FIFA World Cup: The African striker still ahead of Ronaldo

"People disregard my achievements in the World Cup history, but I want the whole world to know that I have not been given the fair shake, but records will remain forever."

These were the words that Ghana striker, Asamoah Gyan, tweeted after some football commentators at the on-going World Cup in Russia mistakenly credited Cristiano Ronaldo with being the first player ever to score at eight successive major tournaments.

Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick in the 3-3 draw against Spain in their World Cup opener brought the number of successive tournaments in which he had scored to eight.

But he wasn't the first to hit this mark. When Gyan found the back of the net against Algeria at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, it meant he had scored in eight major successive competitions.

His first goal of this run came against the Czech Republic in the 2006 World Cup. In a re-enactment of all six of his World Cup goals for BBC Sport Africa, Gyan refers to this as his favourite World Cup moment: "I remember the goal came after one minute eight seconds. It was one of the fastest goals of the tournament. I have many great moments but that was my greatest moment."
Asamoah Gyan scores his first World Cup goal against the Czech Republic

As Russia 2018 got underway, Gyan's six World Cup goals not only made him Africa's greatest marksman in this competition, but also, in terms of scoring goals at World Cup finals, put him ahead of the two players who have jostled over the last eight years to be the best on the planet: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo's hat-trick against Spain brought him level with the Ghanaian in terms of World Cup goals and his powerful header against Morocco in the next game moved him ahead of Gyan on that count. Lionel Messi equalled Gyan's record after scoring in a 2-1 win against Nigeria in the group stage.

Gyan offers no doubt that individual goal scoring records matter to strikers, as he proudly shared his memories of each of his six World Cup finals goals with BBC Sport Africa, including the individual dance celebration that followed each one. He is just as keen to remind the world that the record of scoring at eight successive tournaments first belonged to him.

After his World Cup goals journey began at Germany in 2006, his record to score in consecutive tournaments continued when in 2008, he scored against Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations.

He matched this tally a few months later at that year's World Cup in South Africa. In 2010, he managed three goals. But he also missed a penalty against Uruguay that, if converted, would have seen Ghana become the first ever African team to reach a World Cup semi-final. That miss still haunts him, as he told BBC Sport Africa: "It's something that will stick with me till the end of my career because it was the moment the whole of Africa was waiting for and we couldn't make it to the semi-finals."

He scored another goal at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, this time against Mali. Another one was to follow a year later, when the Cup of Nations switched to being held in years ending with an odd number to ensure that the competition was no longer played in the same year as a World Cup.

In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Gyan found the net twice for the troubled Black Stars, whose tournament was overshadowed by off-pitch quibbles over unpaid allowances.

His goal against Algeria in 2015 has already been mentioned, as was the moment - a full three and a half years before Ronaldo's hat-trick against Spain - that gave the West African his record of goals in eight successive tournaments.

Ghanaians were quick up to pick up on the error by commentators, with many agreeing with Gyan that he deserves more credit than he is given.

Even in Africa, there are many who will name Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, both of Ivory Coast and the likes of Nigerians Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu or even Egypt's Mo Salah, before mentioning Gyan as a true African great. That's despite the fact that he is Africa's leading World Cup goal scorer with an impressive international scoring of 51 goals in 105 appearances for Ghana.

Several arguments have been raised to diminish Gyan's goal scoring achievements:

One is that the Africa Cup of Nations is held every two years, which makes it 'easier' for Gyan to reach this target, as - along with the World Cup - he has the opportunity to play in three tournaments every four years. Ronaldo's exploits come in the European Championships and the World Cup, which means he has the opportunity of playing an international tournament every two years.
Asamoah Gyan and Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2014 World Cup

The other argument is that the Nations Cup is not really a 'major' competition and does not have the prestige of the European Championship. This has been quickly rubbished by some analysts who say the competition continues to feature top African players plying their trade in many of the world's top leagues.

Overlooking not only Gyan's exploits but those of many other African players could be down to African football administrators not keeping records and not making them easily accessible to those who want them.

Cristiano Ronaldo might be one goal ahead of Gyan at World Cup finals now, but in terms of scoring in consecutive competitions he will have to ensure that he makes one more competition and also finds the net there, to draw level with the Ghanaian. Gyan has in fact scored at nine consecutive finals. It was against Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 that he achieved that feat.

So the flamboyant striker, who wears the number 3 shirt, can be proud of that record and might well be watching closely as Argentina face Nigeria in the Saint Petersburg Stadium. Perhaps he'll be hoping that Lionel Messi continues his troubled World Cup and fails to find the net.



Source: BBC Sport

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