It feels like Ghana took many steps forward and one step back when they were defeated 1-0 by Kenya away in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Nicholas Opoku’s first-half own goal gave Kenya their first competitive win over Ghana, boosted their own qualification hopes from Group F and, while it has not dented Ghana’s chances of reaching an eighth straight AFCON immensely, it has put many of coach Kwesi Appiah’s decisions under scrutiny again.
Ghana still top Group F on account of a healthy goal difference with all four teams on three points after Ethiopia beat Sierra Leone 1-0 on Sunday. The result in Nairobi means the double-header against Sierra Leone next month has taken on added importance for Appiah.
Before then there will also be a lot of time for the former Ghana captain to reflect on some of his decisions, with various controversial calls by the manager generating debate since the defeat.
It was a performance that threw up some familiar Ghana problems, but none as loud as the theme of poor finishing.
Thomas Partey, a regular source of goals for Ghana in the last year just could not find range this time, Afriyie Acquah was delivering clearing headers instead of finishing ones, and Raphael Dwamena’s finishing was uncharacteristically below par.
“Everyone who watched the game knows we would have won if we had taken our chances,” midfielder Christian Atsu said . “We had a lot of possession and created a lot of chances, but these things happen.”
Atsu is clear, though, that the result won’t alter the bigger picture for Ghana.