They say every superhero needs a sidekick, and that’s just what Georges Mfegue has been to his fellow Asante Kotoko star, Franck Etouga.
Seeing how well the two Cameroonian forwards have adapted to playing in the Ghana Premier League, thriving in a culture so markedly different from theirs, it’s hard to believe only seven months have passed since they moved from their homeland to join Ghana’s record champions.
Imports don’t always flourish on these shores, and while there have been some genuine success stories over the years, one could just as easily – more easily, perhaps – come up with examples of failures.
Some have had their wings clipped by the sheer weight of expectation even before take-off, while others are simply unable to rise beyond the initial altitude encountered after making a flying start.
Etouga and Mfegue, though, haven’t had any of those problems, soaring higher and higher. The latter got off the mark first, scoring Kotoko’s goals in a 3-2 loss to King Faisal last December, but he’d soon be overtaken by Etouga as the team’s chief source of goals.
Etouga, currently with 19 strikes to his name, has racked up the numbers quickly, at a rate so impressive that he’s regarded as favourite to bag the league’s topscoring prize; the 20-year-old’s exploits, not unnoticed back home, has been rewarded with a call-up to Cameroon’s senior national team.
It’s not been all about him, though, has it?
To frame Etouga’s goalscoring feat in its proper perspective, Mfegue cannot be taken out of the picture. If Etouga has been integral to Kotoko’s title-chasing ambitions this season – and, oh, he has! – Mfegue has been just as essential to the former’s form.
So well do they dovetail upfront – Mfegue pulling the strings and opening up the spaces for Etouga to do the damage – that opposing defenders find it a herculean, thankless task to neutralise the potency of their double act.
The latest illustration – and maybe the finest yet – of that telepathy, of how sound their on-pitch understanding is, was on full showcase in Kotoko’s last league game.
Etouga – who else? – scored for the leaders in a disappointing 1-1 stalemate with Aduana. The goal itself, fired in with force and finesse from just outside the box, was a thing of beauty, but if the finish looked easy, it was only because Mfegue set him up so expertly.
Collecting a pass from midfield, Mfegue slipped a reverse, eye-of-the-needle pass through to Etouga who, almost instinctively, was already sprinting into position to avail himself of the service his compatriot looked set to deliver.
In celebrating, Etouga didn’t forget to credit his supplier. Running towards the cheering fans via the corner flag – a quite familiar sight these days – Etouga stopped in his tracks, in an instant, before moving in the direction from which Mfegue was coming.
High they jumped, thumping their chests together mid-air, in the manner that they saw their countrymen, Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko-Ekambi, do after scoring at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. It’s hard, really, to imagine one without the other.
Between them, they’ve scored over 62% of Kotoko’s 32 league goals, and any fan of the Porcupine Warriors would shudder to think just how their team would fare without them.
Neither is remotely close to being dispensable, and it would be utterly inconceivable that head coach Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum would entertain the thought of dropping either of these pillars on whom Kotoko’s offensive unit rests; when fit, there is no choosing between them.
Etouga may have raced far ahead in the scoring stakes, but there is an argument to be made that Mfegue is actually the more complete forward, a claim backed by a tally of six assists and as many goals.
He may not be hogging the headlines after games, and he’d have to wait for his own Cameroon invitation, but Mfegue deserves as much acclaim as Etouga gets.
Sidekick, I said? Scratch that.
Mfegue, on the evidence of the performances he keeps churning out, is worth so much more.