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Analysing How Andre Ayew, Inaki and Ghana’s Top Stars Performed at Club Level After AFCON 2023 Exit
- Ghana crashed out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the group stages
- Meanwhile a number of Ghana's contingent have gotten over the shock exit
- Andre Ayew bagged a brace, while Inaki notched a goal on their club returns
Ghana experienced one of its poorest showings at the ongoing 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, failing to secure a victory in all three group matches.
Placed in Group B alongside record champions Egypt, emerging force Cape Verde, and underdogs Mozambique, the Black Stars only managed to garner two points from a possible nine.
Following a surprising 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde, the four-time African champions still had control of their fate ahead of the final group game against Mozambique after drawing 2-2 with Egypt.
Post-elimination from the biennial competition, marking the second consecutive group stage exit, Ghana's 27-man squad has returned to club action.
Sports Brief evaluates the performances of Chris Hughton's charges over the past week as they continue to express sincere apologies to Ghanaians for their dismal display in Ivory Coast.
Let's begin with the captain and leader of the Ivory Coast mission, Andre Ayew. Despite making his eighth appearance at the AFCON and etching his name in history books, Andre was involved in a mistake that led to one of Mozambique's goals.
Nevertheless, he bounced back from the disappointment with a masterful performance for Le Havre. He scored his first goal for the French side just 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Additionally, he netted a spectacular overhead kick, contributing to a thrilling six-goal draw and salvaging a point for his team, Ghanasoccernet reports.
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Ghana's star-boy truly made his mark in his inaugural AFCON appearance, netting two goals in as many matches and securing two Man of the Match awards, highlighting his unquestionable quality.
The 23-year-old will have ample time to process Ghana's surprising AFCON exit before returning to the field to aid the Hammers in restoring their campaign, given that the East London club struggled to secure a win in Kudus' absence.
The figure currently bearing the brunt of criticism from disappointed Ghanaians for his costly misjudgement in the Mozambique game, Ofori, will have some time off before potentially guarding the goal for Orlando Pirates.
The Buccaneers are scheduled to resume action on February 13 against Chippa United in the South African Premier Soccer League.
One player struggling to find a seamless balance between club form and national team football is Inaki Williams.
Similar to Andre, Inaki was culpable of gifting a goal in Ghana's second group game against Egypt.
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Despite his disappointment at the AFCON, the 29-year-old quickly rebounded by coming off the bench to inspire Athletic Bilbao to a Copa del Rey victory against Barcelona.
According to Pulse Sports, barely 24 hours after Ghana's exit from the competition, he contributed with a goal and an assist as Bilbao stunned Xavi's men at the Estadio San Mames.
However, he couldn't replicate the same form in the subsequent La Liga game against Cadiz, failing to score in that match.
The experienced defender, who had a limited role in Ghana's disastrous AFCON performance, had a brief six-minute appearance upon his return to club football.
Amartey's team, Besiktas, endured a disappointing result as he continues to process the events that unfolded in Ivory Coast.
The Tamale-born goalkeeper found himself among several members of Ghana's contingent who didn't see any action during the disastrous AFCON campaign.
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Inexplicably, Ati-Zigi played second fiddle to the error-prone Richard Ofori at the football festival. However, his return to club football did little to strengthen his case for displacing the latter.
The 27-year-old was in goal for St. Gallen as they conceded four goals in their 4-1 home defeat to Lugano in the Swiss top-flight.
One of the few bright spots for the Black Stars, Alexander Djiku, initially made the bench against Besiktas in his first game after Ghana’s AFCON exit.
However, he quickly returned to the starting lineup as Fenerbahce maintained their position at the top of the Turkish Super Lig with a victory over Ankaragucu.
The left-back was a constant presence in the starting lineup for Ivory Coast.
However, he did not make the squad for Ligue 1-chasing Auxerre, who drew 1-1 with Grenoble on January 23 and shared the spoils again against Guingamp four days later in the second tier of the French football pyramid.
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Meanwhile, Odoi, who patrolled Ghana's right-hand side of defence, played for 12 minutes in Club Brugge’s comprehensive victory over Sporting Charleroi upon his return to club action.
Abdul Salis Samed
The midfield anchor was afforded a paltry two minutes in RC Lens' 2-0 win against Toulouse in the French top-flight. He is expected to see his game time drastically increase in the coming days as Lens chase European places on his return from AFCON.
Paintsil was the architect of one of Ghana's two penalties against Mozambique, and had Chris Hughton not inexplicably deemed the winger 'fatigued,' he might have caused more havoc.
Nevertheless, there's no need to dwell on what could have been, as the 25-year-old played the full duration in Genk's 1-1 draw with St. Truiden in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League.
The scorer of Ghana’s two goals in the disappointing 2-2 draw with Mozambique was not in action for Crystal Palace over the weekend, as the Eagles will have to wait until January 30 when they face off against Sheffield United in the Premier League, following their earlier exit in the Emirates FA Cup.
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Semenyo made the bench for Bournemouth in their emphatic 5-0 trouncing of Swansea in the FA Cup. Interestingly, his next assignment for the Cherries will be a Premier League clash with Mohammed Kudus’s West Ham United.
A revitalizing presence in an otherwise lacklustre midfield, Ashimeru's persistent injury forced him to conclude his time on the field against Mozambique prematurely, and as anticipated, he won't be making any appearances for Anderlecht in the foreseeable future as he gradually recovers from his injury.
Salisu was visibly crestfallen after witnessing his side concede two goals for the third consecutive occasion, this time in heart-wrenching circumstances against the Mambas.
He has since issued an apology for threatening a journalist following Ghana's AFCON exit. He played the full duration for AS Monaco in their thrilling four-goal encounter against Marseille.
The defensive midfielder appeared to be a mere shadow of the player Ghanaians admired in the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Nigeria, as he seemed lost in the middle of the park for the Black Stars.
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Upon his return to club football, Baba found himself on the bench for Almeria as Deportivo Alaves humbled his side, deepening their struggles in the relegation battle.
One of the players expected to make a mark at the 2023 AFCON due to his explosive performances for Crvena Zvezda, but an unfortunate moment against Egypt derailed his entire campaign. He has not been included in the team squad for matchdays in the two games that Crvena has played since Ghana was knocked out of the AFCON.
Similar to Bukari, Nuamah was anticipated to shine at the AFCON, but due to Ghana's short-lived presence in the competition and the coach's lack of trust, he only accumulated a meagre 29 minutes on the field.
Upon his return to Olympique Lyon, the 20-year-old winger came on as a second-half substitute. Although not scoring, he contributed to his side's comeback, helping them recover two goals from a three-goal deficit.
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The 26-year-old midfielder has not played for Auxerre since returning to club football after Ghana's early exit. He played just two minutes for the Black Stars at the competition.
The diminutive, assertive, and versatile defender is on the verge of completing a move to Stade Rennes, and therefore, he has not featured for Clermont Foot yet. Alidu's time at the Africa Cup of Nations saw him accumulate just 19 minutes on the field.
The third-choice Black Stars goalkeeper is yet to make an appearance for Hibernian since his return from the AFCON. His side has played twice in the Scottish topflight, drawing once and losing the other.
Sowah has secured a lucrative deal with Al Nasr SC Benghazi following Ghana's elimination. The 25-year-old forward has scored 19 goals in 35 matches since the previous season, with seven goals in 15 Ghana Premier League matches this season. However, he did not make a single appearance at the biennial competition.
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Hamidu Abdul Fatawu
Hamidu, a product of Ghana's top-tier league, found himself in the team as a backup to Gideon Mensah during the AFCON but did not get any playing time for obvious reasons. Now, he is expected to play a role in helping his club, Medeama, as they strive to restore their form in defending the title.
After stepping into the big shoes of Mohammed Kudus in Ghana's initial defeat against Cape Verde, Ransford struggled to secure a spot in the matchday squad for the Black Stars.
This trend has continued since his return to Hamburg, with his team playing two games and his most significant involvement being a place on the bench in the match against Karlsruher.
The Amiens defender has yet to feature in a match since returning to club football. He has been omitted from the matchday squad, which will likely allow him to catch up with his teammates after being inactive for Ghana in all three games.
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One of the home-based players to make the 27-man squad, Lamptey will only return to action for Asante Kotoko after the AFCON when the Ghana Premier League and FA Cup resumes.