Tag: Christian Atsu


The Player everyone was talking about…It’s Kwesi Appiah!

The Newest Blackstar and his rapid rise to fame!

The disapointment of Ghana losing the AFCON final on penalties to Ivory Coast is still very fresh in everyone’s mind. However there were a lot of positives to take from the tournament, particularly the performances of individual players who significantly raised their game. There was one player in particular who’s name was on everyone’s lips. Picture a light skinned face being imprinted in your mind. You know someone is a star when their charisma and talent cannot be overlooked, who else this can be but the one and only Kwesi Appiah!

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Having  been named as a Man of the Match for his exceptional performance in Ghana’s 3-0 win over Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter final clash, it is not surprising why he has the whole of Africa rooting for him.

Kwesi Appiah played his full competitive debut and scored his first international goal to get Ghana through to the semi-finals. He fearlessly stroke a second goal just on the nick of half-time and played a part in the opening goal which was scored by Christian Atsu.

Born in Thamesmead, London, Appiah’s career is still growing from strength to strength. The 24-year-old British Ghanaian striker is currently on loan at Football League side Cambridge United.Kwesi Appiah is on a second loan stint from top tier side Crystal Palace and has scored six times in 18 appearances this season. Kwesi Appiah has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame. It was only 4 years ago he was a supporter at Wembley watching Ghana take on England and now he is playing for them in an international tournament!

His father has played a huge influence in his decision making relating to career choices and Kwesi Appiah has always had a soft spot for the Ghana Black stars. He states “My dad’s been the biggest influence in my career so it would have been silly not to take that side of things. I had a lot of Ghanaian culture in my life while I was growing up, and he’s been very supportive of me throughout so it’s my way of repaying him and my family. I’ve always been a Black Stars fan – you might even have seen pictures on Twitter of me at games supporting them – so to be here now is amazing.”

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Kwesi Appiah has been an asset to the Ghana Black Stars team and has fitted in brilliantly well with the whole squad particularly with his enthusiasm and his love for dancing. I am certain that the Ghana Black Stars have welcomed him with open arms and have given him a sense of belonging.

Here at Me Firi Ghana, we are proud of the rise of Kwesi Appiah and we would like to wish him every success with his football career. Greater things are coming his way and his hard work will surely establish him as a permanent fixture in the Ghanaian side  .

Check out the video below of Kwesi Appiah dancing for his teammates at the Africa Cup of Nations. It’s great to see the star being free, that’s what being a Ghanaian is all about.

Adwoa Asiedu (AdwoaAsiedu777)

AFCON 2015: Ghana so near yet so far…

Blackstars lose in the cruellest fashion but there is genuine cause for optimism..

Another tournament comes and goes, another dose of heartbreak for the Black Stars. As our famous uncle would say, in the final of AFCON 2015 our pain was ‘delivered fresh, from nature god’. Social media following the AFCON final was a mess – people from certain countries (no names mentioned) decided to emerge from their shadowed dwellings after the final whistle to rub salt into wounds. Many Ghanaians played another round of ‘Let’s Find Who We Can Burn At The Stake This Time – AFCON Edition’. Others blamed Mahama. While others simply logged off and went to bed.

hi-res-4a3c983840d5ab3d32c03c57bbf1cdcf_crop_northDespite an encouraging number of people who could reason, many were lost in the horde of the confused, the hurt, and the impulsive.

Which is fair enough. The manner in which Ghana threw away a two-penalty advantage, was reminiscent of beginning to dream of history being made only to watch Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick in 2010 soar past the goalkeeper, past the crossbar, and past the roof of the stadium. Categorically gutting. Ghana weren’t just close; the craftsman may as well have started crafting our name into the cup. We weren’t just within touching distance – we all practically started planning what posts we would upload, what kente we would wear into work the next day, how amazing Ghana Independence this year would be.

But alas. It was not to be. Again.

So the impulsivity of the reaction, and the rawness of the pain is understandable. But as with many things, sometimes the morning after brings so much clarity to the events of the night before. And when it comes to reviewing Ghana, that is what is needed – clarity. And perspective.

It’s easy to be short-termist when it comes to football. Heroes rise and fall with unnerring speed – daily, weekly, monthly. The manner in which Ghana lost out in the final can cause many to fall into the trap of finding a new scapegoat, a new villain to verbally flog – all while losing sight of the bigger picture…
…which is the fact that Ghana arrived at Equatorial Guinea for AFCON 2015 still bruised from an underwhelming, disappointing and disjointed World Cup campaign, smeared with the tar which poured from allegations of corruption and reports of dissent and infighting amongst the ranks. Ghana entered this competition as the least-favoured to escape what had been anointed by most as the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’. Many poured scorn on Ghana’s chances following the draw of the group. Avram Grant himself dampened expectations going into the tournament, imploring everyone that this was a tournament about assessing the team, about development, about building towards a better future.

255F825900000578-2941812-Ghana_players_celebrate_in_front_of_coach_Avram_Grant_en_route_t-a-58_1423173831453We kicked off the first game expecting nothing…

And yet not only did we escape the Group of Death, we came out standing tall and proud in first place.
We battled past Guinea 3-0 in the quater-finals.
We eviscerated the hosts of the competition in front of a bipartisan (and as we eventually saw, bitter and disgraceful) crowd, without captain Gyan on the pitch.

We finished the tournament finalists.

We fell to the 11th spot-kick taken by Ivory Coast. For 120 minutes, and until Razak missed his penalty, we stood toe-to-toe with an Ivory Coast team who are renowned and revered as the most experienced and accomplished football team amongst the African nations, captained by Yaya Toure who is such an awesome tour-de-force of a footballer he has won African Player of the Year for the last 4 consecutive years.

Christian Atsu solidified his burgeoning reputation on the world scene by emerging from AFCON 2015 as the official Player of the Tournament. And who could fail to be moved by the visceral outpouring of passion and desire by Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, as he screamed fierce encouragement to his troops during the shoot-out before being overcome by the pain of defeat at the final whistle.

Sure, it doesn’t take away from the pain. It doesn’t do much to depreciate the idea that we are becoming the Bridesmaid of African football, so favoured, so pretty and alluring, and yet always falling short of finally becoming the Bride. We have had our fair share of misfortune and hurt in recent years, as anyone who bore witness to the Suarez 2010 quarter-final can attest to. This final was another dose of exquisitely-devastating heartbreak, as we failed once again to emerge victorious from the Russian Roulette that is the penalty shoot-out.

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But Ghana came out of this AFCON tournament proud. Even prouder and in better shape than the last time we were finalists in 2010. We’ve got our spark back. Throughout the tournament, and especially with regards to our conduct during the disgusting antics of Equatorial Guinea, Ghana redeemed itself in the eyes of the world. Our reputation has been mended. Defensively, we look sounder. In Razak, (penalty kick aside, and not falling foul to short-termism in only focusing on the kick) we have an assured goalkeeper who looks as good as any on the continent. Atsu’s star will continue to soar. Dede Ayew is an awesome captain-in-waiting, developing into a man who can emulate the exploits of his legendary father.

The team looks stronger. The team will get better. AFCON 2015 saw Avram Grant and the Black Stars push the reset button. Our time as the Bride will come soon enough. The future is bright.

Jermaine Bamfo (@DrJabz_27)

AFCON 2015 Qualifier: Ghana 3 – 2 Togo

Late Atsu goal gives Black Stars vital win over Togo

 

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Ghana recorded their first win after a poor showing at the 2014 World Cup to restore their hopes of qualifying from Group E for AFCON 2015 after heroics from Christian Atsu.

The winger, on loan at Everton from Premier League rivals Chelsea, hit home the winner five minutes from time to give Kwesi Appiah’s men victory in the Group E qualifying match in Lome.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda last Saturday, Ghana appeared set for further disappointment when Floyd Ayite put the hosts ahead after 12 minutes.

First-half goals from Asamoah Gyan and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu quickly turned things around for Ghana, only for Emmanuel Adebayor to seemingly rescue a point for Togo 13 minutes from time.

But the hosts were left heartbroken as Atsu settled the game in Ghana’s favour, boosting their hopes of qualifying for a competition they have won on four occasions.

Togo will have been keen to get back to winning ways after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Guinea in their opening match last Friday.

And Tchakala Tchanile’s men promptly made a superb start as Ayite capitalised on a defensive mistake from the visitors to find the net at the second time of asking after seeing his initial effort blocked by goalkeeper Stephen Adams.

Yet Togo’s lead lasted just 12 minutes, striker Gyan levelling matters with a towering header into the bottom corner, before midfielder Agyemang-Badu completed the turnaround in the 34th minute.

The Udinese man was left unmarked by the Togo defence and made no mistake as he nodded home Abdul Rahman’s low cross at the near post.

Ghana held out for much of the second half with little difficulty, however, Adebayor set the stage for a frantic finale when he netted with a towering header.

But it was Atsu who had the final say, the 22-year-old using his pace to break free from the defence, confidently slotting home to seal all three vital points for Ghana.

 Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

 

Ghana Black Stars in departure lounge for Brazil 2014…

Ghana hammer six past Egypt in Kumasi to all but guarantee their place at next years World Cup

 

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Two goals from Asamoah Gyan helped the black stars to a historic 6-1 victory over Egypt in Kumasi to have fans all but booking their tickets for Brazil. The drubbing was the first time Egypt had conceded six goals in a match in thirty to years. It was a game that Ghana needed to get a positive result to set them up for the second leg but even the most optimistic Ghanaian could not have predicted such a thrashing.

There had been tension during the build-up to the game because Ghana had written to Fifa asking for the 16 November second leg to be switched from the Egyptian capital Cairo because of safety fears. Thus Ghana wanted to get off to a good start and boy did they.Gyan had a clear chance to put the hosts ahead inside 20 seconds but he hit his shot straight at Egypt goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy from 12 yards out.

However Black Stars skipper had only a few minutes to dwell on his miss as Abdul Waris touched on Michael Essien’s pass and the former Sunderland striker turned with pace and struck a smart low shot into the far left bottom corner. A second goal looked inevitable and it came after Essien left two defenders on the floor during a mazy run and, just as the Chelsea man appeared to have tried too much, the ball ricocheted off Gomaa into the Egyptian skipper’s own net. At this point the Egyptians looked stunned and needed something and it did when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Mohammed Slaeh by  Rashid Sumaila.  The experienced Aboutrika took the penalty and sent Ghanaian keeper Fatawu Dauda the wrong way to make it 2-1. However Waris restored Ghana’s two-goal advantage on 44 minutes, heading in Muntari’s
cross.

Eight minutes after the interval, things got even worse for Egypt when they failed to clear a corner and Muntari’s bicycle kick attempt bounced up nicely for Gyan to nod in Ghana’s fourth goal. Shortly after the speedy Waris burst through on goal and was upended in the penalty area by
keeper Ahmed Elshenawi, who had come on for the injured Ekramy. Sulley Muntari made no mistake from the resultant spot-kick. Egypt’s misery was complete when substitute Christian Atsu drove in a fizzing shot from the edge of the box to send the Kumasi crowd into more celebrations.

Make no mistake this was a momentous result against a good experienced side who were the only team on the continent to remain unbeaten in qualifying. The result will go some way in silencing coach Kwesi Appiah’s critics who believe he is not up to the job.

If or should I say when Ghana make it to Brazil they will be only the fourth African side to qualify for three consecutive World Cup finals.

In the Black Stars we trust

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

CAN 2013: The Blackstar team

Appiah names his Blackstars for CAN 2013

 

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Ghanaian national team coach, Kwesi Appiah has named a 26 man squad for the 2013 African nations next month in South Africa amid huge media scrutiny in Ghana. Whilst the majority of the squad inclusions were not a surprise, notable omissions came in the shape of former Captain John Mensah and striker Jordan Ayew.

Both Mensah and Ayew were in the CAN 2012 squad that bowed out at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Zambia. Their omissions ultimately come as a surprise as Ayew has been in decent form for his club Marseille whilst Mensah’s vast experience alone would be beneficial to the squad, especially the younger players.

Unsurprisingly there is no place for Michael Essien, who asked to be left out in order to focus on his club career. One player who was secured his place is Christian Atsu who has been in scintillating form for club (FC Porto) and country and Appiah and the rest of Ghana will be hoping this continues come January.

Appiah believes he has picked a squad good enough to win in South Africa next month, and he will trim the squad down to 23 players after a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, where Ghana will play friendlies against Tunisia and Egypt.

The full 26 man squad is as follows;

Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset, Norway), Fatau Dauda (AshantiGold), Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals)

Defenders: John Paintsil (Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Israel), Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea), Wakasu Mubarak (Espanyol, Spain), John Boye (Rennes, France), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Isaac Vorsah (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor, Turkey), Rashid Sumaila (Asante Kotoko), Awal Mohammed (Maritzburg United, South Africa).

Midfielders: Andre Ayew (Marseille, France), Christian Atsu (FC Porto, Portgal), Anthony Annan (Osasuna, Spain), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine), Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus, Italy), Albert Adomah (Bristol City, England), Rabiu Mohammed (Evian, France), Solomon Asante (Berekum Chelsea).

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE), Emmanuel Clottey (Esperance, Tunisia), Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo, Italy), Yahaya Mohammed (Amidaus Professionals).

Do you think Appiah was right to leave out Jordan Ayew and John Mensah? And can this squad deliver Ghana’s first nations cup title since 1982? We’ve waited long enough!

Leave your comments below.

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)

Here we go again!

 Ghana qualify for yet another CAN finals

Ghana booked themselves a place at CAN 2013 with a workmanlike performance against Malawi in Lilongwe.  With Ghana leading 2-0 from the first leg they were overwhelming favourites to go through but they were made to work for their win with the only goal of the game coming from Afriyie Acquah on his international debut.

Ghana started the game very well taking just three minutes to get into the lead after the Parma midfielder applied the finish to a well-worked short corner from Andre Ayew. Ghana went on to control the rest of the early stages of the first half, but had to rely on Adam Kwarasey’s reflexes to prevent being pegged back.

Both teams then went through a period where they threatened the goalkeepers with dangerous efforts. Asamoah Gyan was presented with a number of chances to double the lead first from a free kick which the goalkeeper did well to get to before he failed to connect with a well-placed Ayew cross as the Black Stars went into half time with a one goal lead. Christian Atsu also had an effort on the Malawi goal which was comfortably saved.

The second half almost started like the first with Ghana seemingly in control but Atsu could not get his effort on target after getting past a couple of players. It took some good positional awareness from defender Isaac Vorsah; however, to prevent the Flames from going in front as he diverted a goal bound header wide before John Boye made the clearance.

Malawi continued to rally but the Black Stars saw out the game to book a place in South Africa for the 2013 African Cup of Nations. Overall Ghana should be pleased in the manner of the qualification which has seen the emergence of two players (Christian Atsu & Afriye Acquah) tipped for great things. No doubt Ghana will be amongst the favourites for the competition in South Africa but will need to learn from mistakes of earlier this year, when again tipped for glory they crashed out at the semi-finals to eventual winner Zambia.  Here we go again!

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@KwesiTheAuthor)

Analysis of the Black Star’s football match

Ghana V Malawi: Christian Atsu shines as Ghana edge closer to CAN 2013 Finals

 

The Black Stars of Ghana moved closer to a place at CAN 2013 with a 2-0 win over Malawi in Accra in the final round first leg of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Asamoah Gyan captained the side in his first appearance since returning from a self-imposed break but it was Christian Atsu of FC Porto who stole the show with a fine performance.

He gave Ghana the perfect start, settling any nerves with the opener after just eight minutes to celebrate his first home match for Ghana. The Porto player tapped in from a close range shot from Olympique Marseille’s Andre Ayew. Although the Black Stars were in the lead with Atsu creating several chances, Malawi to their credit defended with vigilance to ensure that they went  into the half time interval with the same score line at one nil.

In the second half With Malawi sitting deep and seeking to soak up Ghana pressure, Ghana were made to work for their second, which fell the way of Anthony Annan only six minutes after the interval. Annan set the stadium alight with a 20-yard shot to make it 2-0 to the Black Stars.

Malawi’s cause was not helped when James Sangala was dismissed in the latter stages, and they now face a big ask if they are to reach the Cup of Nations finals for only the third time in their history.

Meanwhile look in a strong position to qualify for CAN 2013 and the performance of Atsu will come as a boost to coach Kwesi Appiah as he considers his midfield options. Atsu showed just why clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur were interested in signing him this summer.

The second leg will take place between 12-14 October 2012 in Malawi. In the Black Stars we trust!

Until next time…

Continuing the sports theme Me Firi Ghana presents a night of cultured debate when The Future of Sport Debate forum takes place on Friday 21 September 2012 at 6pm at the Chelsea Theatre, 7 World’s End Place, Kings Road, London, SW10 0DR. If you are Ghanaian, have a love for Ghana and are you passionate about the Future of Ghana. Then you really need to be here. For more information and tickets log on to – http://futureofghana.eventbrite.com

 

Do you have an OPINION, IDEA or BUSINESS that can help shape the Future?

There is only one place to be…

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)