With South Africa 2010 round the corner, Angola 2010 not too far out, and the September African WC qualification games even more imminent, some players who missed out on the earlier Ghana Black Stars qualification matches due to injuries are knocking on the team doors again. Le Championnat outfit Stade Rennais striker Asamoah Gyan is one of these come-back kids.
The Asamoah Gyan issue is an interesting one. When fit, Gyan can torment defenders to commit forced errors and turn-overs. In the air, Gyan is head and shoulders above many strikers, and has scored many with forehead and temples.
But Gyan would have been a formidable striker if his feet had a fraction of that aerial composure.
Gyan cannot strike a ball cleanly, even if it came with a reward of a life-long contract at the Nou Camp, or a divine promise to quadruple Ghana’s paltry gross domestic product overnight. On terra firma, Asamoah Gyan is endowed with the grace of a 450-pound sumo wrestler attempting a two-handed Biellmann spiral figure skating move, and he lacks the cucumber-cool composure to slot a ball home. I remember jumping onto my mate Komli’s back in joyful celebration when Gyan beat Peter Cech in that memorable win over the Czech Republic in the World Cup in Germany three years ago, but some part of me felt Gyan’s left-footed strike was a fortuitous one (which, by the way, was the fastest goal in that tournament). Maybe I was vindicated when I saw him miss chance after chance in that game. He finally crowned a frustrating debut performance in Germany 2006 with a sending off against Brazil in the second round.
I doubt that Gyan will ever become the great striker that all Ghanaians would want him to be. He lacks that assassin instinct to deliver that coup-de-grace, an instinct that a natural striker would freely exude even at a young age. Tough to say, but if at his current age (23 years, they say), and with his long experience both at club and international level he’s not mastered the basic finishing technique, Gyan needs to rethink his position on the field.
To his credit, Gyan has a good eye for an assist. I don’t remember the last time I saw Gyan spray passes freely around the field (a not-so-surprising observation given that he is always played as a striker) but I remember he has produced some goal-producing crosses. Playing Gyan as an out-and-out striker would always produced mixed results: he will score a few but will miss more than a few, and this would inevitably cause the fans to jump on his back like they did in Ghana 2008, eventually affecting the player’s confidence as we’ve always seen.
I say, play Gyan as a wing striker in an attacking 4-3-3 (4-5-1 in defensive mode) formation; less pressure on Gyan, more services for the main striker (whoever he may be).