Tag: Asamoah Gyan


AFCON 2015: Ghana so near yet so far…

Blackstars lose in the cruellest fashion but there is genuine cause for optimism..

Another tournament comes and goes, another dose of heartbreak for the Black Stars. As our famous uncle would say, in the final of AFCON 2015 our pain was ‘delivered fresh, from nature god’. Social media following the AFCON final was a mess – people from certain countries (no names mentioned) decided to emerge from their shadowed dwellings after the final whistle to rub salt into wounds. Many Ghanaians played another round of ‘Let’s Find Who We Can Burn At The Stake This Time – AFCON Edition’. Others blamed Mahama. While others simply logged off and went to bed.

hi-res-4a3c983840d5ab3d32c03c57bbf1cdcf_crop_northDespite an encouraging number of people who could reason, many were lost in the horde of the confused, the hurt, and the impulsive.

Which is fair enough. The manner in which Ghana threw away a two-penalty advantage, was reminiscent of beginning to dream of history being made only to watch Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick in 2010 soar past the goalkeeper, past the crossbar, and past the roof of the stadium. Categorically gutting. Ghana weren’t just close; the craftsman may as well have started crafting our name into the cup. We weren’t just within touching distance – we all practically started planning what posts we would upload, what kente we would wear into work the next day, how amazing Ghana Independence this year would be.

But alas. It was not to be. Again.

So the impulsivity of the reaction, and the rawness of the pain is understandable. But as with many things, sometimes the morning after brings so much clarity to the events of the night before. And when it comes to reviewing Ghana, that is what is needed – clarity. And perspective.

It’s easy to be short-termist when it comes to football. Heroes rise and fall with unnerring speed – daily, weekly, monthly. The manner in which Ghana lost out in the final can cause many to fall into the trap of finding a new scapegoat, a new villain to verbally flog – all while losing sight of the bigger picture…
…which is the fact that Ghana arrived at Equatorial Guinea for AFCON 2015 still bruised from an underwhelming, disappointing and disjointed World Cup campaign, smeared with the tar which poured from allegations of corruption and reports of dissent and infighting amongst the ranks. Ghana entered this competition as the least-favoured to escape what had been anointed by most as the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’. Many poured scorn on Ghana’s chances following the draw of the group. Avram Grant himself dampened expectations going into the tournament, imploring everyone that this was a tournament about assessing the team, about development, about building towards a better future.

255F825900000578-2941812-Ghana_players_celebrate_in_front_of_coach_Avram_Grant_en_route_t-a-58_1423173831453We kicked off the first game expecting nothing…

And yet not only did we escape the Group of Death, we came out standing tall and proud in first place.
We battled past Guinea 3-0 in the quater-finals.
We eviscerated the hosts of the competition in front of a bipartisan (and as we eventually saw, bitter and disgraceful) crowd, without captain Gyan on the pitch.

We finished the tournament finalists.

We fell to the 11th spot-kick taken by Ivory Coast. For 120 minutes, and until Razak missed his penalty, we stood toe-to-toe with an Ivory Coast team who are renowned and revered as the most experienced and accomplished football team amongst the African nations, captained by Yaya Toure who is such an awesome tour-de-force of a footballer he has won African Player of the Year for the last 4 consecutive years.

Christian Atsu solidified his burgeoning reputation on the world scene by emerging from AFCON 2015 as the official Player of the Tournament. And who could fail to be moved by the visceral outpouring of passion and desire by Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, as he screamed fierce encouragement to his troops during the shoot-out before being overcome by the pain of defeat at the final whistle.

Sure, it doesn’t take away from the pain. It doesn’t do much to depreciate the idea that we are becoming the Bridesmaid of African football, so favoured, so pretty and alluring, and yet always falling short of finally becoming the Bride. We have had our fair share of misfortune and hurt in recent years, as anyone who bore witness to the Suarez 2010 quarter-final can attest to. This final was another dose of exquisitely-devastating heartbreak, as we failed once again to emerge victorious from the Russian Roulette that is the penalty shoot-out.

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But Ghana came out of this AFCON tournament proud. Even prouder and in better shape than the last time we were finalists in 2010. We’ve got our spark back. Throughout the tournament, and especially with regards to our conduct during the disgusting antics of Equatorial Guinea, Ghana redeemed itself in the eyes of the world. Our reputation has been mended. Defensively, we look sounder. In Razak, (penalty kick aside, and not falling foul to short-termism in only focusing on the kick) we have an assured goalkeeper who looks as good as any on the continent. Atsu’s star will continue to soar. Dede Ayew is an awesome captain-in-waiting, developing into a man who can emulate the exploits of his legendary father.

The team looks stronger. The team will get better. AFCON 2015 saw Avram Grant and the Black Stars push the reset button. Our time as the Bride will come soon enough. The future is bright.

Jermaine Bamfo (@DrJabz_27)

AFCON 2015 Qualifier: Ghana 3 – 2 Togo

Late Atsu goal gives Black Stars vital win over Togo

 

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Ghana recorded their first win after a poor showing at the 2014 World Cup to restore their hopes of qualifying from Group E for AFCON 2015 after heroics from Christian Atsu.

The winger, on loan at Everton from Premier League rivals Chelsea, hit home the winner five minutes from time to give Kwesi Appiah’s men victory in the Group E qualifying match in Lome.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda last Saturday, Ghana appeared set for further disappointment when Floyd Ayite put the hosts ahead after 12 minutes.

First-half goals from Asamoah Gyan and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu quickly turned things around for Ghana, only for Emmanuel Adebayor to seemingly rescue a point for Togo 13 minutes from time.

But the hosts were left heartbroken as Atsu settled the game in Ghana’s favour, boosting their hopes of qualifying for a competition they have won on four occasions.

Togo will have been keen to get back to winning ways after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Guinea in their opening match last Friday.

And Tchakala Tchanile’s men promptly made a superb start as Ayite capitalised on a defensive mistake from the visitors to find the net at the second time of asking after seeing his initial effort blocked by goalkeeper Stephen Adams.

Yet Togo’s lead lasted just 12 minutes, striker Gyan levelling matters with a towering header into the bottom corner, before midfielder Agyemang-Badu completed the turnaround in the 34th minute.

The Udinese man was left unmarked by the Togo defence and made no mistake as he nodded home Abdul Rahman’s low cross at the near post.

Ghana held out for much of the second half with little difficulty, however, Adebayor set the stage for a frantic finale when he netted with a towering header.

But it was Atsu who had the final say, the 22-year-old using his pace to break free from the defence, confidently slotting home to seal all three vital points for Ghana.

 Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

 

AFCON 2015 Qualifier: Ghana 1 -1 Uganda

Ayew Penalty Salvages Draw for Black Stars as fans stay away in Kumasi

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Ghana was forced to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with Uganda in its opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday. The Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi was noticeably empty as fans decided to stay away after a dismal World Cup riddled with off-the-field problems.

Kwesi Appiah’s men made an unconvincing start to their qualifying campaign in Kumasi. Without Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng  (suspended indefinitely because of disciplinary problems) the host toiled against their opponents, ranked 45 places below it in the world.

After Tony Mawejje had given Uganda the lead at the end of the first half, Ghana was grateful to receive a controversial penalty that Andre Ayew confidently dispatched to earn the hosts a point

Ghana made the brighter start, and captain Asamoah Gyan was twice denied by fine saves from Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango. Those stops proved crucial on the stroke of halftime as Mawejje gave the visitors the lead with a shot from the edge of the area that bounced awkwardly in front of Fatau Dauda and flew into the corner.

Ghana reacted strongly at the start of the second half and was level in the 50th minute. Abdul Majeed Waris was judged to have been felled inside the box and, after protests from the Uganda players fell on deaf ears, Ayew sent his spot kick straight down the middle.

Uganda almost retook the lead immediately, but Dauda tipped Brian Umony’s low effort onto the post. Although Ghana had much the better of the final half an hour, Appiah’s men were unable to force a winner and will now travel to Togo for their next Group E qualifier Wednesday, while Uganda will host Guinea

 

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

Meet the Ghana World Cup Squad 2014: Introducing Asamoah Gyan

Captain Fantastic!

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Asamoah Gyan is known the world over as the man who missed the crucial penalty against Uruguay in 2010 World Cup quarter final in South Africa. He is also allegedly the man who needs 5 chances to score a goal and he is the man who briefly “retired” from international football. However He is the captain, the talisman and Ghana’s chief goal threat. Say what you want about him but his record speaks for itself. He is the man whose goals fired Ghana to the quarter final in the first place. He is also Ghana’s all time leading goal scorer (last scoring against Germany at 2014 World Cup) and the first African to score in three consecutive World Cups. Yes three!

Gyan is a dynamic powerful striker who some may argue has not yet fully reached his potential..

Having signed for Udinese in 2003 from Ghanaian club Liberty Professionals located in Accra, Gyan spent two years on loan at Serie B club Modena to gain match experience. Following some excellent displays during the 2006 World Cup, he attracted interest from Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow. Gyan returned to Udinese at the start of 2006, but in February 2007, Udinese pulled out of a deal to sell him in the January transfer window. The striker was on the verge of signing a 3-year deal with Lokomotiv Moscow for US$10.5 million, which would have been the fourth largest transfer fee in Russian football.

In August 2007 Gyan signed an improved 5-year contract extension to stay at Udinese until 30 June 2012 as a reward for his fine form.He remained there for just over a year then in July 2008, Gyan was signed by French Ligue 1 Club Stade Rennais , Gyan played 48 times for Rennes, scoring 14 goals. By the end of his stay at Rennes, he became a well known goal scoring figure, scoring 13 league goals in the 2009–10 season. However, Gyan only played three games in Ligue 1 the following season, taking his total appearances to 53, before he departed for Sunderland

After the 2010 World Cup, Gyan signed for Premier League club Sunderland on a four-year deal for record £13 million.. He scored on his Sunderland debut against Wigan Athletic after coming on as a substitute for Danny Welbeck. He finished his first season in English football with 10 league goals. Gyan took the squad number 3 shirt for the 2011–12 season, the same squad number he wears for Ghana. However in September 2011  went on a season long loan at UAE club Al Ain . He later signed a permanent five-year contract with the club on 6 July 2012 worth over £6m per season. He was the top goalscorer in the UAE league in the 2013 season and helped his team retain the league title.

Gyan made his debut for Ghana at the tender age of just 17 scoring on his debut against Somalia in 2003. He was included in the 2006 World Cup Squad and scored the fastest goal of that tournament against the Czech Republic. Along with Sulley Muntari he is the only player to have been selected in all three World Cup squads. He has made 80 appearances for Ghana scoring 41 goals.

If Ghana are now to make it to the second round of the World Cup he will surely have a crucial role to play.

Asamoah Gyan, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!

LetsGoalGhana!

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Forgiven and Forgotten? Suarez and Ghana, four years on…

Ghana’s relationship with the man whose hand rocked the cradle of Ghanaian dreams and turned them into dust..

There are moments in life where everything seems to slow down, and your heart seems to stop. Your senses become extra-sensitive to the air, the temperature, the ambience of your surroundings – so sensitive that you can even sense that you are about to reach a crossroad in life, where one of two things could happen, both options having the ability to have a massive impact on your future.

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The 119th minute of the World Cup Quarter-Final between Ghana and Uruguay was such a moment. And if you’re a Black Star, you can fully identify with the phenomenon I just described. Ghana had been applying pressure for ages, as the clock ticked towards penalties. The last African team standing in the first ever World Cup in Africa. The world was willing us on. Just one more goal, would take us to the semi-finals – and with confidence rising, and the continent’s support, who knows where we could’ve gone from there? Ghana pressed, and pressed; huffed, and puffed, heeding the call to destiny. Ghana felt destiny was in their own hands.

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Alas, we didn’t know that it wasn’t our hands in which our destiny lay, but in the hand of one Luis Alberto Suarez

Watching Dominic Adiyah fling his head at the ball as it dropped in the penalty box, time slowed down. Despite the speed of the shot, your eyes were able to track the trajectory of the ball. It was headed straight for the goal.

Away from the goalkeeper.

It’s a goal.

It has to be a goal.

Oh my God, it’s actually going to happen!

It’s almost there…

…And then, just as sure as the ball is going into the net, you see two hands raised by someone other than the goalkeeper and the ball begins to travel away from the goal. Dejection. Disappointment. Frustration heightened even further by Asamoah Gyan’s attempts to lob the ball to God with his penalty. Frustration morphing into blind fury as shots of Suarez jumping with glee on the sidelines came into view. If I had a pound for every supermalt bottle/kebab/Malta Guinness bottle/expletive which was thrown when those images first appeared across the world…

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The vitriol aimed at Luis Suarez in the days and weeks following his treacherous act was incredible. Ghanaians across the world began to venerate him as a figure slightly less evil than, if not shoulder-to-shoulder with, Lucifer himself – an example of everything dark, twisted, dishonourable in this life we live. People even began to pray against ‘every Suarez in [my] life’! ’m convinced his irrational and nonsensical biting of an opponent a few months later was just a manifestation of all the curses Ghanaians had thrown his way!

So fast forward almost four years. Four years since our dreams were shattered just as they were almost tangible to touch, our place in history snatched by the Uruguayans hand. How is Suarez seen by Ghanaians today? Speaking to fellow football supporters, there remains an element of distrust and dislike towards a player who since his act has been brought to our front doorstep on a regular basis by plying his trade in the English Premier League, the most watched league in the world.

And yet, the harshness of ill-will towards him seems to have been numbed a great deal by his weekly displays of footballing skill and goal scoring prowess which baffle most observers consistently. This season especially, ever since his return from a ban for another bite (manifestation of his overdraft in Ghanaian curses I’d imagine) Suarez has concentrated on his football and cut out most of his dark arts. From a man whom many wanted thrown off our shores, he has now become a stand-in Liverpool captain, a front-runner for this seasons Player of the Year and Golden Boot and…whisper it…quite a well-behaved player.

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The resentment towards the man whose hand rocked the cradle of Ghanaian dreams has cooled, it has negated a great deal. Retrospect has allowed Ghanaians to understand that despite the treachery of his actions, Ghana still had their destiny in their own control but yet they decided not only to sky the resultant penalty (the politics of which could be another article in itself) but sky a few more in the actual penalty shoot-out! Time has began to heal, began to allow us to take responsibility for our own failure. And time has allowed Suarez to grow from the petulant and uncomfortably-deplorable brat he was to the fearsome and driven footballer he is today.

Time is a healer. The pain will always be there. And I still wouldn’t hang my hat on Suarez being able to make it clean through Kotoka International Airport safe if he ever passed through. But both he and Ghanaians have made great strides over the years. Who knows, if Ghana make it through our Group of Death, we could be set with a shot at sweet revenge against one of the best players in the world. If that bridge comes our way, it may be time to start praying against every Suarez in our life again

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Kwesi Appiah names Ghana World Cup Squad….

Jeffrey Schlupp the surprise inclusion in Provisional 26 man squad

 

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Leicester City’s Jeffrey Schlupp was the only real surprise inclusion in Kwesi Appiah’s provisional World Cup Squad of 26 players. The defender who joins Albert Adomah as the only UK based player in the squad has a real chance of making an appearance at his first world cup finals.

Michael Essien has been selected for his second World Cup after missing the 2010 tournament through injury, while Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari are the only two players to have been in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup Squads.

Former captain John Mensah was a notable absentee as well as former defensive partner Isaac Vorsah. Emmanuel Frimpong who after finding first team oppurtunities restricted at Arsenal moved to Championship side, Barnsley was also left out.

The Black Stars will begin training in Accra on 20 May before travelling to Amsterdam for a friendly against Netherlands on 30 May. Kwesi Appiah will then cut down his squad to a final 23 players before heading to the US for their final pre-World cup friendly w against South Korea in Miami. The team will then arrive in Brazil on 11 June, five days before their world cup opener against USA.

The full squad is as follows;

Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars).

Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Jerry Akaminko (Kisehirspor), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns).

Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan).

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux), David Accam (Helsingborg).

What are your thoughts on the squad; Is leaving out experienced campaigners such as Mensah and Isaac Vorsah going to prove costly ? and which 3 players should be omitted from final squad?

Ben JK Anim-Antwi @Kwesitheauthor)

Black Stars Launch New Kit…

Black Stars World Cup Strip revealed

 

With 99 days left until the start of the greatest sporting show on earth the Ghanaian national team have revealed the strip they will be wearing in Brazil. The jersey (modelled by Ghana captain, Asamoah Gyan) still designed by PUMA keeps the original white and  red kit for Home and away respectively. The home shirt features bold African inspired graphic print inserts on the neck and sleeves that represent the pride of Ghana and the national team nickname the Black Stars. The print is created in the national flag colours, with stars and a football field graphic.

 

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The away kit in it’s trademark red has a similar print on the sleeve as the home kit but there is also a subtle larger design print on the front of the shirt which can only be seen at close quarters. The new kits feature PUMA’s new football apparel innovation PWR ACTV, a first-to-market use of both athletic taping and compression within the apparel.

The ACTV tape is strategically placed within the garment to provide micro-massages on the skin, working with the human body to help maximise performance and provide players with a faster, more effective energy supply to the active muscles. This combined with the underarm mesh inserts for increased breathability and freedom of movement, is designed to help Ghana have a competitive advantage at this year’s World Cup.

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The kit will be worn for the first time when Ghana take on Montenegro in an international friendly in Podgorica this evening. I will be sure to grab a jersey when it comes out

Will you be grabbing yours? let me know what you think of the new designs..

Ben Jk Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Ghana make it through to Brazil 2014

 

Ghana through to next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil despite losing to Egypt

 

The Black Stars booked their place at a third successive finals thanks to a 6-1 victory in the first leg last month which helped them win 7-3 on aggregate.

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Amr Zaki bundled home after 25 minutes to give Egypt faint hope in Cairo and Gedo rifled in a second late on.

But Kevin-Prince Boateng struck on 89 minutes to give Ghana the last word.

Egypt, playing in Cairo for the first time in two years, restored some pride with victory on the night.

But it is another heart-breaking qualification near-miss, having not appeared at the World Cup since Italia ’90 despite winning an unmatched four African Nations Cup titles in the same period.

The home team went in front after 25 minutes when a free kick from Mohamed Aboutrika out on the right was not collected by goalkeeper Fatau Dauda and Zaki appeared to use his elbow to bundle the ball home.

Ghana showed little ambition to go forward in search of an equaliser, while Egypt found it tough to break down their stubborn defence.

The hosts went close when a shot from Gedo was cleared off the line by Jerry Akaminko, with Dauda again failing to deal with an aerial ball.

The game opened up in the final 10 minutes and Gedo was on target in the 86th minute when he collected a pass from Mohamed Salah and blasted low past Dauda.

Ghana then exploited some gaps at the back, with Asamoah Gyan finding space on the right before firing in a low cross that was turned in by Boateng.

Source: BBC Sport website

 

Ghana Black Stars in departure lounge for Brazil 2014…

Ghana hammer six past Egypt in Kumasi to all but guarantee their place at next years World Cup

 

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Two goals from Asamoah Gyan helped the black stars to a historic 6-1 victory over Egypt in Kumasi to have fans all but booking their tickets for Brazil. The drubbing was the first time Egypt had conceded six goals in a match in thirty to years. It was a game that Ghana needed to get a positive result to set them up for the second leg but even the most optimistic Ghanaian could not have predicted such a thrashing.

There had been tension during the build-up to the game because Ghana had written to Fifa asking for the 16 November second leg to be switched from the Egyptian capital Cairo because of safety fears. Thus Ghana wanted to get off to a good start and boy did they.Gyan had a clear chance to put the hosts ahead inside 20 seconds but he hit his shot straight at Egypt goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy from 12 yards out.

However Black Stars skipper had only a few minutes to dwell on his miss as Abdul Waris touched on Michael Essien’s pass and the former Sunderland striker turned with pace and struck a smart low shot into the far left bottom corner. A second goal looked inevitable and it came after Essien left two defenders on the floor during a mazy run and, just as the Chelsea man appeared to have tried too much, the ball ricocheted off Gomaa into the Egyptian skipper’s own net. At this point the Egyptians looked stunned and needed something and it did when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Mohammed Slaeh by  Rashid Sumaila.  The experienced Aboutrika took the penalty and sent Ghanaian keeper Fatawu Dauda the wrong way to make it 2-1. However Waris restored Ghana’s two-goal advantage on 44 minutes, heading in Muntari’s
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Eight minutes after the interval, things got even worse for Egypt when they failed to clear a corner and Muntari’s bicycle kick attempt bounced up nicely for Gyan to nod in Ghana’s fourth goal. Shortly after the speedy Waris burst through on goal and was upended in the penalty area by
keeper Ahmed Elshenawi, who had come on for the injured Ekramy. Sulley Muntari made no mistake from the resultant spot-kick. Egypt’s misery was complete when substitute Christian Atsu drove in a fizzing shot from the edge of the box to send the Kumasi crowd into more celebrations.

Make no mistake this was a momentous result against a good experienced side who were the only team on the continent to remain unbeaten in qualifying. The result will go some way in silencing coach Kwesi Appiah’s critics who believe he is not up to the job.

If or should I say when Ghana make it to Brazil they will be only the fourth African side to qualify for three consecutive World Cup finals.

In the Black Stars we trust

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Kevin Prince Boateng out of Egypt game

Is KPB’s absence really a blow to the Black Stars chances?

 

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As if concerns about the security of the Black Stars was not enough; In a further off field development it has been confirmed that  Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng will miss Tuesday’s World Cup play-off first leg against Egypt in Kumasi after suffering a knee injury. Boateng picked up the injury playing for German club Schalke during a Bundesliga match on Saturday. Tests in Germany have revealed that Boateng must undergo treatment on his left knee.

Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah has decided not to call up a replacement in his squad, which I think is the right call. Inevitably a lot may be made of this news and whether this makes the Black Stars all the more difficult against the Egyptians. However I think it is fair to say that it is business as usual.

Boateng is yet to play for Ghana since ending his international retirement after missing the  last qualifier against Zambia in Kumasi. Therefore Ghana are not missing anything they have not had for the past two and a half years. Albeit Boateng has been in good form for his new team Schalke after joining then from AC Milan last month Ghana have enough going forward to trouble the Egyptians. Indeed I would’ve have been more alarmed if it was Kwadwo Asamoah , Christian Atsu or Asamoah Gyan who have were the ones pulling out injured. All three have been regular contributors in the qualifying campaign and had Boateng been fit I don’t think he would have started anyway.

More of a concern for Ghana should be the injury to defender, John Boye who is a serious doubt for the game. Along with fellow defender Jonathan Mensah who has already been ruled out , the Black Stars are looking quite vulnerable at the back. Their absences could have a  big bearing on the game.

Of course an injury to a big name player like Kevin Prince Boateng is going to get the bigger headlines but I would make the case that Ghana’s defensive injuries are a bigger blow, lets hope not too much of a blow though.

In the Black Stars we trust!

 

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)