When Ghana came out of that nervous encounter with Botswana in their Group D opener, many things were said. My fancy got tickled by a statement attributed to Botswana national team defender Mompati Thuma.
The defender who was on assignment to chase Ghana’s lead striker, Asamoah Gyan, out of the penalty box did not have any respect for Ghana’s hottest Black Star. “Gyan’s an ordinary player like everyone else, it is just that he plays in Europe,” he told media men after the game.
The arrogance of a sore loser? Whatever you make of it, that is an ego-deflating statement to make, given the premadonna status Gyan has attained in recent years. If this statement was made in 2008 when Gyan had altercations with the general public because his performance fell below expectation, there will be no qualms.
But today, opinions will be sharply divided. Even those who so much dislike Gyan will ask Thuma how dare he try to poke a pin into this bubble we have collectively blown into Gyan’s ego over the last 4 or so years.
Through a careful blend of good teamwork, football skills, important goals, bigger club transfers, music and dancing, Gyan has warmed his way back into many of disappointed fans from that difficult 2008 Nations Cup period.
But Thuma’s famous statement makes one begin to ask if Gyan could do more for Ghana. There are many ways by which we can assess the striker, but let us focus on his core duty – scoring goals. Let us also limit our discussion to tournaments as the statement was made in this context.
If we take out the 2004 Summer Olympic games, Gyan has featured in 4 competitive senior tournaments for Ghana – World Cup 2006, CAN 2008, CAN 2010, World Cup 2010. In all 4 tournaments, he was either a lead striker or a second striker. More recently, he has been a lone striker.
The much-discussed striker has scored 8 goals in all these tournaments; averaging 2 goals per tournament compared to the 5 goals average of the goal kings of these four tournaments. This comes to only 28% of all 18 goals Ghana has scored in tournaments Gyan has featured in.
There are those who will claim that scoring from penalty kicks does not make a striker special. Of the 8 goals Gyan has scored, 4 were converted from the penalty spot.
If we discount the number of assists, influence and skill set which he often brings aboard the Black Stars ship, the evidence does not speak so highly of Gyan, does it? You cannot average 2 goals per tournament and expect to be respected by defenders.
But we can take the analyses even further. The trend suggests that Gyan is maturing into the deadly tournament striker we expect him to be. He scored 1 goal at World Cup 2006; 1 at CAN 2008; 3 at CAN 2010 and 3 at World Cup 2010.
Barring injuries, 5 or more goals at CAN 2012 will be enough to make Thuma and all others like him eat their bitter arrogant words. But can Gyan deliver?
Gyan may not need to prove how good he is to anyone, especially some unknown Botswana man. He has himself claimed he does not need to score. But this Gyan hate needs some gargantuan response; not in with words, but goals. This is why it is time for Gyan to outshine himself at CAN 2012.
Yes he Gyan!