2014 World Cup: Kevin Boateng, the Black Stars' shining light

Published on: 03 June 2014
2014 World Cup: Kevin Boateng, the Black Stars' shining light
Kevin-Boateng

It is time to pick up your African flag. Me, I'm backing the one with the black star in the middle. Ghana must contend with a hairy group, I know: Germany, Portugal and the US block its stairway to the knockout rounds.

But the Black Stars have a plausible shot at repeating their 2010 quarterfinal finish - and perhaps going even further, to vanquish the spectre of the sniggering visage of Luis Suarez. The Ghanaians could even meet the Uruguayans in either of the two semifinals in the unlikely event they both get that far.

They disappointed many at the last Africa Nations Cup, falling to an inspired Burkina Faso in the semifinals, but James Kwesi Appiah's army harbours a potentially inflammable mixture of stellar young potential (winger Christian Atsu, central midfielder Afriyie Acquah, keeper Adam Kwarasey, forward Jordan Ayew) and gnarled experience (Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan).

Three key starting players - Kevin-Prince Boateng, 27, Kwadwo Asamoah, 25, and André Ayew, 24 - have entered an optimal age window in which street savvy and physical capacity coincide.

Left-footed schemer Asamoah has just bagged his second successive Serie A title with Juventus, but the other two have come off modest club seasons for Schalke and Marseille. But that may actually be a factor in their favour. Players enjoying imperious club form, particularly those who have fought arduous European campaigns, are often mentally and physically knackered come World Cup time.

Boateng's form or lack thereof will be pivotal. He is considered something of an opportunist by many Ghana fans, since he picks and chooses his international tournaments and bunked the last Nations Cup. But he's no wandering palooka: he is a fearsome footballer who has never quite corralled his energy and power into sustained application. He had a troubled, volatile, fatherless youth (arguably the reason he was not selected by Germany, as his half-brother Jerome was, and thus threw in his lot with his father's homeland). And he still gathers red cards with the enthusiasm of a stamp collector. But he deserves respect for his principled stand against fan racism - he led AC Milan's abandonment of a friendly fixture last year.

And there is little point in judging his loyalty to the Ghanaian cause: these days, the call of your country is an optional one, whether your connection to the country in question is intimate or distantly ancestral.

Ask half the senior Bafana squad, who recently decided that a long outing to defend South Africa's shabby honour in the Antipodes was too much of a drag.

If Appiah opts for an attacking formation against the US and Portugal, the odds are that Boateng will line up behind Gyan in a shadow striker role, with Asamoah and Atsu patrolling the wings and André Ayew prompting in a deep playmaking role alongside one of Muntari or Essien.

Against Germany, he might be kept on the bench if Appiah opts for two defensive midfielders. Either way, he will have an impact. One thing Boateng doesn't do is disappear: he either screws up spectacularly or leads from the front.

With one Cristiano Ronaldo looming into Ghana's field of vision, the man in the onion bag will arguably be the most important performer of all. Orlando Pirates' goalkeeper Fatau Dauda has barely played in South Africa, and has thus lost the ascendancy in his struggle for the jersey with half-Norwegian netminder Adam Kwarasey. The Stromsgodet captain is a rising force, and his height gives him a technical edge in commanding his area.

Beyond the individual performances of their key players, the Ghanaians also need to recover the charisma and emotional intensity they showed at South Africa 2010. But if a World Cup in Brazil can't get their hearts pumping, nothing will.

Comments

  • b4world
    says: 5 years ago
    this article is full of shit,the guy is a selfish user n self centered,mr i want 2 score every goal,he might mess it up 4 everybody.
  • Ghanaman
    says: 5 years ago
    b4world well said. He is mr i want to score all the goals. World cup is no joke eeh, he better be productive
  • selfmade
    says: 5 years ago
    shut up u guys.. mo kasa dodo
  • Ghanaman
    says: 5 years ago
    U shut up!
  • selfmade
    says: 5 years ago
    Stop using my I.d.!! Can't even believed this GENETIC GOOFS!
  • Pastor Adjei
    says: 5 years ago
    chaley bois kasaa oooo.......i believe we all watched our recent friendly wif holland nd to be honest wif ourselves until dis Kevin guy was introdced we hadnt try any shot at goal....lets jus see how instrumental he was wif his passes and touches...i mean this is clear indication that he will be of great help to our black stars lets all support them wif one spirit...........