Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ghana & Guinea.

As I watch more of these matches, I'm sure I'll come away with a better idea of what I should expect as far as quality of play is concerned. It seemed choppy early, particularly in contrast to thirty minutes of the Barcelona v. Racing match I watched a replay of later this evening. It's possible that was due to nerves, the halftime analysts said that the opening match is usually of poor quality, so maybe tomorrow will be make for a better 90 minutes, rather than 90 minutes of alright with intermittent flashes of brilliance.

As for the game, it was only surprising it was as close as it was. After a few early chances for Guinea, Ghana dominated the rest of the first half, maintaining possession for nearly 60% of the period. They had an 11-1 corner advantage and should have found themselves up, with at least something on the board after three shot attempts knocked off the woodwork, including one hitting the inside and bouncing out. Guinea was lucky to still have a chance at a point.

Both teams would get on the board in the second, Asamoah Gyan knocked in a penalty, ten minutes later, Oumar Kalabane tied it up with a header off a corner. The quality of the challenge on the play that led to the penalty, and the ensuing first goal, was debatable, on one hand Kalabane missed the ball, but it still didn't really look as though he made significant contact with Agogo. I wonder about the art of the flop, and if the referee would have made the same decision had Agogo stayed down on the pitch and writhed, rather than rolling and quickly getting back up. However questionable the call, it was a brilliant play on his part, not over-selling the contact.

Ultimately, the team I'd incorrectly assumed was the favorite won, and in spectacular fashion. In a game full of missed chances, Sully Muntari's impeccable game winner from about 25 yards out in the 89th minute seemed a near miracle. By that time I was openly rooting for Guinea, that a point should have been theirs, as Ghana had appeared desperate late to come away with more, relying on the long ball and forgoing the midfield in order to create quick shot attempts. I was disappointed Guinea weren't able to hold on, but at least the defeat came after a fantastic shot.

Also, and maybe it's just me, but Claude LeRoy, aka "The White Witch Doctor" needs more screen time. The horrified gasp in the room that came after the close-up of him smiling was priceless. Apparently he looks exactly like Mad-Eye Moody from Harry Potter. Who knew?

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