved off the ball in what seem a bad tackle.
Coach Otto Addo effected a few changes, bringing on Daniel Kofi Kyereh, Antoine Semenyo, Kamal Sowah and Kamal Deen Sulemana for Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Jordan Ayew, Inaki Williams and Elisha Owusu.
Despite the shuffle upfront, it took a defender, Salisu Mohammed to nod home the opener in the 69th minute following a scramble created from a corner kick.
Kyereh’s kick into the Swiss area was flicked by Kamal Sowah but a heavily challenged Salisu won an aerial tussle to head over Sommer in goal for the Swiss for Ghana’s opener.
The Black Stars kept the foot on the accelerator, piling more pressure on the Swiss and managed to secure the win with a second goal in the 74th minute as Semenyo fired home from a rebound.
The Black Stars will open their World Cup account on November 24 against Portugal.
BY ANDREW NORTEY