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03.02.2015 Cup of Nations

AFCON 2015: Ghana and Everton dribbling wizard Christian Atsu silences his critics with excellent showing

AFCON 2015: Ghana and Everton dribbling wizard Christian Atsu silences his critics with excellent showing
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Christian Atsu's match-winning performance for Ghana over Guinea in their African Nations Cup quarter-final on Sunday will likely only add fuel to the fire for his detractors.

The speedy winger was superb as he bagged a brace, including a contender for goal of the tournament, to show just how devastating a player he can be.

But it has also left commentators wondering why he is only producing this type of performance now after a lacklustre last 12 months for club and country.

Like the Black Stars, the diminutive forward has got better as the Nations Cup rolls on, but must now keep performing at this high level or face the same accusations again that he can only turn it on in patches and for the rest provides mediocrity.

It is what separates the good players from the greats, the ability to perform at your best every week.

Atsu is on loan at English Premiership Everton from table-topping Chelsea this season, but has made just four appearances for the Merseyside club.

He did have an injury that stunted his progress, but has also sat out games after failing to impress.

Everton coach Roberto Martinez has been watching him closely at the Nations Cup finals though and is starting to see the player he knows Atsu can be, suggesting that when he returns from Equatorial Guinea he will have a much bigger role to play for the club in the second half of the season.

“It has always been the plan that Christian Atsu will be an important player for us in the second-half of the season and so it was great to see him doing so well,” Martinez told reporters.

“He is a player who will come back strong and ready to have a big role.”

Atsu was named man of the match in the 2-1 win over South Africa in Ghana's final Group C game, but failed to pick up the award in the semifinals.

He has emerged as a key weapon in the armoury of coach Avram Grant as the Black Stars seek a first continental title since 1982.

The 23-year-old Atuso was born in the Ghanaian coastal town of Ada Foah and was signed to the Feyenoord youth academy just outside Accra.

He moved to FC Porto in 2009, before making his senior debut in 2011.

After two years in Portugal, which included a loan spell with Rio Ave, Atsu enormous promise was spotted by Chelsea and he arrived in 2013, spending the next season on loan at Vitesse in Holland, before being sent to Everton in the 2014/15 campaign to further his football education.

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