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The long-standing Ghanaian goalkeeper has had to deal with much criticism and light-hearted mockery ever since his return to the national set-up ahead of the Ghana-Egypt tie

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Michael Appiah

Ever since Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah handed veteran goalkeeper Richard Kingson a call-up for the crucial 2014 World Cup play-off against Egypt, Ghanaians have welcome the news with mixed feelings ranging from the authenticity of his age to his ability to keep the post for the Black Stars after a two-year hiatus.

OLELE | The veteran shot-stopper has been the subject of football discussion in Ghana

Some critics have passionately questioned the rationale behind Kingson’s invitation and have even argued that his prolonged absence has affected his agility and blunted his reflexes a great deal.

There is also a question of the quality of the Cypriot league in which he features for Doxa Katokopias. The issue about the genuinely of his 'official' age has even taken an interesting and ridiculous dimension as people have come up with all forms of mathematical ‘logic’ to cast doubt on his official age of 35.

Some critics have even turned into ‘freedom fighters’ overnight as they speak vehemently against the ‘injustice’ they believe is being meted out to the goalkeepers who they claim have been in the trenches all this while.

However, what most of these fail to consider is whether Kingson’s inclusion is an actual cause for worry or that their doubts and fears are only a figment of their imagination.

GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

There is a saying that goalkeepers, much like old wine, get better with age and this has been given credence by numerous examples who even into their late 30s and early 40s have performed remarkably better than their younger counterparts. To illustrate, during the Fifa World Cup 2010 which was held in South Africa, England’s coach, Fabio Capello, decided to field the younger Robert Green ahead of the more experienced David James (aged 40 at the time) in their opening group game against the USA.

One remarkable feat we cannot forget so easily is how he marshaled and led a very youthful and inexperienced Black Stars side at the 2010 Afcon in Angola where Ghana finished runners-up

After the match ended 1-1, Capello hardly required a rocket scientist to tell him that if indeed he desired progress to the next stage of the competition for his side, he would need to field good old James, with Green proving a bundle of nerves and totally uninspiring in the game against the Yanks in which he conceded via a terrible howler.

Kingson may - or may not - be as young as his official records state, but his advancement in age comes with a wealth of experience that pretty much cancels out the other goalkeeping options completely. ‘Olele’ is one goalkeeper who has seen it all on the African terrain. He was the No.1 choice in goal for Ghana during the Africa Cup of Nations of 2000, 2008 and 2010, the last two editions of which saw him voted member of the All-Star teams.

One remarkable feat we cannot forget so easily is how he marshaled and led a very youthful and
"Capello hardly required a rocket scientist to tell him that if indeed he desired progress to the next stage ..., he would need to field good old David James, with Robert Green proving a bundle of nerves"
inexperienced Black Stars side at the 2010 Afcon in Angola where Ghana finished runners-up, even without the likes of John Mensah, John Painstil, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien.

If we would prove any match for a homegrown and experienced Egyptian side who know all the ins and outs of African football, this is anything but a time to hand the mantle to novices.

AT CLUB LEVEL

Another issue Kingson’s critics have stressed on is his current performance at club level. It would be totally unfair to rate a goalkeeper’s performance on highlight reels which often feature only goals conceded. Even if this obviously biased view on his club form is justified at all, it is quite clear that it does not take into consideration Kingson’s trajectory at club level since his move to Turkish side Galatasaray in 1996.

A critical analysis of Kingson's club career would reveal just how bumpy and rough he's had it thus far. That notwithstanding, anytime he has had the chance to play for the national side, he has embraced the opportunity fully, using the platform to market himself to the world.

In times past and even now, many players have been blasted for performing extremely well at club level yet simply fading then when given national call-ups. In light of this phenomenon, a player who supposedly performs ‘poorly’ at club level and gives his all for the national team is much more preferable.

It is quite unfortunate that many pundits and soccer fans have decided to give Kingson the coldest of receptions, with little or no regard for his qualities and achievements. The only way he can prove them wrong is to go beyond the run-of-the-mill performance on October 15 at the Baba Yara Stadium.

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