After a heavy 4-1 loss to Japan in their 2022 Kirin Cup opener on Friday, Ghana bounced back to winning ways with a 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over Chile on Tuesday to finish third at the tournament.

Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, Mohammed Kudus and Jordan Ayew converted from six yards to seal bronze in the third-place play-off fixture after the game ended 0-0 after regulation time. 

New urgency and purpose

It was a new Ghana side out on Tuesday, unlike Friday’s embarrassing 4-1  loss to Japan in the tournament opener, the Black Stars played with renewed strength, urgency and purpose. 

The team appeared to know what to do on the attack, a stark contrast to the last game where they appeared lackadaisical and out of ideas. 

It was no surprise, then, that Otto Addo’s side were in control of the game until in the second half when they were reduced to 10 men by the sending off of Alidu Seidu for a high boot. 

The need for sharpness upfront, though, should be high on Addo’s priority list. 

Old boys step up

A good part of Ghana’s dominance on the day had to do with the impact of Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey at the back, and China-based Mubarak Wakaso and captain Andre Ayew in midfield. 

In the Japan humiliation, Amartey appeared off-colour while Wakaso, in particular, was abysmal. 

With the Stars in need of a prompt reaction following the Japan mauling, a lot was expected from the ‘elder statesmen’ and so they stepped up as they showed leadership to their younger colleagues.

Wakaso, though, marred his performance with a second bookable offence which further reduced Ghana to nine men by the 78th minute.

And new generation show courage

As the older men raised their game, the young boys were not left behind. 

Ajax sensation Kudus was in fine form on the day in a deeper midfield role than usual, Seidu worked tirelessly at right-back until his sending off, and goalkeeper Abdul Manaf Nurudeen showed why he deserves a World Cup ticket during the penalty shoot-out. 

Also deserving commendation was the courage of Kudus and Issahaku to join the list of Ghana’s first five penalty takers, both converting with confidence. 

Ghana can win a shootout

For a nation with many bad memories of penalty shoot-outs, it is easy to think that Ghana are perpetually cursed with bad luck on penalties. 

Against Chile, however, the Black Stars showed that despite their poor record from six yards, they are still capable of shining on a good day. 

This refreshing reminder is particularly timely as the team heads for the World Cup in five months where they would hope not to suffer at the hands of Uruguay, the very same team that broke their hearts in 2010. 

Disciplinary concern

Without a doubt, finishing a game with nine men definitely does not speak well of a disciplined side, particularly as the big tournament beckons. 

Ghana were lucky to get away with a win despite their big numerical disadvantage on the day but they may pay dearly for such an incident at the World Cup.

Even more worrying was the lack of control exhibited by veteran Wakaso, who despite knowing he was already on a first booking and his team down to 10 men, still provoked the referee to get himself a second yellow card.  

For the veteran that the 31-year-old is, one would have expected him to handle himself better under the circumstances. 

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