Naby Keita penalty at the death of the CAF Confederations Cup playoffs against Ivorian side San Pedro gave the Porcupine Warriors a slim advantage ahead of the return leg today.
On the face of the pink sheet it was a well deserved victory for the Reds and a reward for dominating possession but Asante Kotoko lost on the tactical, structure and approach scorecards.
It is needless to say that the most important statistic in football is none other than goals but connoisseurs of the game preach that there is more to football than just slotting the round leather object at the back of the net.
Although the two-time CAF Champions League winners and one-time finalists in the Confederations Cup won the game they will be the first to admit that the match did not go as planned.
At this material juncture, one might quiz on what basis is the writer saying this or is trying to just make a mountain out of a molehill or possibly trying to create a non-existent problem.
Focalsportsonline in conjunction with Sports Pack seeks to break down the one nil feat chalked against San Pedro last week.
First and foremost let’s take a closer look at how Asante Kotoko lined up against their counterparts from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
Coach Kjetil Zachariassen opted for a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Emmanuel Gyamfi their tormentor-in-chief ably supported by Patrick Yeboah on the left flank.
Anyone who has monitored the Porcupine Warriors is fully aware that Asante Kotoko is overly reliant on the pace and trickery of winger Emmanuel Gyamfi – who blazes past opponents as if they were not there with his lightning quick pace coupled with his quick feet.
But in the game against San Pedro, he was restricted to virtually been a mere spectator or an ineffective player on the field however that was not any fault of his. Why?
Anytime Gyamfi tries to make incursions on the left side of attack, he is heavily policed by the defence of San Pedro with at least three players closing him down which can be evidenced in the picture above.
Again, one of the reasons why Gyamfi had an average (poor by his lofty standards) game was because of the lack of support from his team mates.
It beats the imagination how the team mates of Gyamfi were expecting him to survive against 3-4 defenders, one scenario was when his wing partner – Patrick Yeboah – left a yawning 32 metres between himself and Gyamfi which gave the defenders an easy task of closing Gyamfi down.
Because of their reliance on the Gyamfi flank anytime he lost possession, it left a big void behind them which caused Kotoko problems at times.
This approach or style caused Asante Kotoko more harm than good as they lost possession in attack on more occasions than beating the San Pedro barrier.
In Kotoko’s ineffectiveness, San Pedro thrived with their organization and structure, always maintaining a good shape which made it difficult for the home side to breach the defense.
San Pedro employed the Christmas tree formation (4-3-2-1) in defending or pressing Kotoko with every player maintaining their shape and nullifying the threat posed by their opposition. This can be seen in the picture below.
As Kotoko searched for a breakthrough, they threw caution to the wind with six players going on the attack leaving only four players in defence without any midfield cover. Because of the lack of midfield presence, Kotoko had to resort to long balls which was effectively dealt with by San Pedro. The green area shows the yawning absence of Kotoko’s midfield which was captured by San Pedro (in white). Take a look at the picture below.
Again, the gap between the 6 attackers and four defenders was an eye-watering 48 metres which could have been deadly if this was an away game.
But at the end of 90 minutes of football fiesta played over two days Asante Kotoko were bailed out of jail with a penalty at the death from Naby Keita Laye.
Hopefully, this piece from Focalsportsonline in conjunction with Sports Pack will help the technical handlers of the club to make changes to their approach.