AFCON

Atsu to make the difference

2015-02-04 09:49
Christian Atsu (Gallo Images)

Malabo - Ghana forward Christian Atsu can play a key role in the African Nations Cup semi-final against Equatorial Guinea especially if striker Asamoah Gyan misses out through injury, team mate Jonathan Mensah said on Tuesday.

"We all know what Atsu can do, it really helps to have difference makers," defender Mensah told reporters.

"He's got a special role in the team, he does what he wants to do and he's picking up from day one. We're just happy he's on fire now and he's going to help the team."

Atsu, 23, scored a stunning goal as Avram Grant's side secured a place in the last four with a 3-0 victory over Guinea in Malabo on Sunday but they must prepare to play the hosts without their talismanic captain Gyan.

Having recovered from a mild bout of malaria to score a late winner in Ghana's second match against Algeria, Gyan was injured by a late flying kick to the stomach from Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara.

With Gyan doubtful for Thursday's second semi-final, Mensah believes Atsu, who is on loan at Everton from Premier League rivals Chelsea, can overcome his inactivity at club level to thrive for the national side.

"The feeling is different when he's playing for Everton. We just let him do what he does best, it's a different team altogether," he said.

"This Ghana team doesn't have a particular goalscorer, we all score if given the opportunity, that's something that will really help us."

Having backed Atsu to continue his scintillating run of form, Mensah emphasised the role Gyan plays for the Black Stars.

"On and off the pitch Gyan is the leader, he's the captain of the team and whenever he's on the pitch he proves that he's a real leader," he said.

"He's one of the top strikers in Africa so whenever he's on the pitch it's like a plus two for the team.

"He's feeling some pain. He was really down, because he was just picking up form and then this injury came. We spoke and his morale is high, but at the same time he's not 100 percent.

"He's a great leader and even when he doesn't score, or even get the opportunity to score, he's constantly working for the team. He's the main man and we're happy to have him," he added.

Read more on:    ghana  |  afcon 2015  |  christian atsu  |  soccer
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