Sports News of Tuesday, 10 February 2015
A past double winner of four of Ghana’s African Nations Cup titles in 1963 and 1965, Rev. Osei Kofi, has commended Black Stars skipper, Asamoah Gyan for avoiding a role in the penalty shootouts that starved Ghana a 5th title after a thirty-three year wait.
Asamoah Gyan strangely requested to be substituted in Sunday’s 2015 AFCON final clash with the Ivory Coast in Equatorial Guinea, few minutes to an inevitable penalty shootout.
In the end, Ghana lost 8-9 in the shootout after the Ivory Coast had missed two kicks putting Ghana in an advantage to sail through comfortably. Although many Ghanaians have largely blamed the team’s failure to annex the trophy on some element of hard luck, other critics believe Ghana did not select its best penalty kickers.
Surprisingly, however, some have courageously criticized the skipper Asamoah Gyan for not playing a role in the kicks. They say his decision to skip the spot kicks by requesting to be substituted was cowardice and unpatriotic.
The skipper, who had won the hearts of many Ghanaians as a lead scorer, suddenly became a pain in the neck of many after missing a historic penalty that could have given Ghana and Africa its first semi-final appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Some irate fans nearly burned down the home of Asamoah Gyan’s father for his son’s failure. The severity of the anger and criticisms compelled the striker to make a vow not to take spot kicks for the country. The striker went ahead to make this promise to his mother who’s now deceased.
But the retired two-time AFCON winner who was also joint top scorer in the 1965 AFCON and the third highest scorer in 1968, Rev. Osei Kofi, told TV3 Midday Sports that Gyan took one of the best decisions of his international career.
“I salute Asamoah Gyan for asking the coach that he should allow him to rest for the penalty shoot-out. I was in his house when angry supporters wanted to burn down his father’s house for missing a crucial penalty. So I salute him for that decision; and that is not the reason why we lost” he stated.
The man who was affectionately nicknamed the ‘wizard dribbler’ because of his ball dribbling skills, however, believes Ghana did not put forward its best spot kick takers for the first five shootouts.
“Before the end of the second half of the extra time, I think the coach and his technical men should have selected five first-class kickers of the penalties. After scoring two, the Ivoirians lost two; and that for me should have been a complete presentation of the trophy to the Black Stars. So I don’t think there should be any excuse from anywhere.
“Ivory Coast handed the cup to us on a silver platter but we couldn’t grab it. Winning a trophy is never easy; but I haven’t witnessed a situation where your opponent misses two penalties and still comes back to beat you when you were leading”.
But Rev. Osei Kofi has commended the Coach Avram Grant and his team for a good showing at the tournament. He is optimistic the team can achieve a lot in the years ahead if it stays intact.