At Qatar 2022, Ghana will appear at a fourth Fifa World Cup, hoping for more good memories on a stage where they’ve had lots of fun in the past. Ahead of their November 24 kick-off against Portugal at the futuristic Stadium 974 in Doha, Ink & Kicks reviews the 13 goals already in the Black Stars’ World Cup account.
Today, we’re on Goal #8…
Asamoah Gyan has starred in many tense situations during a storied international career, some of them exhilarating and others excruciating. Through it all, though, he has remained determined, composed, and the man to back in those big moments.
Gyan certainly lived up to that label, reprising the ‘clutch player’ role once more, when Ghana needed a winner against the United States of America (USA) in their Round of 16 clash in Rustenburg, South Africa 2010.
Kevin-Prince Boateng had got the evening off to a flyer with a fine run-and-finish, before the Americans equalised through a Landon Donovan spot-kick. A tough, gruelling battle then spilled over into extra-time, and both sides needed a saviour – someone to step up and make the difference.
It was for Ghana that saviour, Gyan, stepped up, only three minutes after Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai restarted the game after the opening 90-odd minutes had ran out.
You know, for all the talk about he and current Ghana captain Andre Ayew – only a youngster at the time, albeit one with quite a reputation – not being buddies, Gyan struck a really productive relationship with the former West Ham United man on the pitch, and this goal was one of the earliest illustrations of that chemistry.
At first glance, the long ball Ayew lofted from deep into Gyan’s path looked no more purposeful than a simple clearance – a hopeful punt, at best.
Recent comments by Gyan, however, suggest that delivery was probably far more intentional than it might have seemed.
“When you’re going into a game, call the midfielders and tell them how you want the ball to be placed for you,” Gyan, in a recent appearance on Ghanaian television, advised his fellow strikers.
“At least one or two of such chances might work.”
Most likely, then, it was anything but a stroke of good fortune that Ayew’s ball fell so well for Gyan. Even so, the ‘Baby Jet’ – as Gyan, pacy in his prime, is nicknamed – had to put in some real effort to get to it. He only had as much a chance of doing so, initially, as the two American defenders hastening to hem him in, with goalkeeper Tim Howard advancing, too.
And yet, it didn’t matter at all that Gyan was outnumbered in that foot-race. It didn’t even matter that he had a slight disadvantage in trying to beat the onrushing trio — or that, at just the moment he controlled the ball on his chest, USA captain Carlos Bocanegra shoved him into a position from which he could only strike with his weaker (left) foot.
Gyan outran and outwitted his markers, before rifling past Howard a finish that would make Ghana only the third African side to ever reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup – unarguably the most consequential of Gyan’s 51 international goals.
A small detail you might miss watching the video of that passage of play: as Gyan prepared to pull the trigger, Ayew could be seen raising a bandaged hand in what almost looked like the celebration of a goal that was still some seconds away from being scored.