Tag Archives: Ghana

Gyan in Danger of Legacy Lost

17 Jan

I wasn’t the only one who listened on in bewilderment as Ghana took on Chile at the PPL Park in Philadelphia at the end of February.I feel for the poor commentator and I dread to imagine to the look on his face as his gentle producer approached him calmly afterwards to inform him that the young left sided Black Star was not, in fact, Asamoah Gyan, as the unfortunate fellow had insisted on calling him, but Kwadwo Asamoah, already approaching 50 caps, and a well established player in his own right.

The commentator had insisted on announcing ‘Gyan’ proudly and profoundly every time Asamoah touched the ball or found himself in space. You can just imagine the chap’s reaction to being told he had misidentified the player for the entire match: ‘Not Gyan? Not Asamoah Gyan? Then where was he?’

Yes, exactly! Where was Asamoah Gyan, where is he, and, more to the point, where exactly is he going?

Gyan is in danger; in danger of being one of those ‘what ifs?’ of the footballing tapestry, in danger of being remembered for being a quitter at the Stadium of Light, and for a career with the Ghana team peaking with three missed penalties, on three big nights. Gyan is in danger of destroying his legacy, and losing the chance to lead a truly exciting generation of Black Stars on towards future challenges.

I begin with the third of these aforementioned penalties; Bata, February 8th, an Afcon semi final against Zambia, a place in the Libreville final at stake.

Ghana were awarded a penalty in the first half. A penalty so early in the game, particularly early in a game only settled in the dying minutes, might not be the natural point to consider when analysing the game’s outcome. Inevitably, however, it has been, and Gyan’s miss – an indecisive shot struck not quite far enough from Kennedy Mweene – led directly to the striker calling time on his international career.

Following the miss, and the subsequent defeat, the Ghanaian people seemed to close in on the team. As has been the case in various African nations following tournament disappointments (see Nigeria 2010 among others) a spate of finger pointing, name calling and vowed retribution ensued. This year it was Ghana’s turn, and a litany of complaints followed the team’s exit; murmurs of black magic, an embattled Serbian coach unsure of his future, vitriolic public reaction, and then Gyan’s retirement.

I imagine the history behind the latest miss wasn’t lost on the majority of fans. Cast your minds back to South Africa, 2010, the dying embers of a quarter final, an African team, on African soil, the whiff of the semis thudding against the back of their nostrils, Uruguay on the ropes, Suarez in disgrace, and Gyan fluffed it…and fluffed it spectacularly, blazing the ball against the cross bar and up into the Sowetan sky.

I recall that miss as perhaps the stand out moment of the tournament, I enjoyed the match memorably on a balmy evening in Kensington, yet cursed irreverently at Gyan’s miss. At the time the narrative was of Gyan the courageous, Gyan the brave, Gyan who stepped up moments after to open scoring in the shootout. It certainly was brave, it certainly was bold, and Gyan deserves the sympathy, but I can’t help think, as he reflects on his career many years from now, he will recall that miss, the ball sailing off, head in hands, and the collective groan of a continent, as a devastating moment of loss. Marcel Desailly, bursting blood vessels in the ITV studio, would surely agree.

I believe that there is more to come from this Black Stars team. Whilst Mark Gleeson, among others, suggested they ‘ran out of steam’ during the Cup of Nations, I was impressed by their dominance in the earlier rounds of the tournament; particularly the dynamism of young Kwadwo Asamoah, the emergence of John Boye, and the defiance of Anthony Annan, playing on despite his mother’s death.

It appeared to be in the final third that Ghana were unable to convince. Blogs such asZonalMarking.net identified that whilst this was a team suited to the counter attack, they lacked the creativity and attacking verve to truly devastate inferior opposition, and to capitalise on the possession they were inevitably afforded in the continental arena. The premature retirement of Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, one of the first to console and encourage Gyan after his World Cup miss, has compounded this lack of cutting edge. It is an issue that will not be helped by Gyan’s self-imposed international absence.

The third penalty miss I mentioned, and the first chronologically, came in the 2006 World Cup, and Ghana’s group defeat of the Czech Republic. Here, the miss was inconsequential, with Gyan being one of two scorers to secure an historic 2-0 victory in the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne. His goal in this game was also the fastest in the tournament, coming only 68 seconds into the contest.

I close with this memory because it was the tournament, and perhaps the match, which first brought this exciting, attacking player to the collective perception of the footballing fraternity. Despite having already enjoyed several years prior with Udinese, this was the summer when the name ‘Asamoah Gyan’ and his slightly incongruous number 3 shirt began to mean something to the casual fans from disparate football upbringings.

I, for one, was enchanted by the pleasure with which he approached the game, his tireless running, his inventive movement, and of course, his dancing celebration – one of the ‘feel good’ moments (excuse the cliché) of that World Cup. I was lucky enough to witness all of this first hand as I watched Sunderland/Tottenham at the Stadium of Light in February 2011.

Gyan’s time at Sunderland, like his international career to date, started brightly, filled with promise, only t0 dissipate into bad feeling and disappointment. The player is currently on loan at Al Ain in the UAE. The facts still aren’t completely clear regarding the move; a falling out with Steve Bruce perhaps, sadness at the departure of Darren Bent, an offer the club simply couldn’t refuse? It may never be cleared up. There were rumours of Martin O’Neill wanting to bring Gyan back to the North East, and whilst I would enjoy seeing his strong attacking vitality and opportunistic finishing once more in the Premier League, it is leading the line for Ghana where I really want to see Baby Jet back.

This is a young Ghana team, but an immensely talented collection of players, plying their trade in leagues across the world, and for a number of Europe’s top clubs. With the indefatigable Stephen Appiah seemingly fatigued for good, and with Michael Essien spending more time in the physio’s room that out of it in West London, the team craves a figurehead, a unifying totem to lead them through World Cup Qualification and onto future glory. I hope that Asamoah Gyan can be that man, and can reinvigorate a legacy in grave danger of being lost.

Ed Dove, London
Eddy_Dove@Hotmail.com
Twitter ~ @EddyDove
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Predicting the Ghana Squad ahead of the Afcon

15 Jan


Predicting the Ghana Squad ahead of the Afcon
With the Africa Cup of Nations less than 2 months away, Goal Africa correspondent Ed Dove looks inside Kwesi Appiah’s mind to assess the likely makeup of the Black Stars squad come January.
Goalkeepers
Dead Certs
Adam Kwarasey
Ghana’s Number 1: It’s hard to look too far beyond the Stromgodset man – an impressive Afcon could put a number of top European clubs on alert.
Probable
Fatau Dauda
The Ashanti stopper has experience of the Cup of Nations, having travelled to the 2008 edition. After a competent performance against Cape Verde, he is likely to be included again this time around.
Possible
Ernest Sowah, Daniel Adjei
An early regular in Appiah’s squads, Sowah hasn’t been selected since the first leg against Malawi, whilst a recent recall for Liberty Professionals youngster Daniel Adjei suggests he may well be back in the boss’s plans.
Unlikely
Phil McCarthy
Defenders
Dead Certs
Isaac Vorsah, John Boye, Harrison Afful
Appiah has some big decisions to make in defence, with many talented options. Three men who can be confident of their plane tickets are centreback partnership Isaac Vorsah and John Boye, as well as left back of choice, Harrison Afful. Whilst Vorsah’s fitness is a potential headache for Ghana selectors, if the centre back recovers from his recent injury woes, it is imperative that he travels.
Probables
Lee Addy, Jerry Akaminko, Jonathan Mensah, Sam Inkoom, John Mensah
Competition for defensive places is fierce, with several players optimistic of featuring, despite not currently being signed to a club, John Mensah is a comfortable bet to make the squad after being handed the ‘general captaincy’ role.
                Inkoom appears favourite to take the right back spot, whilst Jonathan, Lee Addy, and in-form Jerry Akaminkolook likely to battle for the centre back berths.
Possibles
John Paintsil, David Addy, Daniel Opare, Richard Boateng, Razak Nuhu
Portuguese-based David Addy has been welcomed back into the fold in recent times, and despite not yet realising the great promise he showed as a youngster, could one day be a serious option at left back. Opare’s versatility will be tempting for the coach, whilst John Paintsil offers experience, and will surely be hopeful after being recalled for the last two squads.
                Boateng and Nuhuare youthful prospects that have integrated well into the squad under Appiah.
Unlikely
Nana Asare, Masahudu Alhassan, Mohamed Awal, Rashid Sumaila
After having been overlooked previously, Nana Asare was another to be recalled for the recent friendly against Cape Verde. Despite a solid performance against the islanders, it’s hard to imagine the Utrecht man forcing himself into the squad ahead of some of the aforementioned. A favourite of Goran Stefanovic, Alhassanfeatured at the last Afcon. Unfortunately, the youngster has been ignored ever since, and Appiah looks unlikely to recall him anytime soon.
Midfield
Dead Certs
Tony Annan, Kwadwo Asamoah, Emmanuel Badu, Atsu
This quadrant of midfield masters are the heart and soul of the Black Stars, and it would be almost impossible to envisage a successful Afcon campaign without their tenacity, touch, and talent. Any of the four could emerge as the tournament’s standout star.
Probables
Derek Boateng, Solomon Asante
Having been dropped unceremoniously from Ghana’s second leg bout against Malawi, Derek Boateng has a point to prove with the Black Stars. A recall for the Cape Verde friendly suggests the Dnipro man is still part of Appiah’s plans, and he is likely to have the chance to rediscover his previously imperious form for Ghana at the Afcon.
                After fears over his eligibility to play for the Black Stars were cleared, Berekum Chelsea midfielder Asantehas been a regular feature in Appiah’s squads, suggesting his is in a good position to make the cut.
Possibles
Alfriyie Acquah, Albert Adomah, Sulley Muntari, Mubarak Wakaso, Eddie Gyimah, Isaac Coffie, Laryea Kingston, Mohammed Rabiu,
With a number of midfield spots still up for grabs, several players are in with a shot at selection – many of whom offer the coach something different.
                Sulley Muntari brings experience and a big game temperament, and should travel if he can overcome his recent injury-ravaged months.
                One of the most intriguing candidates is Laryea Kingston. Once a national team regular, the midfielder’s stock has fallen following a disappointing time in Europe. Revitalised at Hearts of Oak, the veteran may well be capable of adding an extra dimension to the Black Stars.
Unlikely
Emmanuel Frimpong, Jebrin Torric, Frank Acheampong, Fred Duncan, Mohammed Abu
Acheampong made his Black Stars debut against China in August’s friendly, but has been overlooked ever since. At only 19 years of age, his time will come, but I imagine this Afcon will be a year or two too soon. Internazionale’s Fred Duncan is another who is likely to be kept waiting to make his Afcon impact – a debutant against Cape Verde, the Accra-born midfielder gave a competent display, but faces stiff competition for a place.
                Emmanuel Frimpong’s rehabilitation continues following last season’s horrific knee injury. Recent displays in Arsenal cup ties have been promising, but this is a young midfielder trying to find his way back into the game, and despite recently receiving clearance to compete for the national side, his focus in January is likely to be a Championship campaign on loan with Charlton, rather than Black Stars progress in South Africa.
Strikers
Dead Certs
Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Asamoah Gyan
Reintegrated into the Black Stars fold, the Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan will be Ghana’s main frontman at the Afcon. Keen to exorcise the nightmarish campaign he endured last time around, and keen to win round Black Stars fans who doubted him, look for Babyjet to make a big impact.
                Despite Appiah’s insistence that no one has a guaranteed spot in his final 23, it seems absurd to imagine the omission of the Ayew brothers, both of whom will be looking to cement themselves as true superstars on the continental stage.
Probables
Emmanuel Clottey, Richmond Boakye, Waris Majeed
Youngster Majeed is yet to find the net for the Black Stars in his handful of appearances, yet Appiah clearly sees something in the Tamale-born frontman who has been a regular in his squads. Whilst a lack of playing time at club level may count against the diminutive striker, his prolific time in Sweden with Hacken suggests he knows how to find the net.
                Emmanuel Clottey and Richmond Boakye both offer exciting and effective, but very different styles of attack – both could be terrific options for the Black Stars, either from starting positions or off the bench.
Possibles
Dominic Adiyiah
Once the darling of Ghanaian football, Adiyiah’s fall from grace has been hugely disappointing for national selectors. The former Milan man has struggled to make a convincing case for his inclusion after initially being invited back into the action by the new boss.
Unlikely
Quincy, Prince Tagoe, Ricky Mpong
An early favourite of Appiah’s, Mpong has failed to hold down a squad place with the Black Stars, and an Afcon call up looks beyond him.
Quincy and Prince Tagoe have never had the chance to prove their capabilities under Appiah, and despite having scored previously for the Black Stars, are unlikely to be called upon.

Ghanaian Trio among the Finest in Africa

10 Nov

Ghanaian Trio among the Finest in Africa


With the 34 nominees for the 2012 African Footballer of the Year named, Goal Ghana’s Ed Dove considers the credentials of the Ghanaian nominees, and presents his views on the field of selection as a whole. Three Black Stars have been honoured among the 34, and while André Ayew, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, and Kwadwo Asamoah are perhaps unlikely to win the award at the end of the year, these players can be rightly acknowledged for their efforts in 2012.  
For André Ayew, nomination may well be considered a silver lining on a black cloud in an important year of a nascent career. At a national level, things began badly, as the much fancied Black Stars fell to Emmanuel Mayuka’s late winner in the Afcon semi final in Bata. Despite bagging two goals in the tournament, ‘Dédé’ never quite managed to set the competition alight as he had threatened to. Throughout the event the Black Stars dominated possession, and teams, without showing the cutting edge to truly inspire fear in their opponents. Ayew was typical of this, linking impressively with younger brother Jordan, but only fleetingly making a monumental contribution – an example being the extra time winner against Tunisia in their Franceville quarter final.
On domestic duty, for his club side, Marseille, the year has been particularly trying. Slumping to an tenth place finish in Ligue 1, their worst for eleven years, OM were barracked from all quarters, and had to watch on torturously as rivals PSG splashed the cash – enough to potentially dominate the domestic circuit for the visible future. Troubles were compounded by a galling maiden league title for south coast rivals Montpellier – OM forced to look on longingly as La Paillade celebrated their triumph. Ayew retained his place in Marseille’s first eleven, but without progressing as many around him had forecast after his celebrated initial years at the club. Big games against MHSC and Bayern came and went without Abedi Pele’s golden boy showing what he is capable of, despite a respectable scoring return. A hat-trick against Lille in the 2011 Trophée des Champions now feels like an age away. In time to come, however, André Ayew will surely find himself among the chief contenders for this award.
For Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, the year has been one of steady progression and augmented recognition. A crucial component of the Ghana team that progressed to the Semis in the Afcon, Badu scored an important equaliser against Guinea, and managed to further cement himself in the Black Stars’ midfield. Domestically, Badu has risen in prominence at Udinese, his club side since November 2009. With Gökhan İnler departing for Napoli, the midfielder has been called on to replace the ex-captain in the centre of the park. The Berekum-born Black Star has performed admirably, enough so to somewhat soften the blow of Kwadwo Asamoah’s transfer to Juventus this summer.
After not featuring in Ghana’s uninspired 2-0 victory over Malawi in their initial qualifying bout ahead of Afcon 2013, an injury also looks like keeping Badu out of the return. Anthony Annan is set to remain marshalling the midfield in the near future, particularly after his impressive strike in the first leg, but if Kwesi Appiah’s men are to rove to glory in South Africa, they will surely need to call on the maturing talents of the diminutive Badu. Being named among the 34 nominees for the CAF award is testimony to the growing appreciation that exists for this young man’s talents.
The third nominee, Kwadwo Asamoah, is a dear friend of Badu’s, and similarities between the two men have not been lost on observers. Initially, their styles are akin; even if Asamoah allegedly possesses a higher technical proficiency. Both offer energy and dynamism in the middle of the park, as well as the ability to contribute both in defence and in attack, allowing their teams to switch fluidly between phases of play.
Their career trajectories have also followed similar pathways. Asamoah is an ideal illustration of Udinese’s guiding method, that of using their expansive network of scouts to pluck potential stars from the world’s more obscure leagues, trusting them domestically, blooding them in Serie A, before eventually selling them on to larger clubs for a handsome profit. Whilst Badu is still undergoing his tutelage in Udine, Asamoah has already arrived at the terminal stage of the conveyor belt, having been brought by Turin superclub Juventus this summer.
Asa has impressed in his early showings at Juve, even setting up a goal for full back Stephan Lichtsteiner in his first Serie A appearance for La Vecchia Signora. With the Juventus midfield packed with technicians such as Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, it may fall to Asamoah to add gusto and drive to the Bianconerimidfield, whilst simultaneously protecting those around him. Whatever his role evolves to become, Juve supporters can be confident that they have a star in the making on their books. The young midfielder is primed to step up to the dual challenges of Champions League competition and the defence of the Serie A title, whilst his fortnightly outings in front of over 40,000 will stand him in good stead to combat the rigours and pressures of playing for the national side. Asamoah may well become the brightest of Black Stars.
Ultimately, the award is likely to end up with one of the African heavyweights, perhaps more established than the aforementioned. Yaya Toure’s masterly performances guided Manchester City to their first Premier League title since 1968, whilst then-Chelsea duo Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel excelled as the Blues won their first European Cup, the former scoring the decisive penalty against Bayern Munich in the final, whilst the latter put on a wonderful midfield display against Barcelona in the semis. In the North East, Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cissé have set the Premier League alight with their attacking performances, Cissé in particular with two stunning strikes against Chelsea in May and a magnificent return from his first six months in England.
With the award winner to be named in the Banquet Hall, State House in Accra on the 20thof December, all Ghanaians will be urging the CAF officials to choose one of their stars for the prize. Whilst it’s unlikely, imagine the boost the nation would receive ahead of Afcon 2013 were one of their trio to be heralded as Africa’s finest. Ultimately, 2012 may not prove to be the year for the Black Stars, but a fine showing in South Africa, and we may well see some more of Ghana’s sons added to next season’s list of nominees.
Ed Dove
 @EddyDove.

Gyan in Danger of a Legacy Lost

14 Mar

I wasn’t the only one who listened on in bewilderment as Ghana took on Chile at the PPL Park in Philadelphia at the end of February.I feel for the poor commentator and I dread to imagine to the look on his face as his gentle producer approached him calmly afterwards to inform him that the young left sided Black Star was not, in fact, Asamoah Gyan, as the unfortunate fellow had insisted on calling him, but Kwadwo Asamoah, already approaching 50 caps, and a well established player in his own right.

The commentator had insisted on announcing ‘Gyan’ proudly and profoundly every time Asamoah touched the ball or found himself in space. You can just imagine the chap’s reaction to being told he had misidentified the player for the entire match: ‘Not Gyan? Not Asamoah Gyan? Then where was he?’

Yes, exactly! Where was Asamoah Gyan, where is he, and, more to the point, where exactly is he going?

Gyan is in danger; in danger of being one of those ‘what ifs?’ of the footballing tapestry, in danger of being remembered for being a quitter at the Stadium of Light, and for a career with the Ghana team peaking with three missed penalties, on three big nights. Gyan is in danger of destroying his legacy, and losing the chance to lead a truly exciting generation of Black Stars on towards future challenges.

I begin with the third of these aforementioned penalties; Bata, February 8th, an Afcon semi final against Zambia, a place in the Libreville final at stake.

Ghana were awarded a penalty in the first half. A penalty so early in the game, particularly early in a game only settled in the dying minutes, might not be the natural point to consider when analysing the game’s outcome. Inevitably, however, it has been, and Gyan’s miss – an indecisive shot struck not quite far enough from Kennedy Mweene – led directly to the striker calling time on his international career.

Following the miss, and the subsequent defeat, the Ghanaian people seemed to close in on the team. As has been the case in various African nations following tournament disappointments (see Nigeria 2010 among others) a spate of finger pointing, name calling and vowed retribution ensued. This year it was Ghana’s turn, and a litany of complaints followed the team’s exit; murmurs of black magic, an embattled Serbian coach unsure of his future, vitriolic public reaction, and then Gyan’s retirement.

I imagine the history behind the latest miss wasn’t lost on the majority of fans. Cast your minds back to South Africa, 2010, the dying embers of a quarter final, an African team, on African soil, the whiff of the semis thudding against the back of their nostrils, Uruguay on the ropes, Suarez in disgrace, and Gyan fluffed it…and fluffed it spectacularly, blazing the ball against the cross bar and up into the Sowetan sky.

I recall that miss as perhaps the stand out moment of the tournament, I enjoyed the match memorably on a balmy evening in Kensington, yet cursed irreverently at Gyan’s miss. At the time the narrative was of Gyan the courageous, Gyan the brave, Gyan who stepped up moments after to open scoring in the shootout. It certainly was brave, it certainly was bold, and Gyan deserves the sympathy, but I can’t help think, as he reflects on his career many years from now, he will recall that miss, the ball sailing off, head in hands, and the collective groan of a continent, as a devastating moment of loss. Marcel Desailly, bursting blood vessels in the ITV studio, would surely agree.

I believe that there is more to come from this Black Stars team. Whilst Mark Gleeson, among others, suggested they ‘ran out of steam’ during the Cup of Nations, I was impressed by their dominance in the earlier rounds of the tournament; particularly the dynamism of young Kwadwo Asamoah, the emergence of John Boye, and the defiance of Anthony Annan, playing on despite his mother’s death.

It appeared to be in the final third that Ghana were unable to convince. Blogs such as ZonalMarking.net identified that whilst this was a team suited to the counter attack, they lacked the creativity and attacking verve to truly devastate inferior opposition, and to capitalise on the possession they were inevitably afforded in the continental arena. The premature retirement of Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, one of the first to console and encourage Gyan after his World Cup miss, has compounded this lack of cutting edge. It is an issue that will not be helped by Gyan’s self-imposed international absence.

The third penalty miss I mentioned, and the first chronologically, came in the 2006 World Cup, and Ghana’s group defeat of the Czech Republic. Here, the miss was inconsequential, with Gyan being one of two scorers to secure an historic 2-0 victory in the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne. His goal in this game was also the fastest in the tournament, coming only 68 seconds into the contest.

I close with this memory because it was the tournament, and perhaps the match, which first brought this exciting, attacking player to the collective perception of the footballing fraternity. Despite having already enjoyed several years prior with Udinese, this was the summer when the name ‘Asamoah Gyan’ and his slightly incongruous number 3 shirt began to mean something to the casual fans from disparate football upbringings.

I, for one, was enchanted by the pleasure with which he approached the game, his tireless running, his inventive movement, and of course, his dancing celebration – one of the ‘feel good’ moments (excuse the cliché) of that World Cup. I was lucky enough to witness all of this first hand as I watched Sunderland/Tottenham at the Stadium of Light in February 2011.

Gyan’s time at Sunderland, like his international career to date, started brightly, filled with promise, only t0 dissipate into bad feeling and disappointment. The player is currently on loan at Al Ain in the UAE. The facts still aren’t completely clear regarding the move; a falling out with Steve Bruce perhaps, sadness at the departure of Darren Bent, an offer the club simply couldn’t refuse? It may never be cleared up. There were rumours of Martin O’Neill wanting to bring Gyan back to the North East, and whilst I would enjoy seeing his strong attacking vitality and opportunistic finishing once more in the Premier League, it is leading the line for Ghana where I really want to see Baby Jet back.

This is a young Ghana team, but an immensely talented collection of players, plying their trade in leagues across the world, and for a number of Europe’s top clubs. With the indefatigable Stephen Appiah seemingly fatigued for good, and with Michael Essien spending more time in the physio’s room that out of it in West London, the team craves a figurehead, a unifying totem to lead them through World Cup Qualification and onto future glory. I hope that Asamoah Gyan can be that man, and can reinvigorate a legacy in grave danger of being lost.


Ed Dove, London
Eddy_Dove@Hotmail.com
Twitter ~ @EddyDove

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