The Sheikh’s Drawing Board: How Burkina Faso remained impregnable to pip Ghana at home

The Local Stallions of Burkina Faso are gradually establishing themselves as the nemesis of Ghana’s home-based Black Stars after pipping the Ghanaians at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in the first leg of the 2020 Championship of Africa Nations (CHAN) qualified.

With the last kick of the game in additional time, Yannick Pognongo fired home the winner for the visitors leaving the Ghanaian side dejected and shocked.

How did Maxwell Konadu, for the second time in two years, fail to strategize to defeat the Burkinabes who defeated the same side by 2-1 in 2017 at the same venue?

Are the Local Stallions becoming the nemesis of Maxwell Konadu and his boys or it was luck that eluded the Ghanaian side denying them the maximum points?

The Sheikh’s Drawing Board will take us through the tactical exchanges between Maxwell Konadu and his Burkinabe counterpart.

Static Formations

Ghana: 4-4-2 (4-5-1)
Felix Annan (GK)

Fatawu Mohammed
Moro Ibrahim
Alhassan Mohammed
Habib Mohammed

Appiah McCarthy
Justice Blay
Augustine Okrah
Emmanuel Gyamfi

Joseph Esso
Shafiwu Mumuni

Burkina Faso 4-5-1 (4-6-0)
Babayoure Sawadogo Abuobacar (GK)

Cedric Kabore
Abass Traore
Ismael Zagre
Sosso Lagwene

Faical Ouedraogo
Aliou Adjibade
Wenkome Zougrana
Mody Cisse

Ismahila Ouedraogo
Yannick Pognongo

Game Plans and Strategies

Both teams had different game plans hence their line ups. Ghana wanted to take the Burkinabes by surprise and score more goals to make the second leg a mere formality but the Local Stallions had different plans, and surely, it worked for them.

With Maxwell’s line up, clearly, it was evident from the blast of whistle that Ghana wanted to score many goals hence having Shafiwu and Esso leading the attack while Okrah and Gyamfi stretch the defenders and put in beautiful crosses for Shafiwu who is good with aerial balls.

But the Burkinabes had a different idea. Their game plan was to avoid defeat and return to Ouagadougou with a point but they had three in the end.

Because of their game plan of securing just a point from Ghana, they always had their men behind the ball defending, hence forcing the system from 4-5-1 to 4-6-0.

Their play was a crystal demonstration of a well rehearsed strategy and they kept being disciplned without throwing away the coaches game plan.

With Burkina Faso in to defend for the entire duration of the game and determined to pick just a point, the efforts of Augustine Okrah and Emmanuel Gyamfi were limited as they were not given enough space to be dangerous.

This explains why Okrah and Gyamfi kept swapping on the flanks but the result never came as the Stallions were just at ease since they were not under any pressure to speed up the game.

The deep defending by the Burkinabes and their game plan of just picking a point forced the Black Stars B to be playing in their own half as the visitors kept staying in the shells.

Appiah McCarthy and Justice Blay were just allowed to be kicking the ball around in the midfield without threatening the opponent’s goal area.

The play maker on the day for Ghana was supposed to be Augustine Okrah but he had been policed and was hardly given room to operate.

The style of play of Justice Blay and Appiah McCarthy look similar, hence leaving the Black Stars with no creative player.

All this while, Burkina Faso were still defending gallantly and were not ready to attack before the first half ended.

Moro Ibrahim and Fatawu Mohammed were supposed to play the decoy role by supplying the Shafiwu Mumuni and Joseph Esso with crosses but because the Burkinabes had just mastered the defensive game plan.

The second half saw a completely better Ghana side with the introduction of James Akaminko and Emmanuel Ocran for Appiah McCarthy and Emmanuel Gyamfi respectively.

With this, Blay was pushed forward a little while Okrah drafted into the midfield with Akaminko creating the openings and controls the game.

Ocran swiftly turned the throne in the flesh of the Burkinabes, turning in beautiful crosses and taking on his marker to creat several chances.

But goalkeeper Babayoure was up to it. He made all the saves and stopped all the dangerous balls from hitting the back of the net.

Ghana kept pushing, looking for openings to capitalize on and break the virginity of the game but it was just not coming.

The Burkinabes then adopted the North-African strategy of frustrating their opponents by fallen on the pitch at least to wear away time.

While Ghana kept pushing for a breakthrough the Burkinabes had a quick counter attack with just a minute to end proceedings and Yannick Pognongo wasted no time by firing home the winner for the Burkinabes, a result they did not expect.

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