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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Czech Republic v Ghana

The games then turned to the better. Ghana had withdrawn Sami Kuffour for his involvement in the Italian's 2nd goal (and, I would think, for his ridiculously unnecessary hack at Vincenzo Iaquinta during an offside-but-on-goal moment), Michael Essien and skipper Stephen Appiah took to the central midfield again, the tenacious and impressive Asamoah Gyan upfront with Matthew Amoah. The Czech were missing Milan Baros still and Jans Koller so Vratislav Lokvenc was the lone man upfront. Now, I said that, while Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved utilised the space granted to them against the USA, which made Rosicky look impressive, it came against a lacklustre American side. With Essien and Appiah more attack-minded and of good defensive quality in central midfield, Ghana should give more of a test for the Czech two.

But from the kick off, something went wrong. Ghana rushed at goal and fashioned a corner. It rebounded to Appiah on the left, and his cross was meant to connect with a header from the usually reliable Fiorentina man Tomas Ujfalusi but he missed, allowing Gyan to control and and hit wide past Petr Cech. First blood. From then Ghana kept pressure on the Czech Republic and Cech in major employment. Rosicky and Marek Jankulovski went close but wide, Nedved shot at Richard Kingston in goal, and at the other end the Czech almost allowed Appiah a goal as he came forward and shot low but wide.

After the start of the second half, Nedved scored with a well positioned header but was flagged offside. Ghana still came forward to pressurise the Czech defence and in the 65th minute came drama. Amoah broke into the Czech penalty box but was professionally fouled by Ujfalusi. Why it is called 'professional foul' when there is nothing professional eludes me, but once again the referee, Argentinian Horacio Elizondo, took longer than necessary to deal the red card and usher Ujfalusi off, as if he wanted to be seen to be astute in his officiation. Because Ujfalusi failed to move, Elizondo blew the whistle for his attention, and with Gyan's back to all, the striker mistook the whistle as the audible indication to take the spot kick. Goal scored, Ujfalusi off, the referee then proceeds to BOOK Gyan for taking the spot kick when the referee was not ready. It was a ludicrous decision and the referee at that point was an ass.

The booking now couples with that from the Italy game to suspend Gyan from the last match with the USA, and I sincerely hope it can be rescinded otherwise it will add more bewilderment to FIFA's already crumbling stature, but I doubt any appeal will be upheld for that would open the floodgates. Gyan was permitted to re-take the kick, which cannoned off the right post and across goal away from danger. That may have been perceived as consolation for the Czech, they took go for broke with 4-4-1 or stay defensive with 4-1-3-1 but it was Ghana making the most of time with Gyan, Amoah and Sulley Muntari causing multiple chaos on Cech's brilliant handling.

But in the 82nd minute, the Czech resistence weakened, Gyan dragging attention by moving intot he box and then knocking the ball to Muntari, who stepped inside and smacked the ball hard past Cech. The game was over, and the group now opened to accompany Ghana's more prosperous hopes of qualification.



Blogger T said...

agree Redsman, the booking of Gian was ridiculous and it would be nice to think that the FIFA observers at the game would ask on Gian's behalf that it be rescinded.

But like you, I don't expect this to happen.

I really was much more impressed with Ghana this time round... the inclusion of Addo Oddo made a big difference. I remember seeing this guy in 2001 play in the UEFA Cup and was very impressed by his play. He bought good experience, ability and work-rate to the Ghana midfield.... and it made me wonder why he was not selected against Italy?

On the other hand, I feel sorry for the Czech's. They have a great side but currently their best two strikers are unfit to finish off their excellent football. Until the Ufulusi sending-off they were creating excellent attacks but were unable to apply the killer finish. I also thought Rosicky had another excellent game- to me his game definitely has the look of a young Robert Pires and I can't wait to see him on the pitch with Henry, Fabregas, Hleb, etc.

6/19/2006 12:58 pm


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