Ekuban feels the ache in Ghana penalty misses

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
Anguish: Caleb Ekuban missed his penalty kick against Tunisia
Ghana's Caleb Ekuban (right) and Tunisia's Ellyes Skhiri battle for the ball in the Round of 16 clash

In only his fifth match and debut appearance for Ghana at a major tournament, striker Caleb Ekuban has already felt the pain of missing a crucial penalty kick to save the Black Stars' dream.

On Monday evening, the striker became the latest player to miss a penalty kick as he fluffed his kick which eventually cost the Black Stars 4-5 in the Round of 16 tie at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) taking place in Egypt.

His weak penalty was saved by the Tunisian goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha to hand the Carthage Eagles their first victory over the Stars in an AFCON tournament in six meetings and send them to the quarter-finals stage.

The Black Stars seem jinxed to win any decisive match on penalties as it has been evidenced in the ache the team and their supporters have endured for penalty misses dating back as far as in 1992.

Caleb Ekuban could not hide his disappointment after missing his penalty kick 

From Anthony Baffoe (1992 AFCON), through to Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah (2010 World Cup), Afriyie Acquah and Razak Brimah (2015 AFCON), the Stars have gone through the pain of losing decisive matches as a result of their penalty kick misses and the young striker has added up to the list.

After going down 0-1, the Stars' hope was revived when Rami Bedoui, in a bid to clear a ball and prevent Asamoah Gyan from getting his head to it, rather nodded the ball into his own net to end the game pushed into extra time at 1-1.

During the penalty kicks, Ghana's ill-luck resurfaced again, this time, the young striker being the culprit.

Like other players in the past, Ekuban was disappointed and almost in tears as he buried his face in his shirt to cover up his tears.

However, unlike in the past where players who missed such important kicks were villified, Ghanaians seem to have shown some sympathy towards the striker. Rather, many fans have shown empathy towards the player.

On Tuesday morning, Ekuban took to Twitter to apologise for his miss. 'I'm really sorry,' he twitted and fans who follow him on that social media, encouraged him, asking him to be of get over the bad feeling.

"It is disappointing but you are not the first to go through this. Even the great Cristiano Ronaldo do miss penalties too," another fan also wrote in response.

"Too bad, but it's already happened. Don't be too hard on yourself. Get over it and pray for more opportunities with the team in future," another said.

The Leeds striker who last season played as a loanee at Turkey's Trabzonspor, made his debut for the Stars last March in the team's final AFCON qualifier against Kenya at the Accra Sports Stadium.

He came on as a substitute to score the only goal in the Stars' 1-0 win. Days later, he had his second goal, in a friendly against Mauritania, impressing Coach Kwasi Appiah to hand him a role for the 2019 AFCON.

However, at the tournament in Egypt, he was mainly kept on the bench and only came on as substitute in the matches against Cameroun and Tunisia, but was unable to put Ghana through.

Below a list of some of the players who missed crucial spot kicks for Ghana at international tournaments:

 

After a brilliant display for Ghana, Afriyie Acquah missed his penalty kick against Cote d'Ivoire

AFCON 2015 final: 

After a goalless drawn game in regulation and extra time, the final between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire was pushed to penaltykicks, a replay of their first final clash at the 1992 tournament.

Two Ivorian players missed their kicks, and the chance for Ghana to take the lead was also wasted as Afriyie Acquah and Frank Acheampong missed their kicks. Goalkeeper Razak Brimah also missed the final kick to end the game at 9-8 for the Ivorians in another marathon shoot out.

Asamoah Gyan missed the initial penalty awarded against Uruguay

John Mensah also missed his kick in the shoot out against Uruguay

2010 World Cup:

Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty that would have sent Ghana into the semi-finals.

Playing Uruguay in the quarter-finals and with the scoreline at 1-1, Ghana were awarded a penalty when Luis Suarez blocked a Dominic Adiyiah-bound goal with his hands on the goalkeeper's line.

Gyan stepped up to take the resultant kick, but he watched in anguish as his kick grazed the crossbar.
The striker made amends and converted his kick during the shoot outs, but John Mensah and Adiyiah missed their shots.

Ghana went on to lose 4-2 in the shootout and the Black Stars exited the tournament, denied the chance to be the first African side to reach the semi-finals at the World Cup.

Tony Baffoe missed Ghana's 11th penalty in the 1992 AFCON final against Cote d'Ivoire 

AFCON 1992:

Anthony Baffoe and Isaac Asare missed their kicks in the marathon penalty shoot out in the final game to hand the Cote d'Ivoire their first AFCON title with a 11-10 scoreline.

The game ended goalless and thus pushed into the decisive penalty kicks. Asare missed the fourth kick for Ghana and Joel Tiehi missed the fifth for the Ivorians. From then all the other players converted their kicks.

Tony Baffoe, who captained the team in that final game, however, missed the final kick.