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Gyan shines amid gloom for African nations

sports Updated: Jun 21, 2010 01:52 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

The first ended with an expulsion against Brazil but in his second World Cup, Asamoah Gyan has proved he is worth more than 68 seconds of fame. That was how long it took Gyan to get noticed in Germany, his goal against the Czech Republic being the fastest of the last World Cup and the first-ever for Ghana in the finals.

Gyan, 22, is Ghana’s only goalscorer so far and the lone bright spot amid increasing African gloom. The penalty against Serbia extended his record of netting the opener for Ghana in their last four tournaments including two African Cup of Nations.

The lone striker’s cool penalty against Australia here on Saturday took his international goal tally to 21 from 40 games and gave Ghana four points from two matches, the best record for an African team going into Sunday’s games.

It also fetched him a second Man-of-the-Match award but Gyan said he won’t let the attention affect him. “This is a team game and I shouldn’t be swollen-headed. I just want to score as many as possible for my team and win more games,” the striker, who plays for Rennes in France, said.

Proof of Gyan’s tendency to highlight the collective came earlier too when he thanked his teammates and the “people of Ghana” for the equaliser in the 1-1 draw. Thanking his countrymen was significant because Gyan, in the face of sustained public criticism, almost quit the national team in 2008.

After a season riddled with injuries, Gyan said he hopes the World Cup would be a turning point in his career. “I have regained my confidence by scoring a few goals at the club and the national team. I am hoping to do well in this competition.”

Said to be the squad’s funny bone and the one who helps it stay positive, Gyan said he is upbeat about playing Germany against whom Ghana need a draw to emulate their second-round showing in 2006. “As the spearhead of my team, I must give my heart out. We are not going to go for a draw though I know it will do.”

Gyan said Ghana missed a great opportunity to seal a pre-quarter final berth, especially with Australia down to 10 men. “We started slowly and went down. After the red card, we knew were capable of winning it. But that’s football.”

His conversion rate and confidence has already made Gyan a leader. One of the flipsides that is being repeatedly asked how confident Gyan is of Ghana going to the second round from a group where all teams still have a chance.

Before Gyan, Ghana’s Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac was asked whether being the best African team would add to the pressure against Germany. Rajevac said: “We know what Germany are about but they lost against Serbia. In football, anything’s possible.”

Should they flounder, it is unlikely Ghana and the rest of Africa will buy that line of argument. And headlines like ‘Yes, we Gyan’, may give way to ones less heartwarming. Gyaan on Gyan