And so Ghana’s search for a player capable of leading the Black Stars’ attack, a seemingly endless merry-go-round, continues.
The latest to try out for the role, Richmond Boakye-Yiadom, failed to convince in the hour or so his audition lasted during the disappointing draw with Ethiopia in Thursday’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier; unsurprising, given he’s only scored a grand total of four goals since the start of last season.
That head coach Milovan Rajevac, with Ghana desperate for a goal in the final ten minutes, could only throw on Caleb Ekuban — whose most recent strike in a Ghana shirt (the third of three) came over a year ago, and who is yet to score this season for his club, Genoa — amplified just how limited resources available to the Serbian are.
It is a real headache for Rajevac, who’s surely missing those years in his first spell at the helm of the Black Stars when he could rely on a certain Asamoah Gyan, almost always fit and in his prime. But maybe Rajevac is looking in the wrong places — perhaps a bit too far and wide.
The answer he seeks might just be right home, in the Ghana Premier League, where Accra Hearts of Oak’s Kofi Kordzi emerges as a potential option. Kordzi may not have the profile of either Boakye-Yiadom or Ekuban — both of whom have played out the bulk of their careers in Europe — but he promises to tick boxes neither has quite fit thus far.
His style is centered around excellent hold-up play that makes the most of an imposing frame, while bringing teammates into play and biding his time with the ball. Then there are those inspired moments in pressurised situations that are often used as a measure of top players, a couple of which Kordzi has come up with since first joining Hearts as a largely unknown quantity in January 2019.
A recent example came against Guinean side CI Kamsar in a CAF Champions League game, on the occasion of Kordzi’s second Hearts debut. The tie was firmly deadlocked by the time Kordzi was brought on by Hearts head coach Samuel Boadu, but he was about to swing it Hearts’ way in sublime style.
Showing remarkable confidence, Kordzi took charge of a freekick — just one of his strengths, actually — and fired Hearts into a lead that Phobians later doubled and consolidated. And that exhibition of finesse brings us to the next point: Kordzi, although an archetypal target-man, brings more than just brawn to the table.
He possesses incredible poise, grace and elegance when gliding across the turf with the ball at his feet, the sort of nimble and dainty footwork typically associated with less burly players, not a strapping forward who stands at over six feet and appears built to compete — at least on a purely physical level — with any centre-back in the game.
And while he doesn’t always get the net bulging when presented with the opportunity to do so, Kordzi can be lethal. Don’t get me wrong; he isn’t at all the finished product, and a more natural successor to the aforementioned Gyan could come along in the not-too-distant future, but Kordzi is as good as — if not better than — anyone Rajevac has tried thus far.
Trim his rough edges and, with some good mentoring, Kordzi could definitely do a job.