It’s hard not to feel sorry for Felix Annan, eh?
For some seasons now, the young man has been unarguably the best goalkeeper on the domestic scene, turning out superbly for Asante Kotoko, Ghana’s biggest club, game after game. Annan is almost the archetypal modern goalkeeper: brilliant at one-on-ones, possessing razor-sharp reflexes, and excellent in distribution.
It is why, even at a club like Kotoko where little is ever stable, Annan has been largely immovable ever since returning from a loan deal at the West African Football Academy in 2016. Currently, his is Kotoko’s slot in goal — consistently among the first names on the team sheet despite the club’s many technical reshuffles, in fact — and also the captaincy.
For Annan, only one thing remains with which to truly consolidate his claim as No.1 in the land, namely, a regular playing berth for one of Ghana’s senior national teams. As things stand, though, neither set-up of Black Stars — A or B — is holding out that prospect.
To his credit, Annan has been a part of the main Stars team’s three-man set of goalkeepers with near constancy since Kwesi Appiah resumed charge as head coach two years ago, along with South Africa-based Richard Ofori and whoever it is the technical team invites to complete the number. It’s more than most domestic goalkeepers can say for themselves, but for a man so deserving of the top job itself, Annan has reason to feel a little dissatisfied with his brief as back-up to Ofori, himself quite outstanding at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Then there is the local Black Stars’ starting spot, which Annan should deem more attainable. Yet at the last two editions of the WAFU Cup of Nations, the latest of which ended on Sunday, Annan has had to watch from the bench as Joseph Addo (2017) and Eric Ofori-Antwi (2019) helped Maxwell Konadu’s teams all the way to the final.
Addo was instrumental in Ghana winning the trophy on that occasion, and while Ofori-Antwi – who Annan squeezed out of a place at Kotoko not too long ago — didn’t quite prove the hero in the shootout loss to Senegal that cost Ghana a successful defence of the title over the weekend, the Medeama goalkeeper certainly covered himself in glory and strengthened his grip when called upon in similar circumstances during an earlier game in the competition against Burkina Faso.
Of course, Annan is still just 24, but that figure changes only next month, and while goalkeepers tend to age like fine wine, one who has entered his prime so early might not have that luxury. Time — even with Ofori and Ofori-Antwi also young and just as brilliant — is on his side, but it might not be for much longer.
NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH