Not this time, England!
The day finally arrived. The day all Ghanaians were anticipating. The players talked about it. The media did justice to it as well. The 24 million coaches in Ghana all gave their views on the game. It was to be a battle and not a friendly.
Fabio Capello, coach of England even could not stop Ghanaians from taking this game to be a “world cup.” With or without Rooney, Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole, the match was always going to be hugely-contested. The reasons are not far-fetched:
– England has never lost to an African side.
– Ghana has always been a trail blazer in Africa thus wanted to inflict England’s first-ever defeat to an African side.
– The young English players wanted to cement their positions in the team.
– Some of the Ghana players need new clubs especially in the premier league.
-Ghana play against her colonial masters.
I had a long chat with some friends ranging from doctors to football pundits before the game. Everyone was positive about the chances of the Black Stars. When the game started, there was total silence in Ghana. You could hardly see a taxi. All the cab drivers had parked their cars. It was time to witness some footy. Ghana has been a football nation and will forever be. Football is the passion and soul of the nation…..the only game that unites tribes, opposition parties, enemies and even…..demons and angels.
I have always been a man of positivity but the first 10 minutes portrayed how anxious, scared and feeble our players were in the face of opposition. The 20,000 Ghanaian fans at the stadium could do nothing to take the fear away as they chanted, sang and praised our players. That is how it feels when you are playing against a nation which is known as the “creator” of football.
It was clearly a game of two halves. Andy Caroll scored his first goal for England on a night when the forwards shone and the defenders finally cracked in the final stages as Gyan grabbed a deserved equalizer.
In the absence of England’s more established players – only Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere, Glen Johnson and Ashley Young remained from the team that beat Wales last Sunday – it was up to the younger players to make an impact.
And they did in 90 minutes when several of them gave manager Fabio Capello much to ponder as he prepares for more serious tests ahead.
After Wilshere and Young both blasted chances over the bar, it was the Aston Villa man who was the first to test Ghana and Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingson aka Olele. He let off a superb curling shot on 15 minutes that the visiting stopper managed to keep out with a one handed save. That was spectacular but i still feel Ghana needs to start looking a new goalkeeper. Olele is old and his reflexes aren’t the same as it were two years ago. if you doubt me, ask the fans of Blackpool.
Nine minutes earlier Dominic Adiyiah, part of a three-man support to lone striker Gyan, went one-on-one with Hart, who made an excellent point-blank save to keep the Partizan Belgrade man out.
Young then hit the crossbar on 23 minutes after some excellent build-up play from Downing and Milner, who crossed for the England wide man. Carroll should have done better with the rebound, but he could only shove the ball into the Ghana defenders.
If England were impressive going forward, they were worrying in defence, as the back four left Emmanuel Agyeman-Badu alone to turn Kwadwo Asamoah’s free kick towards goal on 27 minutes, as Hart again made a great save.
England then had a huge let-off on 32 minutes as Hart miscued a clearance straight to Gyan, who then crossed to Isaac Vorsah who beat Gareth Barry to get a shot off, which the goalkeeper just managed to keep out.
Carroll then settled England’s nerves two minutes before half time with a well-worked goal, as Downing laid the ball off to the onrushing Liverpool striker to drive into the far corner of the net from a tight angle.
England made one change at half time – Lescott for Gary Cahill – with an aim to settling the back four but Fulham fullback John Pantsil went close to breaching the home defence on 58 minutes with a shot that skimmed over the bar.
Throughout the second half both sides made a host of substitutions, including England debuts for Matt Jarvis and Danny Wellbeck but the raft of changes took out all the urgency that had kept the game interesting for the first hour.
There was one more sting in the tail – and again England’s back four were at fault, as Gyan ghosted past Lescott in injury time to take the gloss off the game for Capello – and send the 20,000 boisterous visiting fans home delirious.
I must confess that, Ghana was poor in the first half but the second half was great as Derek Boateng brought some steel in the midfield when he came on for Anthony Annan. The second half belonged to us….and did i talk about the “back or norr norr dance?” It was on point!
It was a draw but Ghana leaves Wembley filled with joy….we sent a message to our colonial masters…..not this time, England!