Head coach of the Black Stars, Charles Akonnor has come out in defense of his goalkeeper, Razak Abalora after the goalkeeper’s latest howler in a Black Stars jersey.
The senior national team engaged their Moroccan counterparts in an international friendly in Rabat, and the Black Stars looked set to take a return flight to the city capital with a draw.
However, an Abalora error meant Ghana left Rabat with nothing.
The goalkeeper has been under scrutiny ever since his Black Stars debut, and Tuesday’s miscalculations served him no reprieve. Akonnor nevertheless believes, this is the period where the 24-year-old needs support.
“He’s made a mistake – he knows himself, but we are not in a position to kill him. We need each and everyone, and yes we have to move on. We have to encourage him. He’s a good goalkeeper, no doubt about that, we will not kill him. We will encourage him to improve,” he said in a post-game interview.
On a night where a one nil loss will definitely send bad signals to many fans already put off by many issues associated with the senior national team, there were several positives to pick out from the game.
In contrast to earlier matches since Akonnor’s debut as head coach, the Black Stars looked very organized and disciplined, showing bright instances of switching the ball from defense into attack.
There were also positives on an individual level; Mohammed Kudus, Daniel Amartey and Christopher Opoku attracted plaudits for their impressive performances.
Mohammed Kudus who plays for Ajax, has emerged as one of the brightest talents in Europe and Akonnor reckons he is a player the Black Stars can rely on. However, the coach expressed disappointment on the team’s loss.
“He’s [Kudus] a good player, fantastic. At every given time, a moment of magic can always come from him, our captain, the brother and everybody – I think we played with some team spirit, understanding and that excites me. I’m very, very happy about that. I’m not happy that we lost, so we need to look forward on how to improve within that area and that is what my thinking is going now,” he explained.
Daniel Amartey made a return to the Black Stars following a torrid two-year spell battling injuries, and barely featuring for Leicester upon his return from his woes.
However, the defender played 90 minutes for the Black Stars in Rabat, striking very dominant partnerships with Opoku before later, Alexander Dziku as the former was withdrawn due to injury concerns.
Akonnor expressed his joy with the defender’s output and return.
“Fantastic. I mean he’s a disciplined boy, very, very disciplined. I have known him before becoming the head coach of the Black Stars and when I went to Europe when he was injured, I visited him, spoke to him and waited for the moment, and he’s here. I think he’s a very positive add-on to the team. He’s been away for a long time and the fact that he’s performed this way. When you are away for a long time, there must be some [downsides] and you didn’t see that,” the head coach eulogized.”
The Black Stars will begin preparations for Cote d’Ivoire in another international friendly.