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Sports News of Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Massa, Gyan: A tale of two strikers

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It will be a tale of two strikers when Uganda and Ghana lock horns in a Group D fixture at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in State de Port-Gentil today.

The national captain’s armbands that they share aside, Asamoah Gyan and Geoffrey Massa could not be more different.

The strikers have both had their dark days — Gyan when he was alleged to have sacrificed his friend, the Ghanaian rapper Castro, in a ritual; Massa when he went one year, a month and 24 days without scoring a Cranes goal —but there is no prize for guessing whose nerves you can almost hear jangle.

Massa was relieved rather than elated to come through Uganda’s buildup to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations or Afcon finals with a goal.

The header against Slovakia ended a goal drought on the international scene that went back to September of 2015 when a screamer sent Uganda on the way to a 3-0 home win over Togo.

The general consensus though is failure to come up with the goods in Port-Gentil might tone down Massa’s enthusiasm.

As his position as Cranes spearhead has come under scrutiny, speculation has run rife that South African club Baroka FC has severed ties with the 30-year-old striker.

Gyan, who turns 32 this year, has been plagued by injury this season. He, however, always delivers on the big stage for his country.

He is one goal away from eclipsing Osei Kofi as the Black Stars’ all-time top scorer at the Afcon finals.

Gyan has hinted at the law of averages tipping the scales in Ghana’s favour. The Black Stars have not won an African title since 1982, but have lost two penalty shootouts at the final bend in 2008 and 2015.

Black Stars coach Avram Grant described the near misses as “memories.”

He added that “now we want to achieve something.” After the pre-match press conference at Port-Gentil, Gyan was mobbed by adoring fans who wanted a selfie.

He obliged. On his part, Massa was anything but a star attraction after fielding questions from the media. That all could change tomorrow. Or could it?