Ghana’s hopes of qualifying for another Olympic games have taken a turn for the worse as Egypt came back from behind twice to beat the Black Meteors by three goals to two in Cairo on Monday, November 11, 2019.
Yaw Yeboah gave the Black Meteors an early advantage, tapping home from close range to stun the Egyptian team and the fans that had come to cheer them on.
However, eleven minutes later, Mostafa Mohammed headed home to level the game.
The Black Meteors took the lead again with just a minute played in the second half, Samuel Obeng Gyaaba capitalizing on a defensive blunder to restore Ghana’s advantage.
Ramadan Sobhi was awarded for his hard work with a goal, latching onto a parried shot by Kwame Baah in the 82nd minute to set up a frenzied final few minutes.
The hearts of Ghana were shattered as substitute, Ahmed Yasser Rayyan, headed in a perfect cross from a Sobhi corner kick to gift Egypt the win.
Ghana now has just a point from two games and must beat Mali to have any hope of making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
So how did Ghana go from two leads and a potential three points to a loss, zero points and the strong possibility of heading home and waiting for the 2024 Olympic Games?
Kingsley Fobi vs Ramadan Sobhi battle
The Egyptian captain, Ramadan Sobhi, had a very good game and scored the Pharaoh’s crucial equaliser.
In the 33rd minute of the game, Fobi received a yellow card and that left him very nervous leading him to stay away from 50-50 tackles and not being too aggressive on the night.
From that point onwards, Sobhi gave Kingsley Fobi a very terrible time on the right flank of the attack of the Pharaohs.
It was a complete mismatch of skill, pace, and intelligence and Fobi struggled all night to contain his opponent.
Due to the fact that the Ghanaian right-back could not match the trickery and pace of Sobhi, most of the attacks mounted by Egypt came from that end of the pitch.
Kwame Baah and the ‘hero-villain’ performance
It was one of those nights for Ghana’s number one shot-stopper as he was both the good and bad guy for the Ghanaians.
After a shaky start that cost Ghana an Egyptian goal, Baah quickly woke up and saved as many Egyptian efforts as he could. He was the barrier between the hosts and loads of goals and he was very reliable behind a Ghanaian defence that, though present in terms of bodies and people, was absent when it came to duties and functions.
But even the greatest heroes do feel tired and Baah was no longer impregnable.
He could have done a lot better with Mostafa Mohamed’s 17th-minute equalizer as he dived a little too late.
The goalkeeper was again to blame as he parried a shot to the feet of Ramadan Sobhi who was lurking in the 16-yard-box of the Black Meteors.
The change from 4-1-4-1 to 4-2-3-1
Ibrahim Tanko tweaked his formation to be able to accommodate the free-flow of attack from the Egyptians, a change that resulted in minimum effect as the attackers of Egypt mounted incessant pressure on the Ghanaian defence.
Simon Zibo and Issa Abass who started in the first game against Cameroon were sacrificed for Isaac Obeng Gyabaa and Eric Lomotey.
Obeng moved upfront, replacing Kwabena Owusu who was shifted to the left side of attack.
The defensive midfield pair of Agbekpornu and Eric Lomotey failed to have an impact on the match as the Pharaohs utilized the weak links through the wings.
Agbekpornu did not have a good game and that led to constant pressure on Fobi.
Evans Mensah did not double up with defensive duties as the left side of the Ghana setup was found wanting.
With the 4-2-3-1 setup, the Black Meteors could have relied on the short passes, the trickery, and flair of Kwabena Owusu and Evans Mensah who would have been deployed in their natural positions other than the long balls.
Anytime the Black Meteors scored, they could not string enough passes together to hold off the immense pressure from the Pharaohs.
The Black Meteors will now have to beat Mali on Friday while hoping that Egypt defeat Cameroon so they will have a chance of making it to the last four of the tournament.