Afcon 2012 can make or break Kwarasey

It was against Brazil in London in a friendly when Kwarasey saved Ghana from a heavy defeat with top draw saves from Pato and Ronaldinho. By those saves, Adam Larsen Kwarasey warmed his way into the hearts of many Ghanaians.

In an era when being a goalkeeper is a far more hazardous occupation than it was then, Kwarasey stood out amongst the crowd when Ghana played the Selecao of Brazil at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham, in London last year.

His qualities on that night were manifold - he had sharp reflexes, excellent positional sense, great judgement from crosses and bags of courage. Ingredients the Black Stars will ultimately need to make end that 30-year lull of great mental suffering and anxiety.

But every player's maiden appearance at a major tournament is always special and stories concerning memorable debuts are legion within the sport. However, not every debut goes according to plan, especially if you're a goalkeeper.

Kwarasey is by all means going to be Ghana's number one in Gabon. But this is the competition that could make or break him.

He makes crucial, defining saves, and the plaudits will hang around his neck like an albatross. A single mistake which further stretches the 30-year wait, and he might have to make up with what is left of Richard Kingson now.

He must be able to showcase his skills to an even greater extent, bail out his defense time and time again, put his body on the line and make spectacular saves when the opposition looks odds-on to score. An exercise Kwarasey accepts in full faith in his desire to achieve the ultimate with Stars.

"Criticism is a part of football. You have ups and downs and I’m not guaranteed of success all the time so I would probably get some critics, but I should be able to handle that." he said.

Adam Kwarasey's colossal performance against Brazil and games after, has garnered the keeper praise throughout the world. Of particular interest is that from Eddie Ansah, who was between the sticks for Ghana when they lost 11-10 on penalties to Ivory Coast in the final of the 1992 Nations Cup hosted by Senegal.

“I see myself in Adam. He does everything like I did in my youthful days. He has great prospects,” Ansah said. Adam is young but very effective, efficient and has good anticipation."

So when Ghana plays against Botswana in that first group game, it will be the perfect platform for Kwarasey to prove he wouldn't hide under the challenge. That, even if it is his first tournament, he must prove why Stevanovic was right in dropping Richard Kingson.

Pressure and nerves are part of the job, but certainly during his short stint with the Stars, he has proved his worth.

Kwarasey's positional sense is quite ahead of its time and he has commanded his area like no other. In similar fashion that left Richard Kingson with world-wide plaudits after the 2006 World Cup, he is prepared to venture beyond his penalty box to clear up any potential threat from the opposition.

Crosses, punts, ruling your box, and reading the game are huge parts of goalkeeping. The latter situations have been performed brilliantly by the goalie. It is easy to say Kwarasey has earned his corn and done enough to be considered the first choice goalkeeper for the Black Stars.

His directions at this tourney must be concise. He controlling of his space must be top-notch. He needs to be in control of his space because if the ball gets past him, it’s in the back of the net and the opponent celebrates. The 30-year wait continues.

"The African Nations Cup? I am also looking forward to that. Hopefully we can make the people of Ghana very happy and win the cup, even if the Ivory Coast are big favourites."

Strikers are bent to make their marks at every African Cup of Nations. They're consumed with putting out flamboyant performances to be signed by bigger clubs and so they hit the ball with pace, with spin and with swerve.

And quite obviously, that is where Kwarasey might rise to the challenge. Maybe even earning himself that dream move the strikers also hold.

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