Having watched him display some wonderful performances for Division side Nea Salamina against Kumasi Asante Kotoko in an FA cup tie last season, I tabbed him to be the next big thing to happen to Ghana football.
At Nea Salamina, he was deployed almost exclusively on the right, but prior to that, he alternated flanks and exposed Kotoko’s rearguard and even scored on the day.
With Ghana’s football landscape being fettered with vultures keen to make a quick buck form the country’s emerging talents, it wasn’t surprising to read a lot of potential suitors queuing to swoop for his signature after the season.
In fact, there were even hush talks of him joining Latvian outfit, FK Spartaks Jurmala but unfortunately, the deal couldn’t materialize hence his return to the country to join Accra Hearts of Oak.
Two things that attracted my eye when I watched him play in that FA cup tie was his dribbling skills and work rate and in addition to his goal-scoring prowess is an incredible vision to pick teammates with a pass. He scored 13 goals in the Division one league last term.
At 19, he had the opportunity to make his debut for Hearts of Oak last Sunday and surprisingly against Kumasi Asante Kotoko in Hearts’ 1-0 win over their rivals at the Baba Yara stadium; the club with whom he played against last season to gain prominence.
In the game, the work rate was always present but the dribbling was largely contained. There were some few moments of brilliance though as some twists and turns in the Kotoko penalty area bamboozled Kotoko’s Wahab Adams much to the delight of the Hearts fans.
When in possession, Obeng Junior has that tremendous gift of being able to travel with the ball whilst at the same time keeping it under his complete control and shielding it away from his opponent. The way he links play between midfield and attack is a joy to watch- easy on the eye!
He has everything: he’s good on the ball, he scores goals and he helps the team. His quick movements are crucial in ‘killing’ the opposition defenders. You just have to give him a metre of space and he’ll hurt you.
With his pace and the ability to go past defenders with effortless ease, he’s a hugely challenging proposition for any defender to handle in a 1v1 situation.
Indeed, being so adept in this regard has positive ramifications for his teammates too, for he regularly gets double or triple teamed, which importantly creates space for teammates to utilise.
His movement is another highlight of his, using this to surge in behind with superbly timed runs, find space infield or be instrumental in creating overloads.
Unfortunately, the youngster has struggled to replicate the form that saw him grabbing all the headlines in the Ghanaian second tier since he joined the Phobians.
A case could be made for Obeng Junior because it isn’t always easy to find young players thriving at big clubs at the first call especially when the club is in a tumultuous period as is the case of Hearts of Oak.
Also, several key players who would have helped him blossom have left the club to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Yet all these factors should not be made into excuses and this side’s players must remain a factor for positivity, not a reason to let these professionals off the hook if they underperform.
Of course, he hasn’t become a bad player overnight, and he needs better service from both the midfield and wingers in the side. The very best strikers always manage to find a way, and now Obeng Junior faces a tough test in front of him if he is to successfully do so.
For a club that has birthed great goalscorers like Peter Lamptey, Ishmael Addo, Benard Dong Bortey, Mahatma Otoo, Prince Tagoe just to mention but a few, there isn’t much to expect from Kojo Obeng Junior than to see him walk the path set by the aforementioned players