Ghana: Why Richmond Boakye must start vs. Rwanda

GOALEDITORIAL    By Prince Narkortu Teye     Follow on Twitter

There’s no doubt that competition for places in the Ghana squad has become keener over the past years.

While the fight has been fiercest in midfield–a traditional area of strength that has seen the likes of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, and Laryea Kingston strut their stuff in recent times–there forward line hasn’t always been flush with talent.

However, a closer look makes it clear that the Black Stars can now call upon considerable strength in attack.

Aside captain Asamoah Gyan, who has as much held his own as the undisputed arrow man, there has been a regular reshuffle of the cards to find the perfect partner for the former Al Ain man. That the Shanghai SIPG striker is 29, makes the need for a trusted heir imperative.

Who is Asamoah Gyan's heir apparent?

That is where there has been the greatest battle, or perhaps, problem.

Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew, until the 2015 Cup of Nations, appeared to be the much-searched target man, but struggled to impress in Equatorial Guinea. He was outshone by Kwesi Appiah, a player whose injury misfortune has since ruled him out of contention.

Also in the mix are Sion’s Ebenezer Assifuah, top scorer at the 2013 Fifa U20 World Cup, David Accam, who has widely been deployed on the flanks, as well as the injured Abdul Majeed Waris.

Even so, one player that has continuously struggled to earn a serious consideration is Richmond Boakye-Yiadom.

There are signs that the powerful frontman is about to make the most of his undisputed talents.

But for Gyan, no other current Black Stars forward boasts a better scoring ratio than the new Roda JC acquisition. With four goals in nine international matches, the 22-year-old holds a scoring average above most-likely candidate Ayew, who has scored just four goals in his last 20 outings.

Boakye knows how to pick his moments too, beginning with an 80th-minute equaliser in a friendly stalemate with China on his senior debut in 2012. He again found the back of the net in a pre-Afcon 2013 warm-up fixture against Egypt, and was thus expected to announce his arrival at the tournament. However, an injury kept him away from making a single appearance at the continental showpiece.

Can Boakye begin to deliver on the promise of his youth?

Drafted in as replacement for the injured Ebenezer Assifuah for a double-header against Senegal and Mali in March, the attacker scored Ghana’s only goal as the Black Stars fell 2-1 to Mali in the second game.

Despite this effort, he was again ignored by Grant when the Israeli listed his squad for the June matches against Togo and Mauritius, but wasted no time in announcing his return when he scored Ghana’s second in a 3-2 win over Congo on Monday.

It’s clear that Boakye has not been fairly treated when it comes to the Black Stars. Even so, he keeps a calm head and continues to prove his worth when given the slightest opportunity.

In hindsight, it appears the 22-year-old’s snub has been due to his underwhelming form at club level, as Boakye boasts just 20 league starts since the summer of 2013. However, struggles at club level has not affected the likes of Mubarak Wakaso, Jonathan Mensah and Appiah, who have retained the faith of Grant despite struggles at domestic level.

His latest goal against Congo once again forces the Israeli coach to make a decision.

Can Grant be swayed that Boakye deserves a regular spot in the national team fold?

Grant would be wise to use the striker’s desire to prove a point and to throw him in against Rwanda; he would surely be assured of a player high in confidence who would give nothing but his all…Boakye, by now, must realise that opportunities don’t come along too often at international level.

As a lone striker or in a front two, Boakye’s strength and physical presence should come in handy against a very physical Amavubi.

With doubts over Gyan’s availability due to a knock picked up against Congo, and Ayew not in the best of form in the Premier League, this may be the ideal moment for Boakye to make a statement once again. 

First, however, Grant would have to trust him enough to pick him for a start.

Purely on international form, you would say he’s earned it.