The former Udinese man has fired shots at an ‘imagined’ rival, and it could be the start of something ugly if not well-managed
By: Sammie Frimpong
It was somewhat unexpected, you know, like that Muhammad Ali jab you never saw coming. But it did come — and it hurt bad.
“I was named as the captain of Black Stars when it reached my turn, so people should wait until my reign is over,” Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan declared in a recent interview with Accra-based Happy FM, right after announcing a slight tweak in his ain’t-taking-no-penalties-no-more-mummy pledge.
“If God doesn’t make you a king and you crown yourself king,” he added “your reign will be fruitless.”
So, yes, that hurt, but the big question lingers: just who was that jibe aimed at?
Well, Gyan wisely stopped just short of naming his target, but it’s obvious he had some guy in mind — and that guy, as many would opine, is Gyan’s deputy, Andre Ayew.
For sometime now, Ayew has enjoyed the feel of the armband against his bicep more often than Gyan has, courtesy the latter’s injury woes. And even when the Shanghai SIPG man fled the battle-ground in the 2015 Nations Cup final ahead of an imminent shootout, it was brave Ayew who marshalled and led the troops in that ultimately futile quest.
With Gyan not so much of an ever-present, ever-necessary in the national team set-up anymore as he climbs the age ladder and heads the other way in the health ratings, the younger and fitter Ayew’s influence has grown more, to the point that many believe the role should be his already.
The 26-year-old has also commented on the matter this week when speaking to Starr FM, though choosing to tread with more diplomacy, emphasizing: “I’m not in a hurry to become Black Stars captain. . . “[Gyan] is grooming me to take over the Black Stars captaincy in future so until he retires [I’m still his deputy].”
That, of course, does little to defuse the tense, silent war dividing opinion among fans and in the media, with one half favouring one man and the other, well, the other.
Fun though the subject might be for debate, the last thing the current Black Stars squad — aiming for that elusive fifth Afcon crown, an appearance at one more Fifa World Cup while we’re still good at it, and rekindled affection from the public — need is to fight over a piece of fabric and the limited authority it represents in the manner that occurred among some of their predecessors. It’s a scenario Ayew — whose father, Abedi, was in the eye of similar storms in the nineties — would wish to steer clear of, while Gyan should also do well not to mar his fine record as a Ghana international with the taint of a messy power struggle in his twilight.
However, if Gyan has thrown down the gauntlet as his remarks suggest, he might as well add the armband, and trust Ayew to gladly pick the latter over the former in that case.