For all that has been said about the Ghana national team’s dire need of an elite finisher — a Sebastien Haller, Victor Osimhen, Ayoub El Kaabi, or even Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting — there is a truth, harsh and bitter, that must be admitted.
Ghana has never really had a surfeit of top strikers, and those old enough to have lived through the last three decades of the team’s history would likely remember only two great goalscorers who delivered consistently for the Black Stars: Anthony Yeboah and Asamoah Gyan.
Strikers of that calibre don’t come around very often on these shores, leaving Ghana quite reliant on the goal-scoring contributions of a breed that the country does produce in relative abundance: midfielders, of all shades.
For all the memorable goals Yeboah and Gyan have adorned the annals of Ghanaian football with, other unforgettable classics have come from players who usually operate a little farther from goal.
The likes of Abedi Ayew, Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, Sulley Muntari and Andre Ayew have all chipped in at crucial moments — and there have been a great many of those, haven’t they? — when goals haven’t been forthcoming from the guys whose job it primarily is to fetch them.
That formula has certainly worked a treat in the past and, at a time when Ghana isn’t getting any goals from its strikers, it is currently proving helpful. The last striker to score for the Black Stars, last March, was Jordan Ayew, when wrapping up AFCON 2021 qualification against Sao Tome and Principe.
Jordan has since gone on a barren run for club and country (in competitive games), and with no other striker stepping up in his stead to bang in the goals, the midfielders have had to carry more than their fair share of the scoring burden.
Mubarak Wakaso snuck one in when Ghana hosted Ethiopia last month in its opening Qatar 2022 qualifier. Nobody could come through in the second game, away to South Africa days later, but there were three — Mohammed Kudus, Thomas Partey, and Andre (the older Ayew) — that delivered the goals when Zimbabwe came to town last Saturday.
In the reverse against the southern Africans on Tuesday, Milovan Rajevac’s Black Stars weren’t as prolific, but the lone goal they got — Partey, again, this time from a sumptuous freekick — was enough to win the game and get the country’s World Cup qualification quest back on track.
And it looks like, until Jordan and Co. find their scoring boots, that’s the way Ghana would have to go; ‘default settings’, yes, but just fine for now.
Yaw Frimpong — Ink & Kicks