Ghanaians are buzzing. And it’s not hard to see why, after the Black Stars delivered one of their best performances in recent years against Switzerland on Thursday.
5 things we learned from Ghana’s 2-0 win against Switzerland
Afriyie Barnieh grabbed his chance, Salis Samed and Elisha Owusu dominated in midfield, here are five talking points from Ghana’s win against Switzerland.
It may have been just a friendly, but Otto Addo and his side showed great character from the blast of the referee’s whistle and completely dominated a side that is ranked among the top 15 in the world.
In the end, a 2-0 victory seems a fair reflection of the game, with Mohammed Salisu and substitute Antoine Semenyo getting the goals for Ghana.
Addo’s substitutions were also spot on, on a day when everything was near-perfect for the Black Stars.
Pulse Sports brings you the five major talking points from the Ghana vs Switzerland game:
- Afriyie Barnieh grabs his chance with both hands
It’s been a great week for Daniel Afriyieh Barnieh, who was included in Ghana’s 26-man squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup on Monday and was handed his full debut three days later.
The Hearts of Oak star started alongside Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew as an attacking trio that provided support for lone striker Inaki Williams.
And he grabbed his chance with both hands. Barnieh was a livewire on the flanks and provided width as Ghana tried to stretch their opponents. He may not have scored but he was so impressive that his name was topping the trends on Ghana Twitter before halftime. Says it all.
2. Salis and Owusu dominate Xhaka and co.
Everybody knows Thomas Partey is the main man in Ghana’s midfield and, until today, many wondered which player would partner with the Arsenal man in the middle of the park in Qatar.
Against Switzerland, Partey was an unused substitute, with Abdul Salis Samed and Elisha Owusu being deployed as a midfield duo. Suffice it to say the pair dominated the Swiss midfield, which had Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria, and held their own quite well.
But for Partey’s reputation and status in the team, I dare say it would’ve been difficult for Otto Addo to drop Salis or Owusu for the Arsenal man when Ghana takes on Portugal in their World Cup opener in a week’s time. They were so assured in midfield that Addo didn't even need bring on Partey against the Swiss.
3.Ati Zigi seems to be Otto Addo’s preferred no.1
Another question which begged for answers was ‘who will be Ghana’s first-choice goalkeeper during the World Cup?’
With both Jojo Wollacott and Richard Ofori ruled out of the tournament due to injury, three goalkeepers – Ati Zigi, Danlad Ibrahim and Manaf Nurudeen – with little experience in Ghana colours are battling for the starting slot.
On the basis of Ghana’s starting line-up against Switzerland, it is likely that Ati Zigi will be Otto Addo’s first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar. The St. Gallen shot-stopper had a shaky start to the game against the Swiss, but ultimately kept a clean sheet which is good for his confidence.
He, however, wasn’t tested enough for a complete assessment to be made due to Ghana’s defensive solidity.
4. Defence is Ghana’s biggest strength
Ghana’s biggest strength lies in defense, where Otto Addo is spoilt for choice. Tariq Lamptey, Baba Rahman, Mohammed Salisu and Daniel Amartey started in a back four and delivered an assured performance.
On the bench, Gideon Mensah, Joseph Aidoo, Denis Odoi and Alexander Djiku watched on. The fact that the aforementioned players were all on the bench speaks to the Black Stars’ depth in that area.
5. Ghana heading to Qatar in best possible shape
It’s always good to go into a tournament on the back of a win and Ghana will head to Qatar with a morale-boosting win against Switzerland.
The Black Stars have endured a torrid time in recent months and, despite getting the better of Nigeria in the World Cup playoffs in March, the team was rarely impressive.
On Thursday, though, they showed character and were proactive in their play. This is their best performance in years and it could just be the catalyst for Ghana’s explosion in Qatar despite being ranked as minnows in Group H.