Sports Features of 2014-06-10

Black stars to shine only if ....

THE "MIRAGE" WILL TURN TO REAL WATER As the clock slowly but surely ticks down towards the commencement of the Fifa world cup 2014 in Brazil, most Ghanaians, as expected, are very optimistic about the chances of the national team the black stars and so do i. This optimism i believe is not just because we are Ghanaians but i think because, realistically, we have a very good team of brilliant individual players, both youth and experience. But before Ghana can make a meaningful impact in Brazil, then a certain mirage in the team must cease to be just a mirage but real water. The obvious questions that will quickly come on my readers' mind will be, what is a mirage? who is this mirage and what has it got to do with football and the Black Stars for matter? Here are two definitions of mirage from the oxford dictionary; 1. an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air. 2. an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved. In the first definition, one sees water ahead but when getting close, it becomes an illusion. If you ask travelers who ever encounter mirage on either the desert or a long hot road they will tell you how deadly it is. They keep chasing after it thinking is water to quench their thirst till they get exhausted, collapsed and die. With the above definition and the brief explanation lets now put it into perspective. In most great teams, if not all, there must be a play-maker who make things happen for the team.These play-makers are most often blessed with unique talent and skills , they possess the ability to win games single-handedly, especially the crucial ones, with their unique talent and skills. These could come in the form of great goals, set pieces, insightful passes that defines games etc etc. If these play-makers are on top of their game, their team's weaknesses are hardly felt. play-makers are quick thinkers, decisive and are allowed some kind of freedom on the pitch.Their quick thinking and decisiveness are key even on days that they cannot find their game. They are not necessarily the main star players of their teams but they are key to the team's success. My space will not allow me to mention many here but a few. Maradona, Garincha Ronaldinho Iniesta, Xavi Zidani are some of the accomplished playmakers who at one point or the other made it happen for their various teams, so, who is currently Ghana's Playmaker and why has become like mirage? In the semi final game between Ghana and Cameroon at CAN 2008 in Ghana, then coach of Ghana, Claude Leroy threw a certain young man, Kwadjo Asamoah, into the fray in the dying embers of the game when Ghana was a goal down, in a desperate attempt to salvage something out of it. Though he couldn't change the destiny of the game as his coach wanted but at least he showed tremendous qualities which gave the country hope of a great player to succeed the incredible Stephen Appiah who was by then plagued with injuries. He did not rest there, in the qualifying games to Angola 2010, he contributed immensely scoring a stunner against Mali away in Bamako. At the tournament proper, he didn't disappoint at all. An inexperienced Ghana side, without stars like Essien, Muntari, john Painstil and Stephen Appiah, reached the final scoring four goals in the process with Kwadwo Asamoah accounting for two important assists including a well tailored pass from his own half to Asamoah Gyan which decided the dicey quarter final game against the host nation Angola and another one from a corner kick which Gyan connected to account for Nigeria in the semi final. after the tournament which Ghana finished second to Egypt , every Ghanaian became more hopeful for the fact that gradually a worthy successor for the legend Stephen Appiah who was then struggling with various degrees of injuries . He was named the young African player afterwards. Then came south Africa 2010 world cup tournament later in the same year, and just when everyone thought he was going to hit the roof he displayed such mediocre performance and become like mirage judging by his own huge potential and standards. Instead, it was a certain young Andre Dede Ayew who went to the party, stood very tall and was duly counted. Now, in between the last world cup tournament in 2010 and Brazil 2014, there had been two African Cup of Nation tournaments and what were his contributions and did he live up the huge expectations? Apart from a goal he scored against Congo DR at the last edition of the African Cup of Nation and two others he got in the World Cup qualifiers, his general output as far as the national team is concerned is nothing to write home about judging by what he does week and week out for his club side Juventus. Now another mundial is here with us, and we are in one of the toughest groups of the competition and who will be our playmaker on whose shoulders the team is going to lean, making the big decisions? Now, can anyone tell me who fits into this play-maker role more than Kwadwo Asamoah? he is the most consistent Ghanaian player in Europe, he is playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world, he played both in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League. He also has the opportunity to understudy one of the greatest play-makers the game has ever seen in the person of Andre Pirlo and other good young ones like Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, and he also had an injury free campaign during the just ended season. And with the advantage of having one world cup experience already, what excuse has he got not to go out there and do the job? It is often difficult to really diagnose his problem, but i guess it has to do with his self confidence. Yes, his self confidence is suspect and that was why he easily relinquished the the great number 10 shirt reserved for most of the great play-makers to the younger Dede Ayew after a little pressure from the latter. OK , if self confidence is his problem then the psychologist for the team must work seriously on him, that is if our psychologists do any good work at all, so we could get the best out of him for the greater benefit of the team. So far we have had a couple of preparatory games already and he has still not given us something to be hopeful about, may be is too early. But whatever it is, Kwadwo Asamoah has no choice than to go to this Brazilian carnival and stand up tall to be counted, or is he going to be the the oxford dictionary's second meaning of mirage, an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved? we shall be watching. source:LEWIS NENYEWODE NUMEKEVOR(mylewisonline@yahoo.com)