Shortly after 7pm last night, it was clear that Richard Ofori would be in goal for the AFCON game against Cape Verde. The decision by coach Chris Hughton raised a few question marks later in the evening.
Ghana's goalie condundrum: Is Richard Ofori really the Black Stars' best shot-stopper?
Ghana has had three different goalkeepers sharing the no.1 spot in the last 18 months...
Ofori, a leader in the team, brings significant experience with 26 games for the Black Stars and 120 games in South Africa's topflight league. However, his last competitive match was in the CAF Champions League at the end of September.
His last league game is even further back, taking place in autumn 2022. Since then, he has been out injured, and after that, he alternated between the bench and the stands this season.
Some of this lack of match practice was evident yesterday. On the opening goal, Ofori only deflected the (admittedly quite tricky) ball inadequately, allowing Monteiro to just tap it in.
Later in the game, centre-back Alexander Djiku saved him twice. In the closing stages, although Ofori made two brilliant saves, his unfortunate behavior before the 2-1 didn't make a difference in the end.
Ofori's performance may not have cost the Black Stars the win, but it does raise questions. The criticism of his defenders after the game also leaves a bad taste. Chris Hughton is slowly but surely having to ask himself whether he still wants Ofori as his number one goalkeeper.
Alternatives, such as Joe Wollacott and Lawrence Ati-Zigi, are available. Wollacott has only played a few more games than Ofori this season, but in a much better league. He is also younger, although Ofori's experience would certainly make more sense here.
Lawrence Ati-Zigi, meanwhile, is clearly the hotter candidate. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the Swiss Super League, always ready for some spectacular saves and is one of the reasons why his team FC St. Gallen has the lowest number of expected goals against.
After the 22/23 season, he was even named the best goalkeeper in the league. His performances at the 2022 World Cup and the AFCON qualifiers show that he is a serious candidate and can help the team.
As he is also the youngest of the three goalkeepers, it would certainly make sense to plan for him as number 1 in the long term.
Whether Chris Hughton will make a change after Ofori's performance yesterday remains to be seen and is rather questionable, as demoting the captain is always dangerous.
From a purely sporting point of view, it would make sense, but Hughton has shown that he doesn't care too much about that.
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