Ghana is out of AFCON 2023 despite its legacy and featuring one of the tournament’s brightest stars, Mohammed Kudus. Northern African heavyweights Algeria and Tunisia couldn’t stop from embarrassing themselves either.
Such shock results are good for natural fans but were received terribly by the teams’ home fans. Just why did Ghana and other important teams get knocked out of AFCOn straight from the group stages? And why couldn’t their star players, who routinely dominate fantasy football contests, produce more?
Kudus unable to stop Ghana’s downfall
Ghana has won the African Cup of Nations four times. They’re often featured in the World and are generally considered one of the best footballing nations on the continent.
None of that mattered; however, the Black Stars looked desperate for any spot of luck. By the end of three matches, having managed only two draws, Ghana was still hopeful of a miracle result that could see them through to the knock-out stages. That miracle never came.
Why did this happen?
- Mohammed Kudus couldn’t be Ghana’s saviour. In many ways, it was unfair to ask for that. Yes, Kudus has had a quick rise that has seen him earn a big money move from Ajax Amsterdam to West Ham United. The 537 points he has scored in FootballCoin this season help prove just how great a player he can be in the right circumstances. Kudus suffered from an injury going into the tournament. Ransford Yeboah-Konigsdorffer, who played in the second tier of German football, was tasked with deputizing.
When fit, Kudus was active as a shadow striker behind Antoine Semenyo. In the final game, against Mozambique, his passing and dribbling elevated the team, but errors elsewhere on the pitch derailed the team’s chances.
- Head coach Chris Hutton’s tactics did not work. The former Premier League manager attempted to employ a dynamic 4-2-3-1 formation but neglected to consider Ghana’s weak points. For example, the team’s pressing was undone by the double-pivot of Majeed Asimeru and Salis Samed. THe Ghana Football Association has since dismissed Hutton.
- Ghana misread Cape Verde’s potential in their opening game. It meant that the experience of players like Jordan Ayew could not be utilized. Former Manchester United player Bebé ran riot through the midfield. And errors in the final stages cost Ghana a valuable point.
- Overall, Ghana didn’t show much team cohesion or inventiveness. Against Cape Verde, they conceded the losing game in the dying minutes. Getting locked out of AFCON is a fair result.
Algeria and Tunisia disappoint
Northern African teams are, traditionally, among Africa’s best. However, apart from potential champions Morocco’s confident display, no other team was impressive at this Ivory Coast-hosted AFCON.
- The list of disappointments so far has to include Egypt. With Mohamed Salah injured for their last two games, the Pharaohs looked devoid of creative ideas. Three hard-fought draws helped them squeeze off their group. But, little makes fans confident that they’ll be able to achieve their objective and win the competition.
- Algeria was a team able to create goal-scoring chances, with 15.7 shots per goal over 90 minutes. However, the team lacked a spark in front of goal. And, despite averaging 68% possession, the team could not transform this into points.
Riyad Mahrez, the team’s star player, was involved in all three matches but was mostly kept quiet by opponents. Veteran striker Baghdad Bounedjah managed three goals. However, costly defensive errors against Angola, Burkina Faso and Mauritania in their final group game meant that the North Africans departed without any victories at AFCON.
- Tunisia was once one of the premier teams in Africa and regular contenders for World Cup qualification. This time, however, they managed one single goal. The end of their three-game run felt like a blessing in disguise. The team wasn’t very creative, efficient with possession, or able to create chances. It’s a shame because their squad included players who regularly start for teams like Eintracht Frankfurt, Union Berlin or Brentford.