FREEKICK: WOULD MARIO BALOTELLI HAVE BEEN A SUCCESS WITH GHANA?

With his Italy career frozen, some may feel Balotelli could have enjoyed a nicer ride in a Ghana shirt. But would he really have?

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Earlier this month, Mario Barwuah Balotelli’s biological dad, Thomas Barwuah, revealed his son’s decision to choose Italy over Ghana while still a teen is one that’s already being regretted.

“Balotelli has started realising he made a big mistake playing for the Italian national team and has told friends about it,” the senior Barwuah told GazzettaGhana.

“He is not being treated well [and] truly, they don’t show him the love he deserves for his great talent and skills. I think that all he gets is abuse, especially from the media here [in Italy] and that is because he is black.”

Well, we at KickerGH took a little peek into the future that never was and came up with two contrasting views.

JOSHUA ANSAH — ‘Balo was always destined to fail!’

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Mario Balotelli

The grass, as the cliché goes, may not always be greener on the other side, and that is why I believe Balotelli’s refusal to pitch camp with Ghana probably was for the better.

To begin with, it’s worth noting that not all players who’ve made nationality switches to play for Ghana have enjoyed the experience. One would, in fact, struggle to find any example that has. Kevin-Prince Boateng is probably the best you could cite, but aside appearances at two Fifa World Cups, the midfielder has been practically non-existent for the Black Stars and, having made less than 20 appearances for the team, his international career is hardly the standard definition of success.

The likes of Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Emmanuel Frimpong were also hailed for a while after their own switches but didn’t take long to fade out. Previous experiences therefore seem to suggest that things may not have necessarily gone well for Balotelli; add to that the temperamental striker’s notoriously troublesome persona and the prospect appears even gloomier. One need only look at the issues that have arisen in the Stars’ camp in recent times with respect to players who seemingly refuse to conform to norms and how said situations have been handled to get a clearer picture.

It’s not too difficult, really, predicting Balotelli getting himself into one feud too many with the powers-that-be and consequently refusing to play for the Stars anymore. While most Ghanaians may somewhat justifiably remain wistful over what could have been with Balotelli as a Black Star, the young man perhaps did himself — and us all — much good by restricting all those fanciful possibilities to our imaginations because, quite likely, that reality would have left a pretty bitter aftertaste in the mouth than would the regrets of not having him around.

SAMMIE FRIMPONG — ‘Oh, what a joy it would have been!’

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Back in 2007 when Balotelli received his first Ghana call-up, the Black Stars were in a phase during which their best attacking contributions often came from midfield, provided by the likes of Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari. There was, at the time, very little offered by the purely offensive characters. Asamoah Gyan was still a caterpillar struggling to moult, and a string of other strikers who ought to have squeezed the best out of him or stand out as rivals were unable to nail the role for themselves.

Claude Le Roy, then Ghana’s head coach, looked around for alternatives and there young Balotelli gleamed. Here was a lad blessed with immense talent and a great start to his career, emitted confidence and brilliance in equal measure with the world doubtlessly at his feet.

Still, Balotelli turned Ghana down and opted to feature for the Azzurri when he became eligible; wrong move, as the rest of the story has proven, for very likely, Balotelli would have been a surefire hit in the Ghana shirt. The Stars set-up of that era thrived, perhaps more than anything else, on strength and power, with lots of those oozing from its beastly midfield, and that style would surely have catered to Balotelli’s needs.

And so would the healthy dose of creativity which decorated that glorious bunch have, but Balotelli — and Ghanaians — were robbed of such a potentially delicious match. Balotelli, youthful as he still is, would have slotted nicely into the Ghana sides which succeeded the era he was originally invited to join.

He’d not have been mere competition for Gyan but a good partner as well and — now that Gyan’s getting all weak and frail — certainly a reliable replacement, too. Alas, he’s only left wasting away for Italy, no doubt ruing a decision we regret just as much.

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