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AFCON 2021: How impactful will Mohammed Kudus’ imminent arrival be for Ghana?

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Ghana could be boosted by the imminent of Mohammed Kudus in camp ahead of their next group game in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

The Ajax midfielder, despite being named in the final 28-man squad for the competition in Cameroon, did not join his national teammates as they travelled to the Central African country and he continued his recovery process. Instead, the talented midfielder joined his club’s mid-season tour to Portugal as part of getting fitter and better for the second part of the season.

Kudus is yet to feature in a competitive game for both club and country since coming off in the first half of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier clash with South Africa in November last year. Prior to their opening game against Morocco, head coach, Milovan Rajevac said he was confident of having the youngster along the course of the tournament.

“Kudus got injured in our last game against SA, he started training recently with his club (Ajax) so we are expecting him to join us in the coming days, a week’s time when he is fully fit and hopefully we can count on him as the tournament progresses,” Rajevac said in his presser.

Ghana opened their AFCON campaign on Monday, as they lost 1-0 to Morocco through a Sofiane Boufal strike in the 83rd minute of the game. The game, which was also the Black Stars’ 100th game in the continental showpiece, saw Milovan Rajevac’s side manage just two shots on target.

Following the outcome of the first group game, Kudus’ name has been mentioned in the camp of the Black Stars with some attributing the lack of chances created on the path of Ghana to the player’s unavailability.

However, the latest reports in the Ghanaian media space indicates that the 21-year-old has been given the all-clear by the Ajax medical team to join Ghana in Cameroon after the latest conversation between the Dutch side and the Ghana Football Association.

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With the midfielder set to jet off to  Yaounde before the game against Gabon, Premier League News Now takes a look at how Ghana could benefit from Kudus’ imminent arrival:

Ball Progression

Knowing the kind of player Kudus is, the midfielder will contribute to the team’s progression of the ball to the opposition half. In the game against Morocco, Ghana struggled to progress the ball as the midfield player found it difficult to find spaces to drive with the ball. In Kudus’, the Black Stars will have someone who is not afraid to push the ball even from his own half while beating his markers with ease.

Creativity

Andre Ayew was deployed as the central attacking midfielder against the Atlas Lions, a position many few the skipper did not fill to their expectation. In the past games, Kudus has been the spark to Ghana’s creativity. His ability to fill identify spaces and occupy them as well as his vision to pick up players in tight areas was something Ghana lacked against Morocco. In 10 appearances for the national team, the youngster has netted three times for Ghana and speaks volumes about what he is capable of doing at the tournament.

Ball Retention

If there is anyone who is capable of beating the press in this Ghanaian side, that player is the Ajax starman. Kudus has the ability to beat press easily while keeping the ball to his feet. To think that Kamaldeen Sulemana and Andy Yiadom lost possession for a combined 31 times was worrying and that is one of the solutions a player like Kudus brings to the team.

With a good partnership between himself and Thomas Partey, Kudus could also be adding a bit of power to the Ghana midfield. In his absence the Arsenal midfielder was unable to string the passes to the attacking midfielder nor drive forward with the ball as the lack of understanding with Ayew was far evident.

Kudus may not be the instant answer to Ghana’s problems but the team stands to gain a lot with his presence and hopefully, that creates the environment they so much desire.

Ghana plays Gabon in their next game on Friday, January 14 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.

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