By Owusu Ansah Doe
Ghana intensified her dominance over rivals Nigeria at men's senior level football, after defeating the Super Eagles via a shootout in a pulsating African Nations Championship semi-final encounter earlier this week.
In what proved a spirited collective display from 10-man Ghana, it was still easy to single out the heroics of one member of that victorious local Black Stars team for special mention: goalkeeper Stephen Adams.
A GOALKEEPING COLOSSUS
Adams stands at all of 1.86m (6ft 1in) - certainly an admirable stature for any goalkeeper. He has made a series of crucial saves thus far in the competition, with the
apex of such fine form arguably coming in the semis as he denied Nigeria - scorers of 12 goals in the four games prior to the meeting with Ghana - several goalscoring opportunities and ultimately a berth to the finale against Libya on Saturday.
To summarise his performance, Adams has conceded just a goal throughout the tournament, and even that solitary concession did not come from open play.
He has been solid between the sticks for Ghana so far, contributing several terrific saves to keep Ghana in contention for the competition's top honours. One of such, pulled off late in extra-time on Wednesday when Adams appeared injured, prevented what could have been a certain matchwinner, after a Nigerian headed the ball down in the six-yard box only for it to bounce almost straight into Ghana's goal.
The Aduana Stars custodian perhaps does it better than any other local goalkeeper; that much is reflected in the fact that he only narrowly missed out on inclusion in the squad that represented Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, with the trio of Richard Kingson, Daniel Adjei and Stephen Ahorlu being picked instead. Nevertheless, Adams has relentlessly knocked on the doors of Black Stars proper with consistently scintillating displays in the local league since that disappointment.
Considering the obvious challenges facing the senior national team's goalkeeping department at the moment, consideration could be given to Adams by Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah and his assistants.
Adams' penalty-saving ability, as evidenced briefly in Wednesday's game against Nigeria, could boost his credentials even more. He proved he could be counted on to an extent in such situations by stopping one spot-kick from the Nigerians and guessing rightly even on those occasions when he failed to get a saving hand to the ball.
Adams’ imposing physical presence, his chewing gum-induced alertness, fine reflexes, aerial prowess, as well as incredible shot-stopping techniques, could make a case for his inclusion in Ghana's squad for the summer's World Cup should he keep excelling between now and June.
Certainly a player of such ilk could hardly go unnoticed.