So after Hearts of Oak’s draw at Techiman Eleven Wonders last Sunday in the opening premier league game of the season a gentleman called Shamil approached me and the first thing he asked me was” Who was the player wearing the Hearts of Oak of number 10 shirt?. ……..I responded Winful Cobbinah is his name.
What followed from Shamil was a two- minute appreciation and a detailed commentary on the qualities of the “Livewire” of the Phobian club and what he can achieve if he works harder. He was overly impressed and moved by the quality the Hearts of Oak number 10 demonstrated in the game. The dribbles and the through passes.
For your information Shamil was a talented footballer from Techiman who played for Techiman Union Rovers in the Division One but niggling knee injuries slowed down his progress. Anybody that saw him play would have thought in the next few years he was to reach a greater height but that didn’t happen. His background as a talented soccer player means he knows what it takes to spot a special talent. He had come to support and watch his former teammate and best friend Yusif Husein “Chipsa” one of the substitutes Mumuni Gamel introduced to change the game as Eleven Wonders successfully searched for the equalizer in the 56th minute to cancel Cobbinah’s 9th minute excellent penalty for Hearts of Oak.
It is true, Cobbinah is ultra talented. We have all seen it and admitted. Even rivals fans appreciate the quality of the 26-year old playmaker.
It is obvious that he is a special soccer player blessed with incredible dribbling technique but if the Hearts of Oak magician wants to be mentioned in the same bracket as the likes of Charles Taylor, Bernard Don Bortey, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour “General”, Thomas Abbey and even Latif Blessing then he must start limiting the entertainment aspect of his game and start destroying teams on his own. He needs to be a destroyer not an entertainer. The good thing is he has started well scoring his side’s goal in Techiman from the spot but with more directness he could have well scored more than a goal.
Cobbinah’s game is dominated by too many dribbles and watching him from last season I have the feeling that even if two people are marking him on a Tennis Table and you give Cobbinah the ball he will try to dribble them on the table.
He likes the dribbles. It is part of his make-up as a player but if he is to carry Hearts of Oak like Thomas Abbey did last season then he must increase his firepower to be more direct at goal. So far as he remains at Hearts of Oak he is going to relied on the biggest especially when the club is coming from a season it scored 40 goals in 30 league matches with the main scorers – Abbey, Kizito no more there.
The examples Taylor, Don, Kuffour, Blessing, Abbey all had one thing in common playing in the country’stop flight and that was destroying opponents with load of goals and influence.
In 2002 both Taylor and Don Bortey – playing for one club Hearts of Oak – fought for the goal king award scoring goals from their wing positions on regular basis as if they were strikers but they weren’t. They were offensive midfielders – like Cobbinah – who knew that they needed to score bunch of goals, win games for their teams in order to create a significant mark. And don’t forget they were also among the best dribblers in the game during their peak but each scored 18 goals that season of 2002 making it 36 from two wingers. That was serious and wonderful.
They entertained but their most important marks that brought titles to Hearts of Oak and raised their ranking were not dribbling and entertainment – rather it was how often they won games for their team sometimes single handedly.
Let me bring to your attention that Thomas Abbey scored 13 league goals last season as a left winger and a left wing back. Latif Blessing didn’t play as a striker for Liberty Professionals – Benjamin Eshun was the main striker but Blessing finished as the 2016 GPL topscorer with 17 goals. and that raised his profile winning him a move to the U.S.A. When I saw Blessing play he was always direct. He takes the ball to you. He tries to get into the box to do the business of goalscoring as fast as he can. Clubs want goal-scorers today. If you have two midfielders of the same position, one dribbles well and the other gives you at least 10 goals per season. Who are you likely to buy?
In terms of technique Cobbinah is far ahead of somebody like Latif Blessing but the “Livewire” will envy the goalscoring firepower of the former Liberty man has got and he has shown that rich scoring form even in the Major League Soccer. Cobbinah is not a number 6. He is a number 10 and in his position he must be scoring more than the 4 goals he scored in over 15 league appearances last term.
Again in terms of pure talent Cobbinah is right there up with the likes of Don Bortey, Charles Taylor some of the finest players to have graced the Ghana premier league, the quality of his passing is even better than that of Don and Taylor but where Cobbinah falls short are in the areas of influence in the game and reliance. If Hearts of Oak were losing 1-0 or drawing 1-1 at 85th minute you could always rely on Don or Taylor or Kuffour to score anytime and they did this almost all the time. It is the reason why they are still revered in the history of the club.
At the moment Cobbinah is the face of the current Hearts of Oak company. He is the biggest star attraction and must work to improve on how to become a decisive man this season. He must do that to carry his team forward and to increase his ranking as one of the greatest to have played the professional league in the country.
Follow Gariba Raubil on twitter @GRAUBIL