After suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of five times World Champions, Brazil, the Black Stars will take their preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to Spain with a clash on Tuesday awaiting them against 139th FIFA ranked nation, Nicaragua.
The two nations, 79 places apart according to the latest FIFA Coca-Cola rankings will lock horns at the Estadio Francisco Artes Carrasco, Lorca, Spain. Ghana is playing the match as part of preparations for the World Cup, and the results may not matter, but at least a win would be a morale booster. The purpose of the match is to test the players and test tactics.
Both teams lost their last matches with Ghana getting humbled 3-0 by Brazil in France while Nicaragua lost 2-1 to Suriname. Heading into the match, Nicaragua has played three international friendlies against Belize and Suriname. First was a 4-0 win over Belize on January 30 before a 1-1 draw followed later on February 2. The latest was 2-1 defeat to Suriname on Thursday, September 22.
In the two matches against Belize, Marco Antonio Figueroa deployed a 4-4-2 double 6, but against Suriname, he opted for a 4-1-4-1 with Jaime Moreno leading the lines. In all competitions, Nicaragua has seven matches in the calendar year and has 4 wins, two draws and one loss. They have scored a total of 16 goals in the process while conceding six goals. They have three clean sheets.
Ghana, meanwhile, played four friendlies during the same period, lost three and drew one which they won on penalties. In those four matches, the team conceded 10 goals while scoring only one goal. In all competitions, Ghana played 11 matches, won only one, drawn 5 and lost 5. Ghana conceded 16 goals while scoring just 6 and keeping just three clean sheets.
Otto Addo’s men had a very poor first half against Brazil but played an improved game in the second which limited the Samba Boy’s threats and ensured no more goals were conceded. Set piece defending was very poor, and the coach said they worked on it during training ahead of the Nicaragua match.
He might be attempted to ditch the 4-2-3-1 system he played in the first half to the 4-1-4-1 which proved helpful in the second half. With that, several changes are expected to be made with some players likely to lose their spots in the starting XI.
Inaki William’s experience was very crucial in the second half, and he gave the Brazilian defence some time to earn some trouble for having a rest day in the first half. He will be expected to slot straight in with Afena Gyan missing out. There will also be some changes at the back with Salisu Mohammed expected to partner Daniel Amartey and Alexander Djiku in defence to form a back three. Either Baba Rahman or Denis Odoi will miss out for Tariq Lamptey in a wingback role. At this moment, Denis Odoi is expected to be the casualty. Baba Iddrisu will continue his role in midfield, but Elisha Mensah may come into support if the coach opts to give two defensive midfielders a chance to shore up the midfield.
Everyone would agree that Kudus Mohammed’s current form means he should be given an advanced role to influence the team’s goalscoring chances and Andre Ayew may have to make way for him to play Otto Addo wants to play Ayew out wide; he should come off the bench.
Jojo Wollacott was not to be blamed for the goals, but fans have not trusted him due to the league he plays in, and with Richard Ofori in top gear for his club, he should be given the chance to fight for the position he lost to Wollacott while injured in October last year. Both Jordan Ayew and Baba Rahman would need to improve on their crossing abilities to ensure the balls get to the right targets. Jordan failed to succeed in four attempts while Baba succeeded only once in four attempts.
Ghana predicted XI(3-5-2): Richard Ofori, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Salisu Mohammed, Baba Rahman, Tariq Lamptey, Baba Iddrisu, Kudus Mohammed, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Jordan Ayew, Inaki Williams.
Despite going off for Salandia, Lopez is expected to keep his place in the post for Nicaragua. At the same time, a central defensive pair of Fletes and Guiterrez will still be tasked to shield him, and Acevedo and Quinjao will keep their places in the laterals. Coronel will play the anchor role between the midfield and defence, and he will be supported by Medina and Belli Moldskred who will sit slightly ahead of him.
Jaime Moreno will spearhead the attack and behind him will be Bonilla and Lopez.
Nicaragua predicted XI(4-3-3): Lopez, Fletes, Guiterrez, Quinjao, Acevedo, Coronel, Medina, Moldskred, Bonilla, Lopez, Moreno.
Prediction: Ghana should be able to leave the pain of the defeat to Brazil behind them and secure a morale-booster win against Nicaragua. Our prediction is a win for Ghana with Inaki Williams and Kudus Mohammed expected to score. Score: Ghana 4-1 Nicaragua.