Ghana heads into the 2022 World Cup without their nation’s leading goal scorer for the first time, but Mohammed Kudus of Ajax can be the solution.
The Former Focal Point
In their previous three appearances, Asamoah “Baby Jet” Gyan led the team in goals every time. He is the first male soccer player to score in nine successive major tournaments. Cristiano Ronaldo has since tied the feat. CR7 has the chance to surpass Gyan’s feat in the upcoming tournament in Qatar.
The two-time Ghana Player of the Year dreamt of making a comeback during the summer but squashed the idea due to his lack of fitness. In his absence, Jordan Ayew filled the void. However, head coach Patrick Vieira uses Ayew as a winger at Crystal Palace due to his work rate and defensive intensity. It also speaks to his lack of efficiency in front of goal.
Felix Afena-Gyan is another option. Head coach Otto Addo asked Afena-Gyan to lead the attack against Nigeria in the Confederation of African Football’s World Cup playoff, but the youngster was unable to score.
Afterwards, Iñaki Williams switches his nationality from Spain to the land of his parents and ancestors. The Athletic Bilbao front man is now the main outlet in the final third. However, another player should be called for that role.
Mohammed Kudus can star for Ghana
Antony joining Manchester United gave way for Mohammed Kudus to break into Ajax’s starting eleven. Before the season, head coach Alfred Schreuder mentioned how he planned to use Kudus as an inverted right winger to utilize his left foot and a false 9 to take advantage of the Ghanaian’s creativity and playmaking in the middle of the field. Prior to this season, Kudus mostly played as a No. 10 and a central midfielder. Initally, Kudus was not keen on the positional change. He attempted to force a move due to receiving limited game time.
“Everton offered me a great opportunity and I wanted to try it. No footballer wants to sit on the bench, and neither do I. Although I understood that not everyone can play all the time, Everton seemed like a good option at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to train, but I’m human and had a lot to deal with in a very short time. The chapter is now over and I’m still here,” said Kudus to Dutch outlet NOS.
In the UEFA Champions League, Kudus displays his gifts for the soccer world to see. Starring mostly in the false 9 role, he leads his club with four goals, two assists and 1.8 dribbles per game. Some consider his style to be too selfish. The two-time Eredivisie winner perhaps holds the ball too long. This is just his style of play.
“With my skills, most of the time it’s taking risks in the game and trying to create stuff in the field of play,” Kudus told TV3 in Ghana. “So that’s how it seems, holding onto the ball, but [I’m] just trying to create stuff for the team to win.
He scores a sensational goal against Liverpool that impresses manager Jurgen Klopp and receives the Man of the Match award twice for his performances. Ajax unfortunately will head down to the UEFA Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group. They will face Union Berlin beginning in February.
A New Beginning
A front three of Williams on the left, Kudus down the middle and captain Andre Ayew on the right can be dangerous. Williams and Ayew have the tenacity and off the ball movement to be effective as inverted wingers. Kudus’ creativity and link-up play will be useful especially since the Black Stars’ midfield will not be expected to dominate possession against their opponents in the World Cup.
Ghana was dangerous with Gyan because their counterattacking system created chances when they lacked playmakers. Recently, Kudus has been partnered with Thomas Partey in midfield, however he is more effective finishing and creating attacks instead of focusing on the build-up play.
For Ghana to advance out of their difficult group, Addo must build his team around a prodigious talent like Mohammed Kudus.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sebastian Frej
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