By Sammie Frimpong
Adam Larsen Kwarasey, after a 16-month absence fraught with excuses and postponed hopes, is ready to take to the field for Ghana again.
It was just about this time last year that speculation was especially heavy over Kwarasey's return to the Black Stars' fold, ahead of Ghana's 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying date with Guinea, based on the assumption that coach Kwesi Appiah (for whom Kwarasey was never really a favourite) had himself been freshly axed from his post at the helm of the Black Stars and his temporary replacement, Maxwell Konadu, apparently willing to offer the olive branch.
Yet, for some reason(s), the long-awaited comeback never materialized. Days stretched into weeks and weeks into months, but, to the relief of all parties, Kwarasey is finally back. In the period between divorce and subsequent re-union of player and nation, however, both have been busy building themselves up and consequently seen their respective stocks soar.
When last Kwarasey was in the Ghana camp, the Stars were an embarrassing bunch that had thoroughly underperformed on football's grandest stage. Since those dark days, however, the team has roused itself from ignominy and gone on to a finalists' finish at this year's Afcon.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old moved from Norwegian giants Stromsgodset to the United States of America where he has steadily established himself as No.1 for Major League Soccer side Portland Timbers on the back of some solid displays.
Hence the timing couldn't have been more ideal, particularly from Kwarasey's perspective; same could be said of the occasion, an October 13 friendly versus Canada (a country that contributes three of the MLS' 20 competing clubs) in Washington DC, USA.
In truth, however, it's as though he never even left, for he returns just as he departed, namely, as Ghana's most high-profile goalkeeping option. Still, that doesn't mean Kwarasey would just waltz into a starting slot; the men who have thrived in his absence, first Fatau Dauda and now Razak Braimah (the former no more than a 'local champion' and the latter only starring in Spanish football's second-tier), are set to give him a run for his money.
That said, Kwarasey would be optimistic, possibly drawing inspiration from the adventures of Carl Ikeme, another foreign-born goalkeeper aiming to beat the odds and breakthrough for a top African side. Ikeme's debut earlier this month, in Nigeria's Afcon 2017 qualifier away to Tanzania, earned him many plaudits and has done some to have him marked as a potential rival to Super Eagles' regular Vincent Enyeama, and a similar performance by Kwarasey--if he does line up against the Canadians at the RFK Stadium--would do much for him to the same end.
Four years after his debut for Ghana, Kwarasey is ready to re-ignite his international career and, hopefully, should he get along well with his real or perceived 'enemies' (notably, Stars' goalkeepers' trainer Nasamu Yakubu, whose methods Kwarasey bitterly criticized after the nightmarish Brazil 2014 experience), the ride would be a smooth, happy one for all involved this time.