THE OLDER, THE BETTER…give Kingson a break!!

I have monitored with keen interest the public rancor over the performances of Ghana’s number one goalkeeper – Richard ‘Olele’ Kingson also known in Turkey as Farouk Gursoy. Inasmuch as I identify with some of their concerns, I believe Kingson should be spared these moments as he is growing better as characteristic of great goalkeepers. Take it or leave it, Richard Kingson is one of the safest pair of hands on the African continent. When a random mention is to be made on Africa’s top five great goalkeepers, one will never overlook Richard Kingson of Ghana. Among the five times Richard Kingson has represented the Black Stars in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations, he has been named in the Team of the Tournament on two occasions. Both occasions of nomination were in his latter years of participation. In Ghana 2008 and Angola 2010, Ghana’s number one was named second best to Essam El-Hadary of Egypt.

Ghana's number one goalie in jersey no. 22

Kingson in lemon green during team mate Essien's Charity match

Ghana-Uruguay quarter final match

Notwithstanding, to get the best of a person, and in this case a player, one has to come out clear to correct him when he falls short of expectations. Indeed, the goal Ghana conceded in the Congo clash is solely Richard Kingson’s fault. I was rather unsettled in my boots to see Kingson in a near exchange of words with centre back Isaac Vorsah after that goal. Was he blaming the tall defender for that? I hope not! I was engaged in a conversation with a former player of the Black Stars, Rev Osei Kofi about this goal and he seemed to share the same view with me. Indeed, we both thought Richard Kingson could have chested or even headed the ball forwards, probably to a no-man’s land. The former Accra Great Olympics goalkeeper predictably was rather going to flamboyantly side kick the ball when it botched. Incidentally, the goal dents his perfect record of not having conceded in the qualifiers so far. Backtracking a little to last year’s FIFA World Cup, and precisely to the Ghana-Uruguay quarter final match, I have always held the opinion that Diego Forlan’s goal was the fault of Richard Kingson. He moved from position. The Jabulani had nothing to do with it, I guess. His demeanour to the penalty kicks was appalling. Several views of that match tell me Kingson could have even easily collected Sebastien Abreu’s kick had he not moved from position. That’s a bygone though and I will let it be!!!

Second fiddle in England

The conversation with Rev Osei Kofi also revealed that Richard Kingson possesses a unique skill that gets most world class goalkeepers jealous – the ability to dive. According to Osei Kofi, Taffarel of the Selecao team of USA World Cup 1994 fame confessed to his Ghanaian counterpart, Kingson, that they(South American goalkeepers) calculate their steps and that he admired the way Kingson dives to collect balls. Besides, Kingson prove in Ghana’s maiden participation in the world cup in 2006 of his abilities as, at one point, was ranked ahead of Gianluigi Buffon, Gregory Coupet and Iker Casillas as the goalie with the highest number of safes. He repeated this in South Africa as well. Great goalkeepers, undoubtedly, do better as they grow older and to think of when Kingson made his debut for the Black Stars in 1996, one did not doubt his exploits for the senior national soccer team ten years later. At the current age of 33, some of us expect a more agile and reflexive goalkeeper in Kingson. According to Osei Kofi, the Tunisian goalkeeper(Sadok Sassi) they beat in the 1965 finals was the same in post for the Carthage Eagles when they came back to Ghana for the 1978 edition. My current fear is that club football is not giving Kingson much as he has played second fiddle in all the English clubs he has signed for. He was declared occupying a ‘space of rubbish’ by Birmingham City, had little playing time at Wigan Athletic and Blackpool, which initially lit hope in his club career, later demoted him to the bench. Indisputably, the top goalkeepers in this world have continued their impressive form from club to country and so if Richard Kingson continues to remain on the bench in his yet-to-have club, then the opposite in the lives of Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon and Edwin Van der Sar is what may happen to him.

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