Final Whistle: Untapped Potential Hazard, Dreams thwart Hearts, Rockets-OKC threaten the throne

Monday 22nd January , 2018 12:09 pm

Blue Blur

When in his stride and from the viewpoint of tower cameras you might mistake him for Cristiano Ronaldo, but a closer look at the subtle feint and quick change of direction that have been a part of the Eden Hazard DNA from the very beginning brings more clarity to those that have monitored his progress.

At age 27 he is entering the prime of his career, crazy as that sounds, the winger has tiny bits of his game that require refining if he will go from Premier League superstar to King of the Global game.

As far as becoming the best in the world goes, the purists of the game are almost at the point of giving up on that dream for Hazard, who himself seems pleased to function in his comfort zone as a player while showing a certain lack of interest in becoming the best that is worrying.

One would imagine that a player of such quality will thirst after the most coveted individual award in football but merely helping Chelsea steady a wobbling ship seems the threshold of the ambition, for now.

Considered a master of the game already by many, there is a high chance I will be perceived as delusional for my position on the man but again Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have succeeded in redefining the words elite and dominance with goals, assists and the ability to individually take over games.

Watching the man go about his business on the pitch you get the sense that playing the role of orchestrator supreme is his only worry while goalscoring is only an extra spice to sweeten the meal.

But this cannot be the way to go for a player who was way ahead of his peers before headlines of his masterpieces flooded the internet space.

To take his global presence and game to the next level, the flamboyant winger will have to show assertive leadership, the kind that might even rub a few people wrong along the way but that is what the all time greats are all about.

I can speak of stellar Hazard performance in the Premier League but he is yet to put out a display that had out of my mind on an European football night where the best converge.

He needs to take on responsibility especially in matches where opposing defenses are set and hard to break down. In this process he must exhibit some level of selfishness and the knack to drive the ship forward when inspiration is missing.

He must cut out the tiny intricacies in his game and look to be more direct when need be as well.

The extra hunger and mastering the art of strategic positioning will aid his goal scoring numbers immensely. He simply needs to want it enough as a person and a player.

Functioning at the peak of his powers he managed 16 goals for Chelsea in the 2016/2017 season to lead them to the league crown but his lack of cutting edge performances this term have left the Blues in the dust.

Not to be harsh on Chelsea because indeed Man City are having a season that threatens to defy history while Eden missed pre-season nursing a long term injury that ensured that he was eased slowly into the Chelsea set up instead of starting off with a bang.


It might have come against lowly Brighton and Hove Albion but he was King Midas on match week 24 when his contagious dominance led his team to an emphatic win.

The first 30 minutes of the encounter encapsulated what the man will look like when he breaks out of Hazardville.

With grace and balance he terrorized the Brighton defense as he persistently run the channels and placed himself in positions that made him a key goalscoring threat while leaving his team mates free to operate simply based on the attention he gets as a player.

When he is in the mood, he is as good as any other in the sport and on the planet and for that reason the persistent link to Spanish power house will not go away.

There are at least two more levels he will have to ascend as a player to be called a true legend of the game despite his current greatness.

The irony and for some the unavoidable truth remains that it might not happen in a blue shirt but in a white one.


Second Chances

Bouncing back from catastrophic situations is nothing new for the people at Dreams FC and that attribute was once again on display during the final of the GHALCA G8 Tournament.

They dominated their path back to Premier League status and summoned the same will to win to overcome Hearts of Oak 2-1 in the finals of the preseason tournament.

The win puts the spotlight back on them and welcomes them back into the Premier League with a certain fear factor about them.
You will often hear things like’ They are the most properly structured team in the Ghana Premier League’ among other positive accolades.

However in the business of football especially at the club level in Ghana the complexities and benefits that abound can lure one into a dark place.

The circumstances that surrounded their expulsion from the league is so murky and multi faceted that attempting to explain will take eternity.

What is noticeable is that they have taken strides to strengthen what was already deemed one of the most professional outfits of the Ghana Premier League which is a big plus because it provides a touch for the other clubs to also emulate.

West African Football Academy have provided a fresh breath of air for the league since their emergence but the Dreams have the potential to take it several notches higher.

The technical team appear to be on top of their job while extensive scouting has ensured they boast a number of unknown but talented individuals with veteran Eric Gawu leading the line.


Eric Gawu - Dreams FC

They have the markings of a team that can start a shift in the current mindset of how clubs in Ghana should operate and compete.

I look forward to what they have to offer in their second coming.


Wild Wild West

Perhaps the link up in Houston with James Harden has refocused the championship ambitions of Chris Paul and or perhaps the pain of adversity and what could have been is slowing forging a beast in Oklahoma fearsome enough to draw wide eyed stares from the rest of the NBA.

The two teams had similar characteristics that marked their victories against the Golden State Warriors and the Cavaliers respectively, stifling perimeter defense, fluid ball movement and a bravado that has been missing in the equation.

In the case of the Rocket’s they will be looking at Paul’s inclusion as the essential piece that eventually completes their puzzle.

Hr turned back the hands of time, and according to ESPN stats and info, the last time he recorded a 30+ 10+ assist game Steph Curry was back at Davidson and James Harden was playing with Arizona State.


That stat line seeks to paint vividly a player who has refused to slow down despite tucking on extra years. It’s safe to say he looks even better than before and complements this Champions contender finely with his savvy veteran leadership and stellar defense.

The opening night win over the Warriors had warning signs all over it despite some merely describing it as early shenanigans.

The regular season series has been won and now both teams will be sizing each other up as and monitoring each other’s progress because more than ever this is beginning to look like the ideal Western Conference final.

Unless the Oklahoma City Thunder have anything to say about it. The gelling process has been slow and tedious and has even looked like crumbing all together at certain points.But they have worked at it with all three Superstars in Westbrook,George and Anthony all knowing when to sacrifice personal stats and gain for the team win.

It still is a tricky balance getting Westbrook not to break his regular alpha stride while keeping the others involved heavily enough to fetch wins.



The Cavs might be in a slump but recording almost 150 points in regulation time against the back to back finalists adds to their resume of impressive wins which also includes Golden State.

I am almost tempted to call it basketball poetry especially as the Thunder have in the past been slated for the predictability of their offense.

Aside the superstar trio, Andre Robertson’s defense has proven to be a game changer and they will require it to make an impact in the post season.

For now it is safe to say that there will lethargic nights but OKC have enough to secure a post season berth.

When they do arrive at the business end of the season, they will be at par with whichever side they come up against and have enough x-factor material to keep things interesting.



By:Benjamin Nketsia/citifmonline.com/Ghana