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The Bizarre Reason Why Error Prone Ofori Who Cost Ghana at AFCON 2023 Was No.1 Goalie Explained
- Ghana's AFCON elimination has been blamed on Richard Ofori's costly mistake
- Ofori was inexplicably picked as Ghana's No.1 despite not being active at club level
- The real reason why he was preferred to man the post has been uncovered
Ghana's campaign in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations proved disastrous as the four-time African champions exited the tournament during the group stages.
The sleeping West African giants, once feared by opponents, experienced a downturn, suffering a surprising 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde and securing 2-2 draws against Egypt and Mozambique to exit the competition in embarrassing circumstances.
Throughout the tournament, a glaring issue for the Black Stars was their inability to fend off opponents, marked by several defensive errors, particularly 'schoolboy' mistakes.
One such error proved costly in the game against Mozambique, where goalkeeper Richard Ofori's inexplicable mistake led to the equalizing goal, ultimately preventing Ghana from advancing to the round of 16.
Ofori's schoolboy mistake costs Ghana
The critical moment unfolded after team captain Andre Ayew's handball in the box resulted in a penalty, converted by Genny Catamo in the first minute of additional time.
With only minutes left, Ghana needed to hold on to a narrow 2-1 lead after their opponents had halved the deficit.
However, Ofori's questionable decision-making changed the course of the game. Faced with a miscued shot heading for a goal kick, Ofori's indecision led him to touch the ball, resulting in a corner kick.
Despite the initial defensive effort, Mozambique found the equaliser with a powerful header, devastating the Ghanaian supporters, who had been vociferous since the start of the game, at the Stade Alassane Ouattara.
This has led to many questioning why the now-dissolved technical team led by Chris Hughton chose Richard ahead of Lawrence Ati-Zigi, who had been Ghana's No.1 goalie at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
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The Ofori, Ati-Zigi goalkeeping conundrum
The decision to start Ofori over Ati-Zigi, the No.1 goalkeeper at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, was puzzling, but Hughton and his backroom staff were convinced in the former Legon Cities goalkeeper for whatever reason, which was definitely not sporting.
Ati-Zigi, who had displayed match fitness and form with 18 appearances in the Swiss top flight for St. Gallen per Transfermarkt, was anticipated to be the preferred choice.
However, for reasons initially unknown, Ofori got the nod despite his lower standing in the pecking order at Orlando Pirates, making the decision perplexing.
Chris Hughton's faith in Ofori
When asked about his confidence in Richard, who hadn't made an appearance in any domestic match for Pirates this season due to limited playing time, Hughton stated, as quoted by GOAL:
“Certainly, over the years, the goalkeeping situation is a different and difficult one; sometimes you will have who is regular at his club, and sometimes you’ll have one who’s not such a regular but can do a fantastic job with the national team."
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The 65-year-old coach had great trust in Ofori, stating that he 'had never let the nation down'.
“These are the things we take into consideration regarding Richard's qualities. He’s a big personality and someone that I would like to think because I can only speak on a short space of time… but Dede [Ayew] can speak for a longer period, that Richard Ofori is someone who has never let the nation down as regards to availability and the job he’s done," he added.
The real reason why Ofori was chosen
Recent reports have revisited Hughton's decision-making process.
According to respected Ghanaian sports journalist Saddick Adams, during the technical meeting ahead of Ghana’s first match at AFCON 2023, the official report from the Goalkeeper’s Trainer gave a curious reason for their choice.
Regarding the selection of Ofori as the first choice, Richard Kingson, the then Goalkeeper's Trainer, stated that the former Maritzburg United shot-stopper was a “lucky” goalkeeper.
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This was the primary rationale, even though the shot-stopper was not regularly playing competitive football at the club level.
Ghana suffer AFCON elimination
Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Ghana suffered elimination from the ongoing 2023 AFCON after conceding twice in added time to draw 2-2 with Mozambique in their final Group B game.
Geny Catamo and Reinildo Mandava's goals earned Mozambique a point, denying the West African powerhouse a spot in the round of 16. This marks Ghana's second failure to qualify for the knockout round in the past three editions.