So Michael Essien has finally announced his return to international football after a one year absence (felt longer actually). He will be available for the Black stars next game; the African nations qualifier against Congo on 06 June 2011. Essien said; I am fully ready to return to the Black Stars for our next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo in June,” he also added ; “I really want to help my country to qualify for the next year’s Africa Cup of Nations so I am ready to join my colleagues to help the country to qualify.”
This will be welcome news to many Ghanaians but I have to say the Black Stars have not exactly missed him (we reached the African nations final and World Cup quarter final without him) and emerging players such as Kwado Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu have shone in central midfield in his absence.
Furthermore the reason for his hiatus was in order for him to regain his form and fitness following a series of injuries. However for me since he has returned from his most recent injury the midfielder nicknamed ‘the bison’ has looked anything but and in fact the name ‘the sheep’ might be more apt to sum up his recent performances.
Some of you may think I am being harsh; but such is the standard Michael Essien has set over the years seeing him play average games does not sit well with me. I’m used to see him dominate midfield, make crunching tackles and driving runs into the opposition half and to be honest I haven’t seen much of this since his return.
There is a suggestion that he may not be able to simply walk straight back in the team and regain his place (as Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari found in the world cup). As I mentioned before other players have done well in his absence and Ghana have developed an effective system of playing without a him, it will be interesting to see how the coach accommodates him.
However his return can only be good for Ghana such is his pedigree and hopefully pulling on the Black stars will help him rediscover his form and produce the type performances that earnt him the nickname “the bison”
Ben JK Anim-Antwi