Black Stars coach, Otto Addo remained confident that Ghana’s World Cup dream was intact as pressure has shifted on the Nigerians to deliver ahead of the West African rivals reverse Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup play-offs today at the M.K.O Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
An optimistic Addo said today’s cracker was a contest of equals with his sight set on scoring away which he deemed could turn out to be the sucker punch.
“The Nigerians saw that we can play as well. Our dismissive performance at the African Cup of Nations may have created an impression about our quality but we proved that the gulf in quality is narrow. We matched them and they have respect for us now.”
Addo said in a media interaction that the team would plug leakages to dim the confidence of the Nigerians, inversely maximising the Stars chances of victory.
“I’m glad we didn’t concede but we have to stop the counter situations we allowed that gave the Nigerians a goalscoring edge. We enjoyed better ball possession and played from the back how I wanted it and we are going to build on that.”
For Addo to realise his vision of Ghana being in goalscoring form, the creativity of Ajax midfielder Kudus Mohammed and goal scoring instinct of AS Roma teen sensation, Felix Afena-Gyan must be in full force with Addo praising the duo for their performance in Kumasi.
“Kudus is undoubtedly an exceptional player and I know the crowd adores when he’s doing his body swerves with the ball but in the second leg we would require him to drive the ball forward more directly, because he has that ability and that will be more effective for the team.”
“I couldn’t have asked more from Afena Gyan. For a 19-year old making his debut, he pressed well and made useful runs. I will simply describe him as a diamond.”
He said Gyan was in good condition and had no injury concerns as he suffered cramps leading to his substitution; that was not a big deal.
Addo also voiced support for forward Jordan Ayew, who has come under pressure for what many regarded was an abysmal output against the Super Eagles as the crowd booed when he was substituted but Addo saw differently.
“I think the booing was for me, no problem. Jordan played well especially in the first-half and in the one-on-on situations. Defensively, he excelled and his recovery was great, I was really satisfied but at the end he got tired.”
Aggregate winner over the two legs, will pick one of five slots available to Africa for global football’s biggest showpiece in November.
BY NANA BENTSI ODURO