When Ibrahim Tanko invited Kwabena Owusu to be part of the Black Meteors team to play Togo in an AFCON U-23 qualifier, many asked Kwabena who?
In order to satisfy their curiosity, many football- loving Ghanaians had watch his YouTube montages to be convinced of his prowess.
It was a game that allowed the virtually unknown striker to endear himself to the Ghanaian football community with a hat- trick as the Black Meteors thrashed Togo 5-1 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
Of the three goals scored on the day, it was his first that jolted many who doubted him out of that belief. Receiving a pass from midfield, the Salamanca forward outpaced his markers and got to the ball first, with grace befitting a Ghanaian international footballer – and in a motion resembling a whiplash, he struck the ball back towards goal in a Coutinho-esque fashion, almost pirouetting in recoil- to put Ghana ahead.
On another day, the ball may have whistled past the post, but on that day, it whistled a different tune; and as the few fans gathered inside the stadium erupted in unanimous delight, the glitterati in the VIP box stood up in awe – some with hands on their heads accompanied by a sheepish smile, while others with a gaping jaw of bewilderment.
Kwabena Owusu had just announced his presence to the football faithful with a goal that was later described as “a goal that can be scored by world-class poachers.”
In four games for the Black Meteors, Owusu has scored four with the other against Gabon.
Many started calling for his inclusion into the senior national team, the Black Stars but that cry was always overlooked.
By a quirk of fate, Kwabena Owusu has been presented an opportunity to sell his trade to a larger audience and on a bigger platform as he made it into the Black Stars’ final team to represent the nation in Egypt later this month. He surely deserve place in the tam after a good season in the Spanish lower tier- scoring 10 in 25 appearances.
The Black Stars’ hopes of winning the coveted AFCON title in Egypt are balanced on a knife-edge. Pitted against defending champions Cameroon, Benin and debutants Guinea- Bissau, James Kwesi Appiah and his charges are tipped to make it out of the group without any difficulty. Should the Black Stars achieve the aim of winning the trophy that has eluded the West African country since 1982, then Kwabena Owusu would be Ghana’s key man.
At 21, he’s a young prospect who has graduated to become a senior professional. When in possession, Kwabena Owusu 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.
These are endearing qualities but to play at the top and especially at a major tournament like the AFCON, a certain attitude seems to be needed, as well as the necessary talent and commitment.
A selfishness; an exaggerated sense of your own importance and an ability to shut out all negative thoughts and doubts. It could be the tournament in which Owusu shines, and thanks to the perfect combination of his skillset and Appiah’s style of play, he could emerge as the best player in the side.
It’s difficult to tell from the Meteors’ games alone, but early signs in the Stars’ recent friendlies suggest that Kwabena Owusu will plough on towards another breath-taking moment in his Ghana career.
He will be fighting for place with experienced Asamoah Gyan, Jordan Ayew and Ghana’s new love Caleb Ekuban but should Kwesi Appiah be bold and give the young lad the opportunity, the Black Stars will be the team the other teams would love to avoid.
Those looking to stop them will require their star players to match the quality Kwabena Owusu will deliver for his side when called upon, and this is no easy task.