Tactic Talk – Gyan stars to lead Ghana to top of Group D

Ghana continued their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 2-0 victory over Mali to lead Group D with one match remaining. However, despite a second victory and a second clean sheet in two games, in a less than convincing performance, the Black Stars had one player to thank in particular, for moments of individual brilliance that allowed his side to secure the victory.

After a tense first half, with both sides looking to dominate in midfield, deadlock remained at the interval before Ghana looked to assert their authority in the second period. Al-Ain’s on-loan striker Asamoah Gyan enjoyed a fine individual performance for Ghana. Gyan, currently loaned from Sunderland, opened the scoring for his side with a stunning free-kick, looping over the wall to put his side a goal in front shortly after the hour mark. Gyan would again prove vital as Ghana doubled their advantage, turning provider with a deft flick to Andre Ayew, who tormented the Mali defence, repeatedly turning his marker, before slotting home to secure the victory for Ghana.

After losing John Mensah to suspension following his goal-scoring and red card performance in a 1-0 win over Botswana in their previous outing, a Ghana side still missing an almost talismanic figure in Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, found a new influential player in Gyan, a man looking to have rediscovered his best form following his short-term move from the Stadium of Light.

Having impressed during his early days in the North-East of England, Gyan’s form would dip, with many believing the forward’s head had been turned by talk of a move elsewhere in the months leading up to his departure. However, with the player moving on, in at least a temporary capacity, Gyan would appear to have also gained focus in his national side, culminating in his most recent performance.

With an upcoming clash against Guinea, Ghana find themselves in a strong position in their group. With two wins from their opening matches, the Black Stars sit top of Group D ahead of their final fixture in the opening round, despite not appearing to have produced their best form so far in the tournament. However, with sides such as Senegal and Morocco failing to make the knockout stages, Ghana are now even more firmly among the favourites for the tournament, alongside Ivory Coast, themselves opening the tournament with two victories despite somewhat unconvincing performances.

However, now presented with a strong chance to contest the tournament into its latter stages, Ghana will be looking to seize the opportunity. In a side yet to concede so far in the tournament and with Gyan’s recent starring role, a stunning strike from Ayew as well as looking forward to welcoming Mensah back into the side, the Black Stars will be hoping to see others raise their level of performances to match their senior players in their quest for glory.

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