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But for Jonathan Mensah’s injury, Mubarak Wakaso doesn’t make Black Stars starting 11

Per what happened in the two-legged tie against Zimbabwe the first and last time Milovan Rajevac handled the Black Stars in a competitive game on his return to the team, Midfielder Mubarak Wakaso wasn’t guaranteed a place in the starting unit in the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualification games against Ethiopia and South Africa.

Even in the absence of the injured Thomas Partey, veteran tough-tackling midfielder Wakaso was realistically looking at a spot on the bench mainly due to Rajevac’s tactical tweaks to the Black Stars.

The Serbian trainer lined up with four players at the back twice against Zimbabwe but his team played out both games with a three-man system at the back pushing left full-back, Baba Rahman, into the wing-back position.

A mix of Partey, Baba Iddrisu, Andre Ayew, and Mohammed Kudus picked up the midfield spots with Benjamin Tetteh, Jordan Ayew, and Kamaldeen Sulemana occupying the front spaces.

In the absence of Partey, Edmund Addo looked sure (at least) on paper to make the starting 11 ahead of Wakaso mainly due to the latter’s tactical indiscipline coupled with Rajevac’s need for tactical discipline to ensure his organizational game plan works.

Organizing his teams to often grind out wins is the Serbian Trainer’s staple and Wakaso is a wrong fit on a team that doesn’t score many goals and doesn’t look like one to score many goals in the near future considering the strike options available and Milo’s conservative style.

Making a national debut against Ethiopia in an empty stadium shouldn’t be a big challenge for Addo who has had a meteoric rise in the latter half of 2021 on the back of a brilliant run by Moldovan success story Sherif Tiraspor in the Champions League.

Unlike Philemon Baffour, Milo shouldn’t have any problems slotting Addo in the lineup alongside Iddrisu as the anchors in midfield.

However, it is Jonathan Mensah’s injury that ultimately opens the door for Wakaso to the starting lineup for the Black Stars against Ethiopia.

By playing Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, and Mensah at the back against Zimbabwe with success especially since it was a new system and the unit was playing together for the first time, there was no room for Wakaso in midfield in the lead up to the qualifier on Thursday.

Since Djiku and Mensah won’t feature in the game, Ghana lines up in a 4-3-2-1 formation likely with Joseph Aidoo partnering Amartey in a reshaped backline alongside full-backs Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom.

Addo, Wakaso, and Baba make the midfield trio with Sulemana and Kudus playing ahead of them and Boakye-Yiadom operating as the lone striker up top. In this setup, there is no room for the Ayew Brothers.

The best remedy to solve Jordan Ayew’s goal-scoring drought lies in Rajevac giving him a back seat to ease the pressure on him to score.

Watching Jordan play over the past months, it is clear he is trying to force the issue in front of the goal and that is the last thing Ghana needs at this crucial juncture.

Dropping Andre Ayew and starting Boakye-Yiadom is a big call especially considering his goal-scoring form for Al Sadd but to get the best out of this team, Ayew needs to come off the bench.

Like Benjamin Tetteh, Boakye-Yiadom is a tall target (2 inches shorter than the 6 foot 3 inch Tetteh though) upfield but more mobile and fits Milo’s system as an outlet for long balls from deep.

Starting Boakye-Yiadom ahead of the Ayews is hard to see happening any time soon (football politics and all) and as such, Edmund Addo gets yanked from the starting 11 to have Dede play alongside Kamaldeen behind Boakye-Yiadom and Kudus Mohammed drop into the left side of the three man midfield.

Perhaps Boakye-Yiadon misses out entirely and Jordan Ayew gets to play the lone man role up top.

The Black Stars have what it takes to win both games and move to the final phase of qualification without Partey who is nursing a groin injury.

Forcing him to play is far from ideal against South Africa as Ghana risks a potentially tense situation with Arsenal for future assignments should he aggravate the injury.

Worsening Partey’s injury situation could ruin Ghana’s 2022 AFCON campaign too.

On the flip side, Djiku would be eligible to play against South Africa giving Milo the chance to revert to his “early tenure favoured” back three systems.

Though the unit struggled in stretches in its attempts to play out from the back, it was a good exercise against Zimbabwe, and with Djiku in line to play against South Africa, a likely improvement in that regard should be expected to open spaces in the South African middle.

That means, playing against Ethiopia could turn out to be some sort of an exhibition game for Wakaso to Rajevac who has a penchant for disregarding the veteran status of many a player.

Played a bad game against Ethiopia, make those rash challenges, and go all gung-ho chasing that strike neglecting primary duties, and Wakaso could find himself out of the starting lineup against South Africa.

Should that happen, it wouldn’t be a surprise since his place in the starting 11 wasn’t guaranteed in the first place but for Jonathan Mensah’s injury.

 

Source: Ghanasoccernet

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