Undoubtedly, Ghana has produced some of the great strikers that have graced the African continent. The mention of the likes of Osei Kofi, Wilberforce Kwadwo Mfum, Ben Acheampong and George Alhassan (to mention but the above four) brings reveries of an era when Ghanaian strikers reigned in the Africa Cup of Nations. Ghana indeed had dreaded strikers! Even the next generation of Anthony Yeboah and Abedi Pele will always be mentioned with some pride. At a tender age, I remember watching Sports Highlights on GTV and not failing to spot the name “T. Yeboah” in the scoring charts of the German Bundes Liga. These were the good old days.
Since those days, it has become extremely difficult for Ghana to get daredevil strikers. I am referring to strikers who will send shivers down the spines of defenders. Names like Matthew Amoah and Asamoah Gyan were seen competing for European glory at a point in time. But even then, they were not regarded as dreaded strikers on the continent. I am sure many will not agree with me but, honestly, if you ask anyone at any time who Africa’s great daredevil strikers are currently, names like Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o Fils will overshadow Asamoah Gyan and Matthew Amoah.
Ghana 0-1 Brazil
A friend once told me that during the Ghana @ 50 ceremonial match between Brazil and Ghana, a whisper into the ears of the Special Guest, Kofi Annan was the question “Why are your men failing to score after playing all the beautiful football?” Indeed, we have constantly seen a Black Stars team with fluidity and flair as regards midfield but a substandard finishing (attack). I remember after Ghana played Namibia in the second Group B game at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, every football fan in the country bemoaned the lack of strikers. Ghana won that match 1-0 courtesy a scrappy goal by Junior Agogo. The excitement of fans went to the extent of organizing special reality shows for would-be strikers. But all seemed to have yielded little results.
Drogba or Eto’o
Admittedly, the Black Stars and even the junior teams [not forgetting the female teams] would do better than they are doing currently if they had daredevil strikers. The Black Stars, for example, would have romped to convincing victories if they were endowed with a striker like Didier Drogba or Samuel Eto’o. Drogba or Eto’o may not be fancied by many but with the kind of midfielders Ghana boasts of, the likes of these two players in the Black Stars team would make the team the most dreaded on the continent.
Anthony Yeboah’s long-standing record
This concern of lack of daredevil strikers for Ghana just came to the fore last weekend when Freiburg’s Senegalese striker, Papiss Demba Cisse broke Anthony Yeboah’s long-standing record in the German Bundes Liga. Anthony Yeboah’s 20 goals scored in the German Bundes Liga in the 1993/94 season while playing for Eintracht Franfurt was just surpassed by Demba Cisse. The goals made Yeboah the most prolific African striker in the Bundes Liga season. Cisse broke the record after scoring two past Hamburg SV. He has already scored two more than Yeboah and is even gunning to break another record of the Ghanaian as he trails Mario Gomez by two goals in the top scorers’ chart. Yeboah became joint-top scorer in the Bundes Liga on two occasions. The symbolism behind this is that Ghana is yet to have a daredevil striker after Anthony Yeboah. In the modern world of total football, a team can boast of good defenders and midfielders but good attackers will make the difference. I am happy Asamoah Gyan, in an interview one time prior to the 2010 Africa Footballer of the Year Awards, conceded that he learns from Didier Drogba and the Ivorian striker saved his career in 2008. My hope is that he and other Ghanaian strikers will learn their trade well so Ghana can revert to the days of Rev. Osei Kofi and Wilberforce Mfum. Until then, our records will continue to be smashed.