With most well-grooved goalscorers there is a secret to their success. Observing, studying and even copying fellow members of the goalscoring union is one thing, but when it comes to slotting the ball into the back of the net most penalty-box assassins develop their own unique style, drawing on any spur or motivation to help them get the job done. And for Ghanaian goal machine Ransford Osei, there is no better motivation than a good night's sleep.
"Whenever I miss chances I can't sleep at night," Osei, a firm candidate to pocket the adidas Golden Shoe at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007, tells FIFA.com. "I go through them over and over again in my mind, replaying them until I find the exact movement I should have made out on the pitch. When I'm sure I've learned my lesson I relax a little bit, but even then I know I'm not going to sleep that well."
Born in the Ghanaian capital of Accra on 5 December 1990, Osei arrived in Korea intent on finishing the competition as top scorer. And with five goals in as many games, it is a case of so far, so good for the free-scoring forward. His tournament haul includes a brace against Trinidad and Tobago and further goals against Germany and Colombia in the group phase prior to a quarter-final strike against Peru. The only side not to feature on Osei's growing list of victims were Brazil in the Round of 16, a match that was inevitably followed by a night of tossing and turning. "Yes, it's true. I didn't sleep that night either. But at least I'd scored against them in the Eight Nations tournament we played here a few months ago," he smiles.
Osei, who also has a couple of assists to his name in the Far East, currently lies second in the scoring charts behind Nigeria's six-goal sharpshooter Macauley Chrisantus but one ahead of Spain's Bojan and Richard Sukuta-Pasu of Germany. "Every time Chrisantus scores I have to work that bit harder to overtake him," says the Black Starlets' No10, clearly determined to add to his tally.
Looking, listening and learning
While Osei's obsession with his sleeping patterns certainly plays its part, he would not be where he is now without dedication and hard work. "I used to be a bit scared when I was front of goal but my coach Sellas Tetteh helped me overcome that. I also learnt how to position myself and to know exactly where defenders and the goal were before receiving the ball. So when I get the ball now, I know exactly what I'm going to do and that gives me an advantage over them," explains the opportunistic striker, currently with Ghanaian club side Kessben FC.
And when it comes to designing the perfect striker, he has one particular model in mind. "I'd love to have Patrick Kluivert's heading ability, the speed and ball control of Samuel Eto'o and the finishing skills of Thierry Henry. I've got a few videos of him that I watch very closely."
Eyes on the prize
With a semi-final date against Spain just hours away, Osei is confident he and his team-mates can continue to handle the pressure of being among the tournament favourites. "It's not been easy by any means, but we are determined to reach the Final. We've been concentrating hard but trying to stay relaxed and that has helped us cope with being one of the teams to beat. We haven't let the reputations of our opponents get to us either. We showed that against Brazil by beating them with just ten men."
Keen not to underestimate Spain, Osei does not want to give them too much respect either. "They are a very fine side, but we are not scared of them," he assures. "We'll be trying to stop them playing their game by pressing and frustrating them. They've got some dangerous players like the No 9 [Bojan], but I've got confidence in our defence. They won't give him as much space as he's had up to now."
In fact, so confident is Osei of success that he is predicting an all-African title fight. "The Final will be against Nigeria. They beat us in the African qualifying tournament and we want our revenge right here."
And with that self-same determination in his voice, Ghana's fox in the box rounds off in typically bullish style. "Last year, when I saw my country's players celebrating at Germany 2006, I said to myself that I wanted to be in their position. And today here I am in the semi-finals of a World Cup. I also promised myself I would not let the nation down. I know we can be champions here and take the trophy back home."