Soccer News of Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Source: Daily Guide

Gyan: I Was A Broken Man

Ghana’s top striker Asamoah Gyan, who missed a decisive penalty kick, says he has put last Friday’s Black Stars’ defeat behind him and is refocusing on new ideas for the future.

Asamoah, who allegedly incurred the wrath of team Captain, Stephen Appiah, for missing the crucial penalty shoot-out, said rather than lamenting over the penalty which cost Ghana a historic semi-final place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, he was focusing on his career.

He however indicated that he felt like his world had come crumbling moments after missing the regulation-time penalty against Uruguay.

"It was a major disappointment. I was a broken man but these things happen in football and I have to move on.

“I know when all is said and done that I had a good tournament. It is unfortunate it ended the way it did but that is past now," he told the BBC.

He indicated that although he felt sad that the penalty had caused a lot of pain and disappointment to millions of Ghanaians and other admirers of the Black Stars, “it is part of the game”.

After Portuguese Referee Olegario Benquerenca signaled for a penalty in the 120th minute of extra-time, it appeared that there was a fracas between the striker, who had three goals to his credit and was in contention for the Golden Boot award, and his captain, Stephen Appiah.

Stephen Appiah, the regular penalty taker for the team and a substituted player, had wanted to take the crucial spot kick, but Asamoah Gyan picked the ball and went ahead to take the kick which hit the bar.

Interestingly, Appiah was seen gesticulating to the striker as if to say, ‘I told you to let me take the kick’, after the opportunity to make history was lost.

Asked how he felt about “letting the entire continent down”, Asamoah Gyan said, “I’m mentally strong and so I’m relaxed. I have watched the game three times. It is hard luck. “I do understand the game (of football). It is full of ups and downs.”

He was optimistic about Ghana’s chances in the next World Cup tournament, saying, “We’ve improved (upon our 2006 World Cup record). In 2014, hopefully something better will happen for Ghana as we have a young team.”

The striker, who scored three goals for Ghana at the Mundial, disclosed that he stepped forward to take the ill-fated spot-kick as he was the first penalty taker of the team.

“I was the first taker of the team. I was nominated by the coach, so I didn’t feel any pressure at all.”

But a sports psychologist debunked Asamoah Gyan’s assertion that he did not feel any pressure.

According to the sports psychologist, who spoke to the BBC’s Farai Mungazi on Fast Track yesterday, when a person was under pressure, his muscles became tensed up and he was likely to act quicker than was usually the case. In that instance, the person’s movements would not be in tandem with his thoughts.

The psychologist therefore concluded that it was possible that Asamoah Gyan might not have measured accurately before taking the penalty due to anxiety, occasioned by the pressure he felt.

It would be recalled that the Black Stars crashed out of the ongoing FIFA World Cup, as Uruguay beat them 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 regulation time score-line on Friday.

Ghana had the opportunity to grab the match winner in the dying embers of extra-time when they had a penalty after Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had handled the ball on the goal line.

Asamoah Gyan’s spot kick however hit the cross-bar, to the disappointment of millions of Africans and the 84,000 spectators that had jammed the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg to support Ghana.

It was a heart-breaking end to a hitherto successful campaign which saw the Black Stars carrying the hopes and aspirations of the entire African continent.

Indeed, African leaders including Nelson Mandela, had, prior to the match, declared their support for the Black Stars, but at the end of hostilities, it was the South Americans that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.