Black Stars Head Coach C.K Akonnor has reacted positively to the output of his players in the recent International friendlies. Ghana played against neighbours Mali and Asian Champions, Qatar in two separate friendly games in Antalya, Turkey, ahead of next month’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sudan.
The Stars lost 3-0 to Mali on Friday, October 9, but made amends three days later by beating Qatar 5-1 at the Titanic Stadium in Antalya. C.K Akonnor was up in front of the GFA media team on Tuesday, to answer a few questions.
Below is Akonnor’s full interview with ghanafa.org:
Read on for a full transcript
Assessment of the two games
Well I think, one game was down to poor performance, a team that was not organised and the way of playing was poor. We didn’t look like we were ready, and the other match that was well organised in terms of keeping the team shape and not allowing the opponent to play and not giving them too much space, which we did with a very understanding, communication was there, we were ready every giving moment and as a result of that the opponent found it difficult to function very, very well, we had our chances and we scored.
On the purpose of playing the two friendlies
I am very happy at least to have an idea of the players, what one can do and what one cannot do and of course which positions the players will play and be effective and also the system of play, and so it’s giving me a clear idea of what to do in the near future and so it’s been a very good exercise for us.
On player ratings in Qatar game compared to Mali game
We functioned; I mean that is the word I want to use. We all functioned as to what to do at a every giving time, compared to the first game that we played, we didn’t do well in that sense. We were not organised, we didn’t present ourselves as a team but again, I can understand, because, one, that was our first game and of course people didn’t know each other as to how to move in terms of communications. We addressed these issues in a very serious manner and they took that in good faith and presented themselves very well in the next match, showed good attitude in terms of the way we play and the way one worked for each other and that was what I wanted.
On the win against Qatar taking some pressure off him
For me it as an exercise, this was my first chance of being with the team since I got the job. Because of covid, we were not able to meet. Its been a frustrating moment for me but again I am grateful to the GFA for organizing these exercise for us. It was very, very important going forward and like I said, it’s giving us the idea of what we should do and what we shouldn’t do and what can be done in the near future.
On the next set of players for 2022 AFCON qualifiers
Well it is tough enough to get the players who couldn’t make it on board for the next game. But the players who came, everybody has shown his talent, what he can do and what he cannot do. Most probably, we have around 40 players in our data, it means that when we are going to a match and we look at the strength of the opponent, we look at the qualities we have and what can be efficient and effective for us and we make the call ups. But of course, the likes of Kudus, John Antwi, Richard Ofori and Agbenyenu were not here but I believe that some of them will be joining us very soon for the next qualifying game.
On plans from now until next game
Well, I will have the chance to watch some games with our current squad and of course my assistant will also haver his role to play in terms of our local guys. He will work on players in the local League when the season starts and I believe that the day we assemble the squad, we would have done a good job interns of bringing the right players on board.
On relationship with assistants and backroom staff
We didn’t know each other well until we assembled here and not only this has helped us playing but it also helped us knowing each other, what I want, what I don’t, what they want and what they don’t want. And we always have a review, even this morning, we had a review of yesterday’s match and we disagree and agree but the ultimate aim is for us to be successful at the end of the day and that is what we are working towards. We will continue to improve. Not only did the players improve but we also improved in terms of preparation towards a match and I think after the first loss , we reviewed it, we spoke a lot about things we didn’t do right and in the second game, we improved in that sense and I think it helped all of us and we are happy. We want to continue to improve in that area, we want to discuss issues when one is not happy, it needs to be discussed. Like I said, we will disagree and agree but at the end of the day we are working towards a goal and that is what is important.
On aspirations for the remaining AFCON qualifiers
Of course, we want to continue from where he left off. Fortunately for me, I was there before he left and I am continuing from there. There is always heat, whether a friendly match or a competitive match and that heat will always be there and we are made of that kind of thing. Ghana will not accept any loss and therefore it is important for us to work hard to always achieve success. We have got to be alert, the way we do things and I strongly believe that once the boys come in numbers to honour that match, we will do our best to get a win.