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Soccer News of Saturday, 15 April 2006

Source: Darling Boy Gibson(Radio Mercury,Kumasi)

Player to Watch: Prince of goals

Player to Watch: Prince of goals ready to reign With close to 70 goals to his name during the last three seasons, young Ghana striker Prince Tagoe now has his sights set on a place in his country's 2006 FIFA World Cup? squad.

Tagoe scored freely for Ghanaian second division club Midtjylland and Hearts of Oak, one of the country's biggest clubs, prior to securing a move to Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad at the end of January.

The transfer completed a whirlwind start to the year for the 19-year-old, who made his Ghana debut in a friendly against Tunisia on 15 January and subsequently appeared twice at the CAF African Nations Cup, coming on as a late substitute against Senegal and then playing the first 45 minutes of the embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Zimbabwe.

Before the Nations Cup was over, he had already agreed to join Al Ittihad, where he has teamed up with Sierra Leone striker Mohamed Kallon and Cameroon's Joseph-Desire Job, the African attackers who helped the club capture the AFC Champions League last season. "I am looking forward to playing with the Saudi club," said the teenager. "When a big club like that comes for you, then you feel wanted and you don't think twice about it."

Tagoe was a crucial player for Hearts in the 2005 season, scoring 18 goals to finish as the league's top scorer. His subsequent inclusion in Ghana's squad for the Nations Cup finals was a significant moment as there have been few occasions in the past decade or so that the top scorer in Ghanaian domestic football league has received such recognition.

Go to the Ghana team page On the previous occasion in 2002 it was another Hearts striker Ismael Addo who was included in the squad for the finals in Mali, after finishing as top scorer for three successive seasons. Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic selected Tagoe at the expense of the more experienced pair of Isaac Boakye who plays his club football in Germany and the Russia-based Baffour Gyan. Unlike Tagoe, both had featured during the Germany 2006 qualifiers.

"He is a promising player and I think he will be one of Africa's best players in the near future," Ghana coach Dujkovic said of the young striker. Nobody at his former club Hearts would disagree with that assessment. Such was their reliance on Tagoe last season that a rare lean spell in front of goal for him coincided with Hearts going five matches without a win.

Despite his limited experience with Ghana's senior team, Tagoe shone in continental competition during his time with Hearts. In his first season of top-flight football, he struck a hat-trick in Hearts' 5-1 demolition of Cameroon side Sable de Batie in the maiden CAF Confederation Cup in 2004. He eventually finished as joint-top scorer as his team won Africa's second most prestigious club competition.

Tagoe, who was also Hearts' leading scorer in their 2004 domestic title triumph, got on the score sheet in the 2005 African Champions League too, scoring twice in Heart?s defeat against Nigeria's Dolphin FC. For his country, meanwhile, he was top scorer and best player as Ghana won the Four-Nation WAFU U-20 tournament in Accra last October.

Read about other Players to Watch Dauda Solomon Luttertodt, who was Tagoe's coach at Midtjylland and worked with him subsequently at Hearts in his capacity as assistant coach there, has played a major role in his development. He describes the forward as intelligent, highly disciplined and humble, and ascribes his success to his willingness to listen to and carry out his coaches' instructions.

If his attitude is a factor, then so are his natural attributes. Standing at over six feet, Tago boasts speed and outstanding vision in addition to his clinical finishing. These qualities have earned him the nickname 'Prince of goals' although to his markers he could more readily be seen as the 'Prince of darkness'. He certainly has the pace to leave a defender to dead so give him a little space and he can punish you for it.

Now Ghana's young Prince just wants the chance to display these qualities on the world stage in Germany this summer.