Christian Atsu has quickly put the ups and downs, the stress and emotions of Ghana’s 3-0 semi final victory over Equatorial Guinea behind him as the Chelsea player on loan at Everton focuses on Sunday’s grand finale against the Ivory Coast at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Atsu was in the tick of affairs at the Estadio de Malabo on Thursday night, first completing a one-two with fellow England based attacker, Kwesi Appiah, offering the pass which’s cause Appiah chased and won against Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper, Felipe Ovono on 42 minutes.
Gabonese referee, Eric Otogo-Castane had no choice than to point to the spot after Ovono’s tackle on the Ghanaian striker and leniently reward the host nation’s shot stopper with the yellow card as Jordan Ayew stepped into the shoes of elder brother, Dede to sweetly slot in Ghana’s opener.
Three minutes later and with a desperate host nation chasing level terms before the break, Atsu led a Ghana counter attack that eventually ended with him placing a perfect pas unto the feet of ever hardworking and determined Mubarak Wakaso who wasted no time in dummying an opposition defender before striking in a decisive strike to put the Black Stars 2-0 up and surely seal victory.
Atsu will battle on for Ghana all 90 minutes, even in the midst of over 20 minutes of delay due to the violent misbehaviour of fans of the host nation who found it too hard to take the comprehensive defeat Atsu and his international teammates had heaped on them right in their own country.
But the dribbling wizard insists the Black Stars were never unfazed in the face of an uncompromising and hostile Equatorial Guinea crowd.
“The home crowd was intimidating but it’s normal in football so we had to forget them,” Atsu affirmed at the beginning of his post-match interview with Supersport’s Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah live from the Estadio de Malabo.
“I think we have learnt a lot from this game and I think the next game we will not repeat them. We are very happy that at the end of the day we won and qualified for the final,” Atsu added.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s tournament deciding game against overly favourites, Ivory Coast, Atsu confessed to the strengths of Ghana’s opponents but the 23 year old is adamant his side will not be afraid to fight for glory.
“Its true they are the favourites if you look at the players they have, we very much agree but this is football and we don’t far anyone on the pitch. We are just there to work hard for every minute of the game so let’s wait for the final,” Atsu insisted.
Calm and focused as ever, he shrugged aside any suggestions that the Black Stars are going back to their hotel tonight to party all night over their comprehensive vcitory.
“This is not the time to celebrate, we are going to our hotel to rest and concentrate on our next game which is the final. We can celebrate after the final because that’s just what we so much want to do but not now,” Atsu stated without blinking an eye.
Afterwards, Supersport’s in-house panel led by the former Ghana defender, Sammy Kuffour hailed the extraordinary exploits of Christian Atsu at the tournament during which he has started all Ghana games thus far and was named the Orange man-of-the-match against South Africa.
“I think he can win the player of the tournament, why not? He has contributed to the team success, giving great passes, and scoring great goals, I think he can be the player of the tournament,” Kuffour said.
“To me Atsu has stated his case at this tournament to the likes of Chelsea and even Everton where now Samuel Eto’O has left so I believe when he goes back they will give him more playing opportunities than before. He’s a real star and I believe he will come good in the English Premier League,” Ghana-born former France World Cup winner, Marcel Desailly added. Follow @thedonplato
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