Ghana's Asamoah Gyan put his squad into the quarterfinals at the Africa Cup of Nations with a beautiful goal against Niger. With Gyan playing well and ending his international goal drought, Ghana have to be viewed as favorites to the win the Cup.
Gyan has faced a ton of criticism leading into the tournament and through the first group games as his Ghana side hasn't lived up to expectations. He responded in a big way by scoring a goal and playing a part in the squad's other two goals in the 3-0 victory.
In the sixth minute, Gyan fired home from inside the box on a beautiful pass from the right wing to give Ghana a 1-0 lead. Then in the 23rd minute, Gyan made a beautiful run out left, got the ball and casually delivered a cross in the box for Christian Atsu. The 21-year-old chested the ball down and cooly finished to give Ghana a 2-0 lead.
Gyan wasn't done just then, as he flung a header at goal in the 49th minute. The goalie was barely able to knock the ball down and spilled the rebound in front of net. Ghana's John Boye tapped the ball into the net to give Ghana a 3-0 cushion.
Gyan could have made the damage much worse, but missed a couple of opportunities in front of net. All things considered, it was one of Gyan's best performances for his country in recent memory.
Ghana will need Gyan to continue to play at a high level throughout the tournament. If he plays like he did today or better, it will be tough for anybody to beat the Black Stars.
Pressure situations have gotten to Gyan, including his famous penalty miss during the 2010 World Cup. After his performance against Niger, Gyan looks set to prove those critics wrong as well and deliver strong performances deep into the tournament.
The pairing of Gyan and Atsu could perform much better than they have so far. The young Atsu has yet to break out like expected. If the two can find their form at the same time, they should connect for more goals like they did against Niger and make Ghana's attacking incredibly dangerous.
In the next round, Ghana will play Cape Verde, who are making their tournament debut. They will be heavy favorites to knock off the under-talented Blue Sharks. Ghana shouldn't have trouble getting past them and into the semifinals.
The biggest competitor to Ghana's run at the Cup will likely be the boys from Ivory Coast. Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho have them playing well, but their defense is beatable. Ghana has the attacking play and defense to get a couple goals.
Ghana will go as far as Gyan will take them. Based on today, Ghanaians have to like their chances at bringing home the nation's fifth trophy in the competition.