By Matt Carter
Starring down the barrel of a goalless draw that would have left them teetering on the brink of a demeaning elimination, Ghana were crying out for a hero. The identity of the man who answered the Black Stars crisis call was of no surprise.
It could only be Asamoah Gyan, who deep into stoppage time, belittled the impact of being hospitalised just days earlier following a bout of malaria to breathe new life into Ghana’s dwindling campaign.
If ever there was an example to highlight exactly why the 29-year-old is deserving of a place alongside the pinnacle of African football, this was it. The goal itself was typical of Gyan as the striker superbly took down Wakaso Mubarak’s long ball, before racing clear and prodding home.
In truth for much of the contest Gyan had cut a pale imitation of his normal rousing self – hardly astonishing considering Avram Grant revealed the Al-Ain man had barely trained in advance of the crunch clash.
Yet, for both the connotations and circumstances involved, Gyan was undoubtedly the overriding narrative of day seven. That viewpoint only being enhanced when you consider that prior to Ghana’s last gasp winner, the tournament was in the midst of a three hour goal famine and in dire need of inspiration.
His ability to lift a team is unrivalled, whilst in a tournament that many are suggesting will be won on moments – accounting for the largely level playing field – the Black Stars skipper is more capable than most of turning even tightest of fixtures on its head. Further to that, in an AFCON that has been typified by wayward finishing, what Gyan provides Ghana is a clinical edge that few can equal.
If Ghana can hit their stride – which is unfortunately a rather substantial if – then with their skipper in inspirational mood, the Black Stars campaign might yet amount to be more prosperous than the doomsday merchants have forecast.