September 24, 2021

Ghana defender Fatawu: I was afraid of FNB Stadium in South Africa

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The Hearts of Oak right-back reflects on Monday’s appearance against Bafana Bafana in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers

Ghana fullback Mohammed Fatawu has admitted he was overawed by the occasion of playing against South Africa at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday.

On the books of Ghana Premier League champions Hearts of Oak, the right-back saw 90 minutes of action as the Black Stars succumbed to 1-0 away defeat in Group G of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The match was his first appearance for CK Akonnor’s side, chosen ahead of fellow home-based competitor Philemon Baffour of Dreams, and having benefited from the absence of Ghana first-choice right-back Andy Yiadom, who was restricted from the game by his English club.

“Honestly, I got a bit scared when I saw the stadium because the pitch is very huge and it wouldn’t have been easy with supporters in the stands because the moment you enter the stadium, you realise that indeed you are in a stadium,” Fatawu, captain of his club side who claimed a league and cup double last season, told Angel FM.

“But at long last, we played in an empty stadium so that eased some pressure off. If the supporters had been there the way the pressure was high it (the pressure) would have been more. But without the supporters, it felt like no man’s land.”

Ghana played Monday’s game without six first-team players who started for the side in a 1-0 win over Ethiopia on Friday.

The unavailability of those players has not spared coach Akonnor from receiving a lot of stick for his selection and the outcome of the game.

The trainer, meanwhile, lamented the unavailability of about six first-choice options, owing to coronavirus-induced restrictions.

“The whole issue has been a problem, not just me but other national team coaches across the world. Today, you have a plan, tomorrow you wake up and a player has Covid-19 and he cannot join the team. Others are not allowed to join the team for the same reason,” Akonnor said.

“I don’t know if Caf and Fifa are handling the situation well because one may ask, can’t we play somewhere else if we cannot bring our players here? There are so many questions to answer and it’s not making us comfortable. It’s so difficult.

“We come under severe pressure from our nation, we have to win at all cost. Yet this Covid-19 issue has become a major setback and I don’t know if Caf and Fifa are handling the situation very well.”

Fatawu was a late addition to Ghana’s squad for the double-header following the injury withdrawal of Slovakia-based Benson Anang.

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