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Sports News Tue, 12 May 2020

Feature: Why Kevin Prince Boateng deserves a recall to the Black Stars

Playing the devil’s advocate, Kevin-Prince Boateng deserves a recall to Ghana’s Senior Men’s National Football Team aka The Black Stars. This topic has been in and out of the media circles since the German born Ghanaian international’s last appearance in 2014.

In the aftermath of Ghana’s historically strange mix of excellent moment on the pitch (the group phase matchup against Germany was definitely the best played at that year’s World Cup) and embarrassing moments off the pitch.

Aside potentially boycotting a World Cup game against Portugal to force the country to fly over $3 million directly to Brazil to settle outstanding payment, some Black Stars players had run ins with Coach Kwesi Appiah. Boateng was one of those players who had issues with Kwesi Appiah and in the aftermath of the competition called it quits with the team and his international career.

With his body failing him several times, perhaps the flamboyant playmaker’s decision was influenced by a desire to extend his club career more so than just blind rage against Ghana.

While Boateng’s talent and production has never been an issue, his temperament has been and to an extent prevented him from fully fulfilling his potential.

The call to recall Boateng to the Stars popped up on the radar again recently when the world was privy to the conversation he had with his younger half brother Jerome who plays internationally for Germany. Kevin-Prince stated his desire to have a final run with the Black Stars before his career comes to an end because he didn’t like the way his last outing panned out.

Had the older Boateng retired after the 2010 World Cup, there would have been scores of people around the country willing to sign a petition to get him back on board. However, those scores of people are likely to sign a petition for new Head Coach Charles Akonnor not to call him up these days but such folks should reconsider their stance because for starters, Ghana needs Kevin-Prince Boateng’s skill set.

His play flat out fell during his brief stint at Barcelona but in the Messi era, that is understandable since many top rated footballers enjoy real success playing alongside the Argentine super star. Seasons prior to his run in Barcelona and after, Boateng has been a consistent force on offense for Las Palmas, Frankfurt, Fiorentina, Sassuolo and Besiktas. His blend of defense splitting passes, timely runs, long range strikes and dribbling ability to beat his marker puts him in a position to contribute irrespective of the level of talent around him.

For the Black Stars, particularly in recent outings, creativity through the middle is an issue with the team relying heavily on outworking and outmuscling opponents just to get by (case in point the 2019 AFCON). In wins over Sao Tome and Principe and South Africa, the quality simply wasn’t top notch to really bother the Black Stars so our weakness wasn’t that much exposed. Bringing Boateng in solves that as it lessens the pressure on Thomas Partey to make things happen despite the role not being a true fit for his playing style.

Partey excels in between the lines as a creator, disruptor, passer and tone setter; he can play the role of the latter trio exclusively but not so much with the former. Kevin-Prince on the other hand, excels exclusively as a creator behind the Forward and has on occasions played the striker’s role and this should help improve the Black Stars ability to create chances.

At a time, the world is in dire need of something worth talking about aside the Corona Virus pandemic, getting headline news worthy subjects like Kevin-Prince attracts a lot of attention. High TV ratings for ESPN’s documentary about Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls titled “The Last Dance” is in part aided by lockdown restrictions that have forced people to stay at home and spend their time stuck behind screens. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have arguably the greatest basketball player ever fronting the documentary.

The timing for the Black Stars to recall Boateng couldn’t be better with the team’s popularity in international circles on the wane. Low popularity played a role in reduced benefits from the team’s latest deal with kit manufacturer Puma. Getting an eccentric character like Boateng a la Michael Jordan in his own right with his no holds barred approach on board, is sure to draw attention back to the team as people look to find how the reunion pans out. With ears turned toward the Stars, Ghana Football Association gets the perfect platform to further push its “Bring Back the Love” campaign harder than ever before.

Over the years, several high profile personalities have returned to the Black Stars after bad exits from the team. Sulley Muntari got his recall as did Kwesi Appiah who resigned as Head Coach after that dismal 2014 World Cup campaign. Asamoah Gyan’s brief retirement from international play is just over a year old and he got his recall in time to get selected to play in last year’s AFCON. As it turns out, the Black Stars is all about reunions and KP Boateng should be the next beneficiary of Ghana’s golden heart.
Source: ghanasportsonline.com
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