Sellas Tetteh has turned around the fortunes of the Black Satellites
Ghanaian ace Journalist Mohammed Amin-Lamptey says Sellas Tetteh deserves plaudits for turning around the fortunes of the Black Satellites at the ongoing U20 World Cup in Turkey.
The expectations of many soccer fans in Ghana on the Black Satellites before their crucial 1/16 round of FIFA under 20 championship match against one of the tournament favorites Portugal last Wednesday was a shaky and unpredictable one due to their poor start of the championship with a two straight defeats in the hands of France and Italy respectively.
The Satellites under their World Cup winning Coach who won the cup in Egypt 2009, lost their first two group matches against France by (1-3) and Spain by (0-1).
The rejuvenated Sellas Tetteh side braced the USA storm with an emphatic (4-1) win which gave them a slim chance of qualification based on the much awaiting results from other groups to determine the four best 3rd place teams. Ghana sat on the tenterhooks for days waiting for the outcome of other last group matches to define their status in the championship, only to thank their African compatriot Egypt who defeated them in the final of the Africa version of the tournament in Algeria this year by defeating the Unite Kingdom by 2-0 to open up the door as it were for Ghana to scaled through to the 1/16 stage with a single goal advantage.
Before Black Satellites’ qualification, there were mixed reactions and concerns raised by soccer experts and analysts regarding the potency of the current breed of players as compare to the 2009 squad that ruled Africa and the world respectively.
There were those who have written the team off to the point of criticizing the commitment of individual players, the tactical disposition of Coach Tetteh and the loyalty of George Afriyie as the Management committee Chairman of the team. However, their victory against the United States brought out a dimension which gave birth to a new perception and vision for the team but nevertheless, some people stuck to their earlier impressions on the team.
When the announcement was made for the crucial game between Ghana and Portugal, majority of soccer pundits and fans publicly predicted a humble defeat for Ghana based on the performance of the Portuguese and their free scoring ability.
Football being a game of uncertainty, vividly displayed that unavoidable element that saw Coach Syllas Tetteh brought to bear his rich experience of the game with a superb squad ready to die a little for mother Ghana as against a favorite but complacent Portuguese side.
We cannot attribute the victory in our game against Portugal to only Coach Syllas Tetteh but to the Team Captain, Lawrence Lartey,George Afriyie,Management Committee Chairman, the ministry for Youth and Sports, the Supporters who did a yeoman’s job and of course entire Ghanaians.
However, credit must be given to where it’s due. COACH SELLAS TETTEH prove his mettle by adopting a unique strategy off the pitch and on the pitch with an effective media relations which accounted for 30% of the victory with the players and their Coach efforts making up 50% and Management Team led by George Afriyie 20%.
I sat behind my television set with a vapid expectation because of the previous matches the Black Satellites played as against the status symbol of their opponent due to a justified reason of a team that started the championship very well as against another team that started on a bad note.
I was left astounded with the tactical disposition of Coach Syllas Tetteh combined with players’ commitment as well as an unprecedented team work of the Black Satellites. After their game with the United States of America, I personally described the team in three phases. I labeled our defensive set up porous or leaky, our midfielders shapeless and our attackers disabled, because, our defenders could not march our oppositions, our midfielders were not allowed to supply the needed passes to their attackers who as a result were rendered disabled and unproductive.
Apart from the defensive back two made up of Lawrence Lartey and Joseph Attamah that appeared shaky right from the beginning of the game, the right full back Richmond Nketia also faced some difficulties containing the fast pace Portuguese attackers with Baba Abdul Rahman making a case for himself in a grand style with timely tackles at the back and at times invading the opponents half with shorts at goal, the midfield led by Salifu and Aboagye looked very much improved compare to their previous outings but the attackers made up of Assifuah and Ashia displayed a magnificent attacking prowess and purposefulness which produced the first goal through the second striker Kennedy Ashia in the 19th minutes of the game after the Portuguese squandered numerous scoring opportunities that came their way.
It’s against the above analysis that I believe that it takes only a listening and experienced Coach like Sellas Tetteh to have navigated through the difficult waters of their match against Portugal when indeed he was under the tutelage of the underdogs of the two combatants. Now follow me as I explain to you why Coach Syllas Tetteh to my observation displayed an excellent coaching prowess and won my heart for a yeoman’s job done and deserves a thunderous applause.
PRE-MATCH INTERVIEWS AND PREPARATION:
Observing from afar I realized that the Black Satellites Manager had information on how Ghanaians reacted and questioned his tactical approach and the ability of his players, and as a result, made strategic changes that saw changes in his starting team.
His psychological method saw a change in their training regime with excellent pre-match interviews that saw him and the team captain admitting their poor start of the competition but assured Ghanaians of their total commitment and readiness to run over the Portuguese regardless of their pedigree in the ongoing youth Championship.
TACTICAL APPROACH AND DISPOSITION:
Every experienced Coach of a sort would go into any crucial game like that of the 1/16 match between Ghana and Portugal with a win strategy that must contain at least three plans or more but Coach Tetteh exhibited his knowledge of the game with a 4-4-2 formation throughout the first 45 minutes.Intrestingly,the Coach even though playing with two strikers, the second Striker in the person of Kennedy Ashia who got Ghana’s first goal was used as a decoy both in attack and midfield because he possesses the energy and stamina. Just take a memory lane of his goal and you would see from where he had the ball before he took the 25 yarder short that gave us the first goal.
The midfield was designed around Salifu Seidu,Clifford Aboagye ,Moses Odjer and the magnificent Frank Acheapong who for their discipline and respect to play according to instruction of the Coach, managed to contained not only the big but tall Portuguese players who sometimes shoved and bully them. They did a lot of running from midfield to defense and sometimes to attack; hence Salifu could have the luxury of taking short at goals.
With determination and tactical discipline The Sellas Tetteh boys maintained their composure with the one goal slim lead to end the first half on a positive note. Undoubtedly, the second half promised to be uncompromising with the two Coaches been challenged by event to deploy all plans and strategies.
It was clear from the beginning of the second half that Ghana started with a simple strategy of defending the slim lead but may venture the scoring area of the Portuguese when there was any opportunity but the Portuguese used their body size and clinical finishing touch to pushed the young Ghanaian players to their own half which end up exposing the sluggishness of our two central defenders.Lartey and Attamah who in actual sense are excellent players but lack the needed aggressiveness and Ruggedness which they very much needed to scared and overcome their attackers. But all said and done, apart from the two cheap goals we considered due to poor timing and lack of concentration, I think their performance was far better compare to their previous games.
When Ghana went down by 1-2, I gave up the ghost because the Portuguese took over the game with total dominant in attack and midfield leaving the Black Satellites at the mercy of fatigue, confusion and chasing of their shadow as it were, but the creativity, innovation and experience of Coach Syllas Tetteh was at the verge of reaching a crescendo when he tactically brought on the silky Alfred Duncan and match winner, Richmond Boagye Yiadom for Clifford Aboagye and Kennedy Ashia respectively. Earlier it was Michael Anaba, Ghana’s second goal scorer who came on for the hard working Moses Odjer who sustained an injury. Nonetheless or perhaps this could be Sellas TetteH’s best substitution in a major tournament?
The amazing aspect of this substitution was that, those who were substituted played very well and contributed greatly except Odjer who got injured. Duncan and Boagye Yiadom joined their colleagues to showcase how strong our reserve bench could be and the incredible talents Ghana is endowed with. Is it the creativity Duncan brought into the midfield, the split seconds wisdom Boagye Yiadom introduced in attack or the power and hungry for success exhibited by Anaba? At this stage Michael Anaba gave us the second goal through an accurate pass from Duncan to Acheapong which Boagye Yiadom failed to convert but the rebound located the hungry Anaba who slot home the needed goal. When the Syllas Tetteh boys were gradually cozy to a 2-2 drawn game with the possibility of extra time and penalty shootouts, another splendid midfield orchestration by Salifu and Duncan saw the dangerous Ebenezer Assifuah in his usual pranks gave Ghana a match- winning free- kick which was equally taking by the tried and tested tormentor in chief Boagye Yiadom who blasted a terrific short that penetrated through a human hall for the match winner. I saw a combination of 4-4-2,4-5-1 and 4-3-3 throughout the game especially in the second half.
I would continue to praise Syllas Tetteh even if Ghana did not win the Cup this time around because he gave out all I want to see in a coach and a dream team. He showed, respect for opinions, bravery, commitment, loyalty, perseverance, tactical and technical awareness for his colleagues Coaches and our football administrators to learn from. I watched a beautiful game of soccer brew from the port of Ghana soccer with all the flair, talents and the Ghana brand on display. I would continue to hang on my hope to say that by the Grace of God and the wonderful people of Ghana the Black Satellites would go far after beating Chile on Sunday and even reach the final, INSHA ALLAH. Coach Borbor congratulations for doing what every Coach is expected to do in any crucial football match. “Some bad beginnings make good ending” so let’s keep hope alive