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Sports Features of Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

Asamoah Gyan’s Mea Culpa and 20 Million Broken Hearts

Asamoah Gyan’s apology? What is that? Ghanaians have traversed that route again and again, and while we forgive a remorseful Gyan wholeheartedly, the mental pain that he has caused Ghanaians – and, to an extent, Africans – by his carelessness on the football field cannot be simply erased from our memories. It is not that easy.

First, Gyan broke the hearts of his fellow Ghanaians when he failed to convert that pivotal penalty kick against Uruguay at South Africa 2010. It was, purportedly, the last kick of the game, which would have placed Ghana in the semi-final, a feat that would have been unprecedented for Africa. But, more, it would have brought the continent the recognition that had eluded it for so long. It is possible for an African country to reach the semi-finals at Brazil 2014, or we may not get there at all for another 40 years! That is the unpredictability of the game. We had our chance and threw it away – no, Asamoah Gyan threw it away. That Gyan stubbornly chose himself for the spot kick at the 2010 World Cup, despite visible resistance from a wiser, calmer, and more experienced Stephen Appiah, showed that Gyan was more concerned about his total goal count at the tourney than anything else.

Second, Ghanaians had just begun recovering from the hurt at South Africa 2010 when Gyan did it again, this time at Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012. It is true that even great players miss penalty kicks occasionally, but it is different if one insists, against all advice, to take the kick and then the ball does not go into the net. Had the coach selected Gyan from the sideline and he missed, it would have been a different story. But here was Gyan who believed – and still believes, perhaps? – that Providence had appointed him to be Ghana’s savior on the pitch, so why is he complaining about all the verbal assaults that have gone his way since the end of the tourney? Gyan is responsible for the insults and criticisms that he is facing presently, and he needs to take them on the chin like a man. We should, however, stop insulting Gyan’s relatives. It is unfair to the player’s relatives, and we cannot truly justify this negative behavior.

Finally, I do not care if Gyan returns to the senior national team; there are other capable players who can fill that role. Others have not gotten the chance to demonstrate their talent and goal-scoring prowess because Gyan – a very careless Gyan – has been in the way. If he decides to return to the team, we should embrace him, but the coach should have other players ready to take penalty kicks, for it appears that Gyan is now permanently damaged when it comes to taking spot kicks. In fact, Gyan may never trust himself again to score from the spot when the game is on the line, so let us lessen his burden by finding other capable players for such a crucial assignment in the future.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is pursuing a doctoral degree in Criminology, Law & Society at George Mason University. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.