Gyan has a point to prove

Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan has a lot to prove. His rollercoaster ride with the Black Stars sees him as their new captain, leading a side expected to challenge for the continent’s number one prize.

 

Describing his time with the Black Stars as a rollercoaster might just be the tip of the iceberg. Whether he is scoring goals, singing, or missing penalty kicks, he has been in the spotlight for almost a decade. It’s also a spotlight that has seen some rather prickly behaviour.

Gyan is naturally thrilled. In a carefully worded statement, the UAE-based striker said it is a "tremendous honour" to be Ghana captain and has hopes the country's long wait for a major title will end under his leadership.

But it won't be an easy ride for Gyan. Some have questioned his appointment and they’ve a fair bit of ammunition to use.

Critics point to the missed penalty kick against Uruguay that would have taken Ghana to the semi-finals of the World Cup and also failed with a spot-kick in a semi-final defeat to Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations suggest he is brittle and can't be trusted to lead when the stakes are high.

Yet Gyan has proven his big-match pedigree, entering history as the author of Ghana’s first-ever goal at the FIFA World Cup finals - against the Czech Republic in Cologne in 2006. and went on to add another three at the same competition four years later. His record of a goal at international level in every two games is unmatched by any Ghanaian striker in recent years, and he has a very good disciplinary record

In 2010, he scored six of the country's nine goals as the Black Stars reached the final of the Nations Cup and the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

It should also be remembered in the penalty shoot out with Uruguay he had the courage to take, and score, the first penalty almost straight after his earlier miss.

That’s the good. On the debit side he threatened to walk out of camp when he was widely abused for missing goal-scoring opportunities at the 2008 Nations Cup. It all came flooding back after the penalty misses against Uruguay in 2010 and Zambia earlier this year. You need a thick skin to be captain of an African team and Gyan’s is wafer thin leading to a lot of resentment when he reacts poorly.

The 26-year-old started his career at Liberty Professionals in Accra but went with several compatriots to Udinese in Italy in early 2004. The Italian club gave him his Serie A debut as a substitute within weeks of his arrival but then loaned him out to Serie B side Modena for more experience.

A total of 15 goals over two seasons saw him brought back to Udinese, where injury retarded his chances, but he still managed 11 goals in 27 starts. Gyan has always had all the assets to be a major star of the future, combining pace with a deadly touch in the penalty area. He is typical of solid west African strikers, with super power in his legs that give his shots explosive acceleration, upper body strength to hassle defenders and a good spring to produce effective combat in the air as well.
 
His World Cup form in 2010 earned him a move from He was just five days shy of his 18th birthday when he made his debut for the Black Stars. He was called up by caretaker coach Ralf Zumdick for the start of the qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup and came on as a late substitute in the first leg of the preliminary round clash against Somalia. Within five minutes, Gyan had scored a dream debut goal.

During the group phase of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, he got a vital late equaliser against Rennes to Sunderland in the English Premier League where he formed an effective partnership with Darren Bent. However at the start of the 2011-12 season Al Ain came calling with the sort of contract that was impossible to turn down and he moved again, first on loan before the move became permanent in 2012.

Being captain for the Black Stars, whose fans demand a victory in every game, means there could be more storms on the horizon for one of Ghana football's most dominant characters.

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