If you asked anyone from Ghana in the 1990s about Abedi Pele, his name would have brought responses such as ‘legend’, ‘the African Maradona’ or ‘a pioneer’. To Jordan Ayew, though, he was simply ‘Dad’.
One of the biggest stars in his nation’s history, Pele is seen as the first African footballers to make a substantial mark on the European game during stints in the top tiers of Italy, Germany and France, the latter being where his crowning moment would come as he put in a Man of the Match display in the 1993 UEFA Champions League final for Marseille to claim their only European Cup.
The three-time African Player of the Year would also leave a legacy to Ghanaian football in the form of his three sons – Ibrahim, Andre and Jordan - who have all represented the national team at World Cups. It could have been very different for the youngest Ayew, though, who despite being born into footballing royalty was never forced to become the heir to his father’s throne.
“It was something that happened naturally; Dad never put pressure on us,” Jordan said. “I grew up with my grandparents in Ghana and my mum, dad and brother travelled around wherever my dad went. Then towards the end of his career I followed him too. I was too young to see him in his prime, but I saw him play one or two games towards the end of his career. I’ve heard lots of positive things about him and he talked about his career a bit, but nothing more than that
Just like his brothers, father and even two of his uncles, Jordan’s dream would come true as he became part of the Ayew dynasty when he was approached to tread in his father’s footsteps and join Marseille’s youth ranks. However, it wouldn’t be a friendly word from one of the club’s most legendary figures that would open the doors, instead it was pure pedigree and teenage talent that saw l’OM bend their own rules to snap up the blossoming hot shot. "He kept protecting us and letting us do what we wanted to do to achieve our dreams. He supported us and the whole family, but I was never pressured into football. My brothers and friends in the area would play football like everyone does, and I started playing at school. Naturally you begin to dream that you might become a footballer.”
Reflecting on his early beginnings in the game, Jordan said: “When Andre started playing for Marseille I was happy for him but my dream was to also play football. It was just about enjoying the game, nothing about competitions or anything like that. It was a passion for me; I grew up watching football because it’s something that is in the family. I mostly watched French football, and before I moved the Premier League came to Ghana in around 2001 so I’ve been watching it ever since.
“My dad had a team in Ghana and we played in a tournament in Switzerland. Some scouts were there and I had the opportunity to have a trial with three teams in France. I went to Marseille and was successful, but I had to be 15 to get into the academy, and I was only 13 because I was always playing with the older people in Ghana. There was another team that wanted to take me anyway, but Marseille found a way to put me in, and that’s where everything started.”
Upon his ascension to first team football in the south of France, there were plenty of highs. Ayew’s professional debut would see him score off the bench to help clinch a 2-1 win against Lorient in December 2009, a campaign that ended with the Ligue 1 title and the first of three League Cup successes during his time at the Stade Velodrome, and featured 14 times in the Champions League where the ghost of Pele’s successful 1993 side constantly loomed large.
However, with his brother among other stars blocking his pathway to regular action, Ayew decided to step out of the shadows and make it on his own. “It was a very difficult moment because Marcelo Bielsa was at Marseille and he wanted to keep me but I went to Sochaux for six months on loan to get some minutes ahead of the World Cup and I really enjoyed it.
“When I came back to Marseille I wanted to be a really important player somewhere. In Marseille they had my brother and [Andre-Pierre] Gignac and other really top players, so the only thing I could do was move to a team that would give me an opportunity and responsibility. I could have stayed at Marseille my whole life; I had friends there and it was like my home and I had come through the youth team, so everything was perfect but I didn’t want to just be there and relax, I wanted challenges and to test myself.”
Ayew’s step backwards would eventually propel him two or three forward. He opted for a permanent move to Lorient in the summer of 2014 and would plunder 13 goals in 33 matches to attract the attention of Aston Villa, who were searching for a new striker following Christian Benteke’s departure to Liverpool. Despite dreaming of playing in the Premier League having grown up watching it, he admits he eventually ended up in the division not by choice.
“Funnily enough, I didn’t really want to go to England!” he smiled. “I enjoyed the season I had with Lorient and really wanted to stay another year to continue playing but the money was too good for them so I had to go. I went to Villa which was OK but we were unlucky that we went down, and then went to Swansea City. The following year we were unlucky as well and went down which is something you can’t really explain. I learnt a lot from those moments, and they have made me stronger mentally. It’s something that I don’t wish for anyone.”
Having battled against relegation for the entirety of his time at Villa Park, the Liberty Stadium and partly in SE25, you’d think that the 27-year-old would be immune to pressure, but he believes that scrapping for Premier League points is a world away from 29 million Ghanaians craving success at international level.
“The only pressure I’ve felt was when I came into the national team, because of the pressure from the population,” he admitted. “I’ve not really felt under pressure in Europe where the most important thing for me was just to try and have a career. When I made my national team debut I was very proud because even though I grew up in France, my childhood was in Ghana, so when the opportunity came to play for France youth or Ghana, there was no question for me.It has been 37 years since the Black Stars last lifted the Africa Cup of Nations, when they were spearheaded by none other than Abedi Pele himself, and Jordan admits playing for his nation can be a burden, but it is one he is proud to shoulder.
“I don’t regret it at all, I’m very happy. I have had a lot of experiences with them; I’ve been to four Africa Cup of Nations. I also love that I can say that I have played in a World Cup; it’s a dream for any footballer to play in the biggest competition in the world so it was a proud moment and it’s great to have on my CV. It gives you a lot of confidence as not many players have done it.”
Asante Kotoko will play Ivorian side Societe Omnisports De L' Armee today (Wednesday) at the Baba Yara Stadium in an international friendly.
The Porcupine Warriors want to give their players the requisite international exposure before the start of their CAF Champions League campaign.
The 'Ghanaian champions' were 2-1 winners over Burkinabe side Rahimo FC last Sunday in Kumasi.
Kotoko are billed to face Nigerian side Kano Pillars on 10 August 2019 in the first leg of their preliminary qualifying round.
Watch Asante Kotoko's last training session at the Baba Yara Stadium ahead of the friendly:
The Government’s agenda of revamping the railways to facilitate vibrant economic activities is on course and is still high on its priority projects, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister stated in Accra on Monday.
In that regard, he said government had initiated several projects in the railway sector, stressing that, the Ghana Railway Company Limited had completed the rehabilitation of the 30-kilometre narrow gauge railway line from Accra to Tema, which had enabled the restoration of passenger rail services on the corridor.
Mr Ofori-Atta stated in the presentation of the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy & Supplementary Estimates in Parliament in Accra.
He said the 40-kilometre Achimota to Nsawam line, had been rehabilitated and test runs had commenced in anticipation for the re-launch of the sub-urban commuter rail services from Accra to Nsawam to ease traffic congestion on the corridor.
Mr Ofori-Atta said preparatory activities had commenced for the extension of the narrow-gauge rehabilitation works to Koforidua.
He noted that the engagement of a strategic investor for the development of the 303-kilometre Eastern Railway Line on standard gauge, from Accra to Kumasi with a branch line from Busoso to Atiwa through Kyebi on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis with Ghanaian participation was at the final stages of procurement.
The Finance Minister said the rehabilitation of the Kojokrom-Tarkwa section of the Western railway line was progressing steadily and currently the project was 60 per cent complete and employs over 300 people.
Mr Ofori-Atta stated that work on the construction of the 22 kilometres standard gauge Kojokrom-Manso section of the Western railway was being undertaken in two phases.
“Phase I (Kojokrom- Eshiem) is 45 per cent complete and a major railway bridge is under construction at Eshiem,” he added.
On the Tema-Mpakadan (Akosombo) rail line, Mr Ofori-Atta said significant progress had been made and the status of the project currently stood at about 45 per cent and was expected to be 58 per cent complete by the end of 2019.
He said feasibility studies had also been undertaken on the proposed 670 km Greenfield railway corridor from Kumasi to Paga, popularly known as the Central Spine.
Already, he recalled that a contract was signed for the development of the first phase from Kumasi to Bechem, a distance of about 103 km early this year.
He said the old Railway Training School and two workshops located at Essikadu, had received major refurbishments and facelifts.
“The training school is to be upgraded and equipped with modern teaching and learning facilities to enhance capacity building and skills development for the Railway Sector,” he said
Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) has advised the government to focus on addressing excess power generated by the Independent Power Producers and not renegotiating the take or pay agreements with the producers.
The Executive Director of ACEP, Ben Boakye, said to Citi News that the sector’s real challenge is the reckless signing of power agreements which must be addressed.
“The problem the energy sector has is not because we have take-or-pays. It is because we have excess [capacity]. The problem is the reckless signing of more than we need.”
During the mid-year budget review, the Finance Minister said the country was in a “state of emergency” as far as the energy sector was concerned.
The “obnoxious” take-or-pay contracts were cited as a critical risk to the economy by the Minister.
Ghana’s installed capacity of 5,083 MW is almost double the peak demand of around 2,700 MW.
Of the installed capacity, 2,300 MW has been contracted on a take-or-pay basis meaning Ghana is contractually obliged to pay for the excess capacity though it does not consume it.
“This has resulted in us paying over half a billion U.S. dollars or over GHS 2.5 billion annually for power generation capacity that we do not need,” the Finance Minister said during the budget review.
He noted that the government intended to renegotiate and convert all take-or-pay contracts to take-and-pay contracts.
But Mr. Boakye said the country could also explore other alternatives beyond converting all contracts.
As another option, he suggested that the country could opt out of some contracts “and pay the damages.”
“If you recognise that damages for cancelling the contract is better to wait for five years to pay $1 billion, then you take the option and pay the $200 million to save the difference.”
Gospel musician Brother Sammy has rendered an unqualified apology to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) following his claim of having a cure for a number of diseases including HIV, asthma, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, cancer and diabetes.
The FDA with assistance from the Ashanti Regional Police in June, arrested of the gospel musician to assist in investigations after he was seen in a series of videos advertising a medicine he labeled ‘divine healing water’.
In one of the videos, he was seen mixing DDT with water and his holy water while urging all to buy the medicine as it had cured over 50 people.
A statement released by the Food and Drugs Authority on Saturday, June 22, 2019 announcing his arrest said the gospel artiste had no permit to sell such drugs.
“The FDA wishes to inform the general public that it has not registered any product for the cure of HIV/AIDS, neither has any approval been given to the said artiste for the production and sale of any FDA regulated product,” it said.
Speaking on the issue on Hitz FM’s Daybreak Hitz on Tuesday, Brother Sammy said the said medicine is his grandparent’s. According to him, the grandparent is ‘weak’ hence, reason he decided to protect her legacy.
“I didn’t know the right way. I beg the FDA. They should forgive me. God never gave me that medicine; I lied,” he said.
The FDA had hinted the gospel musician could be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison for flouting the Public Health Act 851 if found guilty.
Public Relation Officer of the Authority, James Lartey disclosed in an interview with SVTV that the musician could also be fined between GH¢90,000 and GH¢180,000 for the offense.
“When you’re found guilty, you can be fined an amount of 7,500 penalty units, one penalty unit is GH¢12 so that’s about GH¢90,000 minimum… the judge can decide that ‘I want to jail you’. The minimum sentence for jailing is 15 years and the maximum sentence is 25 years.”
Dancehall artiste, Shatta Wale has told Ghanaian ladies to be content with what their men have for them.
According to him, they should not follow their friends because that can cause them to lose whatever they have toiled for with their men.
He made this known while speaking on Kumasi-based Abusua FM.
Shatta Wale said “I will advise women to be content with their boyfriends if he’s working and able to provide for you.
Don’t follow friends because they might be envious with what you have”.
Shatta Wale also mentioned that although some great Men of God have worked towards bringing Michy back, she insists she’s no longer interested in Shatta Wale.