Not so long ago, former Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni decided to be ‘philanthropical’ by offering some Nigerian forwards to the Black Stars ahead of the Jollof Derby.
“We have about nine strikers for the game. Ghana doesn’t even have strikers so we can spare them some,” he said in an interview on Joy FM.
When the Super Eagles squad was released, several Ghanaians marvelled at the attacking options available whilst others lamented a gaping hole in the Black Stars’ current forward line.
Fears from the nation are seemingly justified considering the output of Ghanaian strikers in the last three years.
Since the end of the 2019 AFCON, Ghana has been involved in 18 games with their biggest win coming against Qatar (5-1). 24 goals were recorded during that period.
However, only 4 of them were scored by strikers. Jordan Ayew was responsible for two of them with the others coming from Caleb Ekuban and Richmond Boakye Yiadom.
This amounts to 16.7% of Black Stars goals scored in the last three years, a worrying statistic considering the huge importance of strikers in the game; finding the back of the net consistently.
A huge gap in quality has been evident since the absence of Asamoah Gyan, Ghana’s all-time leading scorer with 51 goals.
The burden of finding the net has shifted to the midfielders as they have netted 17 goals, accounting for an astonishing 70.8% of total goals scored.
Defenders in the team, unsurprisingly, have not found the net much with just three coming from that area (12.5%). But their numbers are close to that of the strikers which is a cause for worry.
André Ayew’s importance
Over the years, André Ayew has blossomed from the young son of Abedi Pele trying to fit in a team full of stars into the main star and leader of the team.
The Al Sadd midfielder has scored 23 goals since making his debut in 2007, only four players have scored more. He is also the second-highest capped player in Black Stars history, boasting a wealth of experience.
91.3% of his goals have come in competitive fixtures. He has also netted eight goals since the 2019 AFCON making him the top scorer of the team.
The former Swansea man will be unavailable for the doubleheader against Nigeria due to suspension, a huge blow to Otto Addo and the team.
The need for a new Gyan
In the late 2000s to 2010s, Ghana had a reliable striker in Asamoah Gyan to rely on for goals. In recent years, Jordan Ayew has been carrying the torch but it has looked too heavy for the Crystal Palace man who has somewhat struggled in all levels.
Jordan struggled at the 2021 AFCON, failing to hit a shot on target in three matches. Other options were fully trusted to fill in for Jordan, highlighted by Milovan Rajevac’s decision to play his brother André as a false 9 against Gabon.
These days, the hype has been on Asamoah’s namesake, Felix Afena-Gyan, who is gradually establishing himself with Serie A giants AS Roma.
The likes of Brian Brobbey and Edward Nketiah have also been thrown around but both are yet to announce their allegiances for Ghana.
Percious Boah carried himself as the main goal scorer in the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations squad last year but doesn’t look ready for the big stage.
In the meantime, Otto Addo has the herculean task of beating Nigeria with a seemingly misfiring strike force. After that hurdle is beaten, the technical staff have to groom or find a new Gyan, a new killer in the opposition goal.
By: Bill Eshun|3Sports|Ghana