You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 01 01Article 498117

Sports Features of Sunday, 1 January 2017


Can Waris be Ghana's goal-scoring hero in Gabon?

He had a very anonymous start to the season in France going 13 games without a goal. Despite the frustration of turning in eye-catching performances but being unable to get onto the score sheet, Abdul Majeed Waris remained steadfast at his task and continued to work hard.

And once he hit a rich vein of scoring form, he has not looked back.

Waris scored his first Ligue 1 goal of the season for Lorient on November 26 against Metz which ensured his side took away a valuable point on the road as they sat at the bottom of the log. Three days later on November 29, the Ghanaian popped up for les Merlus as he scored the winning goal in a rare victory for the strugglers against Rennes.

His sudden return to scoring form was a ray of hope for Lorient who were rock bottom of the league. Alongside Cameroonian striker Benjamin Moukandjo, there was growing hope that they would be able to survive with Waris leading their attack.

Days later Waris scored his third straight goal as he rescued a point for his team in a 2-2 draw at Angers. Surely his star was shining at the right time.

And then he notched a fourth goal against Toulouse on December 10 but Lorient unfortunately lost 3-2.

The Ghanaian forward was rewarded for his performances for the club with the November player of the month award by the fans. It was a high point for the 25-year-old who had struggled to make any impact in the early part of the season.

He was substituted early in their final game of the season against Paris Saint Germain after a clash with a defender which denied him of continuing his impressive scoring streak.

And with Ghana set for the Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Gabon in two weeks, Waris’ form would be an important asset for the four time champions who have not won a senior title since 1982.

The Black Stars have been struggling to score goals in their recent international outings. They have scored just twice in their last five matches – they lost 1-0 to Russia in a friendly in September, days after playing a 1-1 draw with Rwanda and failed to score in a goalless World Cup qualifier against Uganda while losing 2-0 away to Egypt.

Ghana drew 1-1 with South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on October 11.

With injury to influential captain Asamoah Gyan, the task of leading the Black Stars attack could fall on Waris who has previously played from the left wing.

As coach Avram Grant is desperate for a job saving tournament that will determine his future with the West African side, a good performance that would be capable of winning the title after 34 years is what many fans are clamouring for.

Is Waris the man to offer up the goals for Ghana when they go to Gabon? He is a keen dribbler that thrives on the left side of attack where he has gotten his goals so far. Strength on the ball and his ability to win fouls for his side could create the opportunity for the returning Andre Ayew to shoot from set pieces.

While Waris has scored just four times in his 22 caps for Ghana, maybe he will not be so prolific in front of goal. But he will be able to offer Grant’s team an extra dimension to explore as they seek for victory.

This could be the Afcon where Waris becomes not just a Ghanaian hero, but a name recognised all over the continent and beyond.