Former United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel put it quite aptly when he said, “For a goalkeeper, there is no hiding place”.
That was certainly the case after Ghana’s defeat to Morocco in Rabat on Tuesday night.
Razak Abalora walked off the pitch at full time knowing he had cost Ghana again. It was his mistake that had put Ghana to the sword this time.
The Atlas Lions were insipid in large spells of the game. Nothing was quite working for them and when they needed a lift, their coach Vahid Halilhodzic turned to their talisman, Hakim Ziyech, who was seated pensively and looking on.
The Chelsea star walked on in the 68th minute of the game to massive applause.
He made an instant impact.
As his free-kick flew through the Moroccan sky, Ghana’s goalkeeper Razak Abalora had made up his mind to come in between the attackers and punch the ball away into safety but his plan, however he hatched it, didn’t quite come off the way he wanted.
Instead, the execution looked like a diver who had climbed up the springboard, ready to dive into the Olympic pool.
He missed the ball woefully only for Moroccan captain Jawad El Yamiq to help it in with the littlest of touches past the swarm of Ghanaian defenders in the goal area and the box.
Goalkeeping has always been a delicate area for Ghana.
From the days of Robert Mensah through to Eddie Ansah to date, it is a position football fans have been very critical of.
The man in question here, Razak Abalora, would have to remember that even in a dead rubber game against ‘whipping boys’ of the group, Sao Tome and Principe, in the AFCON qualifiers, his negligence gave them the only goal of the qualifying series.
The interesting thing about the Kotoko Number One is how confident he is. You never quite see someone so confident at his craft yet making unpardonable mistakes at it.
Right from his days as a 16-year-old at the West African Football Academy (WAFA), there were traits that he will go on to be a good goalkeeper but to be great will be his own doing.
How he will move on from being Kotoko’s Number One to becoming Black Stars Number One will be dependent on him and so far he has failed woefully.
The confidence of goalkeepers is helped when coaches stick their neck out for their man no matter the circumstance but for how long can Akonnor stick with Abalora when there are many of them knocking hard and long to get in.
Does he choose to start with him again in the game against Ivory Coast this weekend? How will that affect Abalora’s confidence? He is young and deserves to be nurtured but it becomes extremely difficult when the mistakes are as unforgivable as the ones he has committed in back-to-back games for Ghana.
Will the defenders trust that he will be a reliable rock for them at the back if they falter? These are big questions.
There will be a huge public outburst of how bad he was in goal at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah. The question is how will he take it? The last goalkeeper Ghanaians pilloried in this manner lost his cool and insulted the citizenry while a major tournament was ongoing and the team needed the support of the fans.
There are lessons to be learned. Maybe Abalora is too young to have known the bizarre story of Patrick Antwi but the lessons he seeks could be in there.
It was March 27, 2008. Antwi had replaced regular goalkeeper Richard Kingson at the start of the break and conceded two goals, the first, in the 77th minute, turning out a bizarre equalizer after the Stars had taken the lead.
Patrick had received a back pass from midfielder Michael Essien but slipped to the floor as he tried a pass, enabling Carlos Salsido to pounce. The Mexicans scored from that and won the game eventually in the closing stages when Eric Addo brought an attacker down to concede a penalty.
But the debutant Antwi took the fall for it. He barely got any chances in the national team until he retired later on.
Ghana’s Number One is Richard Ofori as has been for a while now and it was probably Abalora’s thought that he could slowly topple him now that he is out nursing an injury.
If that thought is right, by the account of what happened in Morocco, he’ll need to banish it indefinitely.
By Yaw Ofosu Larbi|3news.com|Ghana