For a moment yesterday, I felt what Accra has to go through every time Gyan takes a decisive penalty and misses. This time round it wasn’t in the dying minutes but the opening minutes, a low shot and again, he stared into space, what on earth was he doing? I might have not played great football, but my junior school coach taught me that in such occasions, choose a target, hit it hard and wait, the keeper is not going to get there and that’s what again Gyan missed last night. They surely paid for it when Zambia finally managed one goal and nervously strode their way into the final at the expense of my favorites. Talk of the Zambian’s coach lucky white shirt? I doubt if it’s that lucky, he just gave his team a game plan, made his players believe in it and sat back to watch the mighty Ghana crumble.
Gervinho has never impressed me as an EPL fan so far, but what he did yesterday made every Ivorian happy. O.K, I now get it, Mali’s defence knocked them out of the tournament technically by not timing that Gervinho run carefully and when everybody thought he was going to pass the ball, it was at the back of the net, at that moment, Bamako goes silent, Abidjan celebrates late into the night.
In a tournament of this sort, there are always a few lessons to learn, and this year’s AFCON is not short of them, here are a few i thought you would also note..
1. Gyan should stop taking penalties
I’m a big Gyan fan, on and off the pitch. His song African Girls actually filters the room every time someone calls me but yesterday I had to change it, maybe John Cena’s ‘MY TIME IS NOW’ should be my new ringtone hence forth. Whenever he steps up to take penalties of huge significance to the team and the country he deceives. Some may argue with me that even the best in this world miss crucial spot kicks due to luck and pressure, but when it is repeated, what do we say that is? Getting used to us, PERIOD!
2. Take your chances when they come, you might need them later.
Clearly spelt out in each game, bury your chances when you have them, Zambia had very few compared to Ghana, but what they did in explicit fashion was to score when it counted and left Ghana ruing their chances. Had Gervinho never converted that chance, maybe the Malian gods, would have saved them at the penalties and we would have been all talking a different story.
3. There are no underdogs in any competition
Each team has a strong point and a weak one too. What counts is building on your strongest points most and exploiting the opponents weakest points. Zambia did this in style noticing the Ghanians’ never had a good keeper and made good use of it, Ghana on the other hand, never built on their good midfield and lacked sharpness in front of goal. Thus the ‘underdogs’ of Zambia walked into the final, a final they deserve to play in.
On a lighter note, last lesson I think everyone else should know too is that that Zambian lucky white shirt works miracles, Didier Drogba’s mother’s cooking is good luck and how I wished Ivory Coast could score the goals, don’t worry themselves trying to celebrate, simply invite the Bafana Bafana to do a dance for them, South African players can dance, right, Ivorians? Awful dancers. But until then, the dancing doesn’t count here, can’t wait for the final, the copper bullets shooting a Elephant? That would be exciting to see. Should the Elephant fall or should the bullets fail, a good final is in our hands, the goals decide it, the players decide it, what me and you got to do, book our seats, enjoy the game and crown Africa’s best.