Sports Features of Wed, 25 Apr 20188
Struggling Gyan not done yet
When news broke last summer that Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan was making a move to Turkish side Kayserispor from his China base, some were skeptical, while others appeared excited at the prospect of the forward finally making a return to European football.
Playing in unfashionable Asia for about seven years, Gyan had gone under the radar in terms of club football, although his scoring ability remained more than decent. The video of Gyan’s welcome at the Erkilet International Airport upon his arrival in the city of Kayseri went viral; here, he – a player written off by many as old and spent – was carried and hailed like a war hero returning from battle.
Many deemed the move smart, as it afforded Gyan a more competitive environment to thrive in. His adventure in Asia, especially the final leg with Shanghai SIPG, seemed to have slowed him down a bit, and the former Sunderland man needed a more demanding league to get him back to his best. Turkey, after all, is still growing in reputation, with more big names making the move to that side of the world. Surely, Gyan was certainly going to make it big there, wasn’t he?
Well, he did get off to a blistering start by bagging a brace on his debut in a pre-season game against German side Hannover, but that early delight soon turned sour. Gyan struggled to establish himself in the first team due to injury – the very factor that had catalyzed his decline – and it took until late October 2017 before he registered his first competitive goal for his new employers in a Cup game against Yesil Bursa.
A few days later he notched his league first, coming off the bench to rescue a point versus Fenerbahce. In his next outing, however, Gyan’s old nemesis, injury, struck again and had him ruled out for a month. He returned to face Eyupspor but, at that stage in the season, the Anatolian Star had found a nice rhythm that head coach Marius Sumudica wouldn’t disrupt just to let Gyan in. With a mere seven appearances in the first half of the campaign (only three of them starts), the goodwill that flowed towards Gyan from the supporters who had embraced him so warmly begun to dry quickly.
Football fans are the same all over the world, as Gyan soon realized: they stick with you till they’ve had enough, and then you feel the full force of their wrath. Before long, Kayserispor’s took to social media to heavily criticize Gyan’s output on the pitch – two goals in his first five months – as not being good enough, far below what they’d anticipated.
Any lingering belief that the turn of the year would bring Gyan better fortunes has since disappeared, with the ‘Baby Jet’ netting only once thus far in 2018. For one proven wherever he has he has been, even on the biggest stages, this is hardly the Gyan football fans the world over have come to know and love. The silver lining, though, is that the man himself has lost little of his strongest asset: self-confidence.
“I know my abilities, and I know when I’m fully fit I can score goals for fun,” Gyan told Citi Sports in an interview last year after he had scored his 50th goal for the Black Stars, amid his current crisis at club level. “I just need to stay injury-free and I’ll be fine.”
Gyan, without doubt, is a top-class finisher – among other feats, his unrivaled goal haul for Ghana and record as the highest scoring African at the Fifa World Cup with more goals than Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo combined are testament to such a claim.
While 2017/18 certainly hasn’t been the season he expected, bold Gyan isn’t one to run away from a challenge, though aged a ripe, old 32. Don’t rule him out just yet, charley.
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