Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Ghana must rejoice with Essien

Michael Essien was named the Player of the Month for his club yesterday. For me, that is astonishing.

It was on national duty that the Bison hurt himself. It was something of a national pain to see him wince, hold his hand in his head and look devastated. Many would remember the words of Christopher Opoku who ran commentary on the game for Metro TV in Ghana.

"Essien is clutching his head and obviously shattered. I'm sure he's devastated for what his injury would cost Chelsea - and not Ghana!"

That drew wry smirks from many. But that may yet have been true. As a result of the injury Michael missed several crucial games for club (at a time their title challenge was real)and country (against Lesotho, South Africa, Tunisia and Egypt).

On my show on Atlantis radio in Accra, Dr Agbeko Ocloo, a respected sports doctor in Ghana said that Michael would likely be out for six months. The analysis everywhere was that it would be six months before Micheal returned.

Fast forward three months into the injury and we started getting vibes that he may be four months early. Miracle.

And guess what? It was attributed to his mother!

And then he made his return with a goal in the reserves, then a bang against Juventus in the Champions league.

Since then the former Liberty Professionals man has been making headlines. The pick of the pile may be this one against Barcelona last week.

And in looking in wonder at the speed of his recovery and subsequent role, I feel Ghana must be grateful to the guy and rejoice with him. To say he is peaking at the moment is understating the obvious.

Michael Essien may yet be the key that has been eluding coach Milo Rajevach for so long now. In the Black Stars games, that decisive ball that has been needed for the strikers to score has not been there. Period.

And with the form that Michael is in, this is the time for Rajevach to to be pushing him forward so that he can run and strike. Appiah is out of form, let us not delude ourselves. The Black Stars needs a spark. The spark is Essien. Some may make an argument for the burgeoning Kwadwo Asamoah but I say that in big matches, the Bison makes all the difference.

In recent Black Stars games, that decisive ball that has been needed for the strikers to score has not been there. Period.
The role he plays for country has long been said to be minimal but please give the man a break! He plays only now and then for Ghana as compared to the week-in, week-out stuff he does for the Blues.

Besides, it is where he earns his salary, no?

You know what they say about a nation that does not honour its heroes...

So let's do the right thing.