2014 World Cup: Ayew brothers prepare to share the stage
Abedi Ayew, known popularly as Abedi Pele, was undoubtedly one of the finest footballers ever to come out of Africa.
During a career spanning some 20 years, the attacking midfielder won the UEFA Champions League with Marseille, the CAF Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana and was named African Player of the Year on three occasions. The one thing that was denied him was a spot at the FIFA World Cup finals as the Black Stars did not qualify until 2006 – eight years after his international retirement.
However, the great one has been well represented by his progeny as three of his sons – Andre, Ibrahim and Jordan – have played for the Black Stars and each have now gone to a World Cup finals with the side. While the eldest of the trio Ibrahim was an unused member of the 2010 squad, midfielder Andre starred in South Africa and figures to be a force for the west Africans in Brazil; where Jordan has every chance of seeing his fair share of minutes up front.
Ghana faced Germany in the group phase and the USA in the Round of 16 in South Africa and will come up against the same two opponents, as well as Portugal, in Group G at the finals this time around. It’s a brutal task, but 24-year-old Andre says the side are up for the challenge.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to be at the World Cup, and the tough group just makes it more exciting to play in the tournament,” said the Marseille playmaker. “We are not favourites in the group, but when we come out of it, we will make Ghanaians happy. We have the quality and the mentality.
“What matters most is for all to be fit. All the teams are tough and we cannot underestimate any of them. Everyone says we are going to beat the USA. We beat them in 2006 and 2010 and you can be sure that for that reason, they will want to avenge those defeats now, and that makes it dicey.”
For younger brother Jordan, Brazil will be the first time that he has made the Black Stars squad for a global tournament, and the 22-year-old is particularly pleased that he will share the experience with his older brother and Marseille teammate.
“It’s a good feeling to be in the Ghana team with my brother because I haven’t played a big tournament like the World Cup before,” Jordan said. “In 2010, I watched him at home. Now I am here with him in the same team.”
Jordan has fond memories of playing on the same international team with Andre in 2012 when they both made the Black Stars squad for the AFCON in Gabon, where the the Ghanaians finished fourth.
“But the best moment in playing with my brother in the same team was when he scored a hat-trick and I scored one goal in the same game (during Marseille’s 4-2 win against Nice in April 2011). It was the happiest moment I shared with him,” he said.
In the same season, the club came very close to winning the league, but were beaten into second place by Lille. For Jordan it remains a low point of his career. “Losing the league title in 2010/11 must have been the most difficult moment for us both together,” he recalls.
At the beginning of this year, it appeared as if a seat on the plane to Brazil was well beyond the reach of the youngest of the footballing brothers. While Andre was getting regular playing-time with Marseille throughout the 2013/14 season, Jordan was being used mainly as a late substitute. A loan switch to Sochaux saw Jordan make 16 starts in 17 Ligue 1 appearances and impress national team coach Kwesi Appiah enough to be selected for Brazil 2014.
Jordan credits Sochaux coach Herve Renard, who took Zambia to success at the 2012 AFCON tournament, for playing a major part in a season that saw him score five league goals for Les Lionceaux.
“I had a good season with them and it was my target to play at the World Cup and everything went well,” Jordan said “The playing time and the confidence of the coach made my season that successful.”
Ghana face South Korea in Miami tonight in their final game before making the journey to Brazil ahead of their opening game of the tournament against USA on June 16. A tournament where Jordan, like his brother Andre, hope to achieve something that was denied to their famous father – finding the net at the World Cup finals.