Asante Kotoko gaffer C.K. Akonnor guided the club to repeat a 26-year history at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Sunday over Nkana FC in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The Porcupine Warriors gallantly blew their opponents away with a handsome 3-0 scoreline with all goals scored under 25 minutes in the game.
Abdul Fatawu Shafiwu broke the virginity of the game just three minutes into the game before Emmanuel Gyamfi increased the tally with a nice tap in from a Daniel Darkwah cross on the 21st minute with Martin Antwi wrapping it up with a beautiful free kick to complete the Nkana conquest.
But was that a rehearsed strategy by Akonnor to kill the game before the half-hour mark or the team just scored by chance?
FootballMadeInGhana.com brings you the tactical analysis of the game considering the game plans of the two coaches and their strategies.
Asante Kotoko static formation (4-4-1-1)
Felix Annan (GK)
Abdul Fatawu Shafiwu
Nkana FC static formation (4-4-2)
Allan Chibwe (GK)
Ben Bahn Adama
The game plan for Asante Kotoko was to attack Nkana and score quick goals and also to defend excellently without conceding as explained by Akonnor after the game which worked perfectly for them.
The strategy to achieve this game plan was for Kotoko to press high at the half of Nkana especially when Nkana have the ball to win back possession and dictate the pace of the game which also worked marvelously for them.
On the other hand, Nkana also started with a similar game plan but with less attacking orientation. They had wanted to keep possession, force the Kotoko players to chase their shadows and frustrate them.
After identifying this game plan, one could see that the key strategy of Nkana was to handle the swift Kotoko wingers with hard tackles to put ‘the fear of God’ in them to frustrate them more in the game. Nkana knew that the Kotoko defenders were smart and skillful and so whacking them will put them off their rehearsed play.
This explains why Gyamfi had to switch from the right to the left with Martin Antwi, after suffering an opening hard tackle from Joseph Musonda.
Kotoko’s high pressing paid off winning them a free kick under 3 minutes with Fatawu unleashing a thunderous screamer to open the scoring.
The same high pressing was what brought about the second goal as Gyamfi knew Darkwah will not relent in chasing the ball which nearly traveled over the line for a goal kick, hence running swiftly to connect the beautiful cross. And the same can be said about the free kick which resulted in the third goal.
The strategy of Nkana couldn’t work because you can’t beat C.K. Akonnor to ball possession. No, not in this competition. So when I realised they wanted to possess, I knew they will fall.
Throughout the competition, Asante Kotoko have been impressive with the possessive football, even in matches that they lose, they dominate possession. So at the Baba Yara Stadium, it’s highly difficult for any side to win with possessive football.
Nkana started the game with an attacking game plan 4-4-2 and the strategy was to have more men behind the ball anytime Kotoko are attacking, and leave Bwalya upfront.
Bwalya was to be provided cover up front by Kampamba but the aggression of Wahab kept Bwalya off his core duties on the few occasions he had the ball.
The high pressing game plan by Kotoko did not allow Nkana to execute their plan excellently, making Bwalya run a lot without any effective outcome.
I remember making this point after Kotoko’s 2-1 win over ZECSO United that you can’t beat Kotoko at Baba Yara with possessive football. CK is a master of possessive football. And that was proved today.
The second half of the game looked like a balanced game with Nkana fairly on top and that was explained by the attacking football by Kotoko played in the first half.
High pressing football requires a lot of energy so hardly can a team maintain that throughout the game. So with Nkana down, and expectedly, having to push to reduce the tally, Kotoko endured some pressure.
After Festus Mbewe came on with about 20 minutes to end the game, Nkana changed their system from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 with Kampamba and Bwalya on the right and left sides of attack while Mbewe led the attack.
This was when Nkana could have realized long ago and to have unleashed venom on Asante Kotoko. With Kampamba and Bwalya on the sides of their attack, Nkana resorted to floating long balls and that was working for them.
Kotoko right-back Augustine Sefah is disadvantaged when it comes to flying balls due to his height. So I was wondering why Nkana wanted to rely on short passing and midfield play to outwit Kotoko when they could have relied a lot on long balls and medium pressing in midfield while they employ high pressing upfront.
Kotoko really endured some high level of defending to keep a clean sheet when Nkana FC switched to 4-3-3.
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