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Asamoah Gyan wants to go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

BY: bbc.com
Asamoah Gyan wants to go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Asamoah Gyan wants to go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Asamoah Gyan is bidding to make a shock return to the international fold as he eyes a spot in Ghana's squad for this year's World Cup in Qatar.

The unattached 36-year-old won the last of his 107 caps for the Black Stars in July 2019, and has not played a club game since an outing in April 2021 for Accra-based side Legon Cities.

But the former Udinese, Rennes and Sunderland forward says he is embarking on a fitness programme with the hope of appearing at what would be his fourth World Cup finals.

"Talent wise, everything is there already, so I just have to prepare physically," he told the BBC World Service.

"The World Cup is every footballer's dream. I think I've got a bit of energy left in me to prove myself once again.

"I've been out for almost two years now due to injuries but I just need to get my body back in shape. It's an eight-week programme and according to my physical instructor I'm improving faster than he thought.

"Then I must see how my body reacts to playing competitive football."

'I haven't spoken to anybody'

Gyan has scored 51 goals for Ghana, and six of those have come at the World Cup, where he featured in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Those feats make him both his country's all-time record goalscorer, and Africa's top goalscorer at the World Cup finals.

He turns 37 two days before Ghana's Group H opener against Portugal on 24 November, but says his age is no barrier to playing in Qatar, citing the example of another African great.

"I haven't announced my retirement," he said.

"Anything can happen, you know. It's happened before, talking about Cameroon in 1994, with Roger Milla coming back from retirement to play in a World Cup."

However, Gyan has not held conversations with Ghana coach Otto Addo or technical director Chris Hughton, who have been busy bolstering the squad's options with members of the diaspora such as Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams.

"Honestly I haven't spoken to anybody at all," Gyan said.

"It's part of the plan. I just want to make sure I see how my body reacts first. I just need to get to some level and then I can say I'm ready.

"Everything looks positive, so we'll see what happens. There might be a surprise."

Revenge against Uruguay after 2010 exit

Gyan has added motivation to return given Ghana have been drawn alongside Uruguay, who knocked the Black Stars out on penalties in the quarter-finals in 2010.

Gyan could have won that tie from the penalty spot after Luis Suarez was sent off for a goal-line handball deep in extra time, but his effort skimmed the top of the crossbar and went over.

The forward returned to score in the shootout but Uruguay won 4-2, denying Ghana the chance to become the first African side to reach a World Cup semi-final.

"The whole world knows what happened," Gyan said.

"When the draw was made and they saw Uruguay in Ghana's group [in Qatar] the only thing that came into mind was revenge. Ghanaians want revenge.

"Personally, I just sat back and smiled because I understand how the game goes. What happened in 2010 is behind me [but] maybe there might be another opportunity."

Ghana will not face Uruguay until their third and final Group H game, with Gyan's former international team-mate John Paintsil saying the side should instead focus their attentions on Portugal and second group opponents South Korea.

But Ghana FA president Kurt Okraku declared after the World Cup draw was made in April that "it will be revenge time", and revenge is also the operative word for Gyan.

"When the time comes, and I'm part of the team, and we play against Uruguay, you never know what's going to happen," Gyan said.

"Obviously, I'm human. I have that at back of my mind that maybe if I get another chance I can be able to prove myself.

"The most important game for Ghanaians right now is the game against Uruguay. Because this is at the back of everybody's mind, going for revenge."