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Sports Features Tue, 10 May 2011

The ABC Tactics of Michael Essien, does he need Ghana now?

*By: Dennis Narterh Adzigodi (Managing Editor, Soccer Factsfile Newspaper) * *soccerfactsfile@yahoo.com***

Greetings to all my cherished readers across the globe. Once again my column is called upon to pass judgment on Ghana’s ace midfielder Michael “the Bull” Essien’s decision to feature for the Black Stars again after over a year’s break.

Thank God our man has finally changed his mind to play for his motherland after Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world missed his absence at last year’s historic first World Cup hosted in Africa by South Africa. Akwaaba! Essien.

Just by the way, let’s move straight into action and digest the topic before my chamber and pass my expert verdict as my column demands.

Does Essien need Ghana now? Or does Ghana need Essien now? Let’s go now…

Before Michael Essen’s injury at Angola 2010 his commitment to national calls was superb. He had featured for all of the national teams and played a vital role in our first ever qualification to Germany 2006 World Cup: yes I can recall that great headed goal he scored against South Africa in Johannesburg, a goal that helped Ghana seal her 2006 World Cup qualification.

Oh wao! I also just remembered that spectacular header against Nigeria during the CAN 2008 quarter finals in Accra – Ghana. He has also on several occasions chosen Ghana ahead of club duty and perhaps we need all understand his recent self-imposed exile especially as he sustained the injury playing for the country.

So let me ask who really takes care of these players in times of injury? Is it club or country? Does the answer mean that the player or country should decide on his or her commitment to club or country? Is Essien the only player to have suffered this fate?

I can remember some Ghanaian players who have suffered career threatening injuries in the likes of Nii Odartey Lamptey, former Black Stars captain Abedi Ayew Pele who got injured during the 1996 Nations’ Cup quarter finals match against Zaire in South Africa but came back strongly to lead the team to his last CAN in 1998.

German based Otto Oddo who was persuaded to play for Ghana ahead of Germany also suffered similar fates when playing for Ghana. Not forgetting Ghana’s ace former “Capitano” Stephen “Tornado” Appiah who suffered a very serious and career threatening injury before CAN 2008 after a wrong diagnosis leading to a blood clot but came back strongly to play for Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The list continues on and on and on………. Oh does anyone remember our first 2006 World Cup qualifying game against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou when Sammy Osei Kuffour “Tugah” broke his arm but played the entire duration with a bandaged arm – a first class commitment shown by a player towards Mother Ghana.

So what has been the reactions and commitment from these players towards Ghana after those injuries? Or perhaps unlike Essien, they weren’t playing for Chelsea by then?

So you see it seems Michael Essien has overstayed in deciding to play for Ghana again after his injury.

Hmmmm! I understand his plight especially after coming from injury to compete with new signing Ramires in the Chelsea midfield role.

Another question is has Ghana missed Essien so much in the midfield during his one year break? For me I don’t think so because we performed so well at the World Cup, we lost to only Germany in SA 2010 and have not lost any competitive match since.

I think Anthony Annan, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Bernard Kumordji, Kevin Prince Boateng and Kojo Asamosh deserve great plaudits. They have been superb and fantastic all year long always keeping the Ghana midfield intact. They have really overshadowed Michael Essien, which is a fact.

So now that age is catching up with him and has already wasted one whole football year, how long is he coming to play for us? Should we allow the wonder kids to play the midfield role? For me - Yes.

I think Michael Essien has played ABC tactics with Ghana and has used that period to secure and fight for a regular playing time and position at Chelsea. Let’s see the ABC tricks:

1. One year full national team break to get more playing time at Chelsea which he has succeeded.

2. Chelsea have failed to win any trophy for 2010-2011 season so all their players are under pressure. Thank God Essen’s contract was extended – something I was happy about.

3. Pressure on Chelsea coach probably facing a sack – choice of players for next season matches cannot be predicted. Future for aged players at Chelsea to get regular playing time is becoming slim.

So is Essien playing a fast game on Ghanaians? Is his comeback justifiable? Will Ghanaians forgive and forget about that? What legacy and precedence has he set for the upcoming young stars?

I think it’s time we all advised our players on certain decisions they take and they must also know that without Ghana no one would have known about them so they must choose country first before club sometimes. As much as we need them they need us too.

My verdict is simple and short. Although his case is justifiable and he needs a break, he has just overstayed. Essien has played ABC tactics with us and has succeeded. But Chelsea have finished the season without a single trophy – which I said with a special respect and apology to all my Chelsea brothers across the Globe.

He should realise also that he has not won any trophy for his country Ghana from his days with the Black Starlets, Satellites and the senior national team itself. Man! Come chase those trophies because age is catching up with you.

Does Essien owe it to apologise to all Ghanaians? For me, may be - Yes.

Does he deserve to start from Black Stars bench nowadays? For this, can someone please help me with answers?

But as much as possible let’s all welcome his comeback and give him the necessary support and encouragement. He needs Ghana now and Ghana maybe needs him too. Let’s show him some love. Let’s put the past behind and focus ahead.

Mike Akwaaba! – Woe zo! – Mo yee! Long live Ghana Soccer; Long live Michael Essien “The Bull”!!!

Source: Dennis Narterh Adzigodi