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 #3…
Having dispatched the fancied Czech Republic with great goals from Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari, Ghana turned their attention to another formidable opponent, the United States of America (USA) – the start of a World Cup trilogy between two countries that, otherwise, would have had precious little reason to consider each other rivals.
An accumulation of yellow cards meant neither Gyan nor Muntari would feature in this final Group E game, from which the Black Stars needed a favourable result to stand a chance of realising their objective of making it past the first round on their maiden attempt.
Taking Gyan’s place in the starting lineup was Razak Pimpong (more on him in the next episode of this series), while Haminu Draman replaced Muntari. Ghanaians had watched Pimpong, Gyan and Muntari grow, excited witnesses to their exploits as teenagers, but Draman was a relatively unknown quantity.
Sure, we’d seen him for a while in the Ghana Premier League with Hearts of Lions in the early noughties, but it wasn’t long before he was off into the backwaters of European football, a move to Serbian side Red Star Belgrade sending him out of sight and – as it so often happens – out of mind.
He hadn’t yet had a taste of World Cup football, two games into the 2006 edition, and some may have reasonably wondered if Draman had what it took to step up in Muntari’s place.
Those who sought a like-for-like replacement for all-action, intensely physical Muntari would have been disappointed, but Draman brought his own set of qualities to the table – speed the standout trait.
That remarkable fleetness of foot, coupled with a desire to make an instant impact and impeccable precision in striking a football, got him on the scoresheet after just 22 minutes.
The game, up until that point, had been deadlocked, a consequence of both teams being largely content with sizing each other up and avoiding needless mistakes that could be exploited.
But that was only until Claudio Reyna, the USA captain, lingered a bit too long on the ball after receiving it in his area. Draman quickly pounced and, before Reyna knew it, he’d been robbed of possession, left in a heap as the Ghanaian winger raced clean through on goal.
A composed finish from Draman would have still another American, Kasey Keller, kiss the grass in a matter of seconds.
The veteran goalkeeper had opted to stare the onrushing forward down rather than stray too far from his comfort zone, but it was Draman’s whose coolness prevailed in that battle of wits.
Setting himself up with the outside of his boot, Draman sent a curler beyond Keller with the inside, having taken all the time in the world to pick his spot.
It was a masterful execution, and a moment to savour for a guy who might only have expected to play, at best, a bit-part role at the Mundial.
Yet here he was, against all odds, living the dream — the American Dream, if you like.
For Draman – now retired, like most of his colleagues in that great Ghana team – this was, indeed, the stuff of dreams, the sort of thing you make sure your grandkids never hear the end of. Had it ended up being the match-winner, in fact, the tale to be told of this goal would have been better still.
But it wasn’t, ultimately, with another on the pitch that day for Ghana – a more prominent player, for that matter – delivering the coup de grâce.
Enn Y. Frimpong – Ink & Kicks