2014 World Cup: Ghana's Kwadwo Asamoah seeks to bury memory of 2010 heartbreak
If the last World Cup holds only memories of heartbreak for Ghana’s Kwadwo Asamoah, this time round he is stronger, wiser and could be the key player if the Black Stars are to make good on their frustrated ambitions.
Asamoah played in the quarter-final against Uruguay in Johannesburg in 2010 when a Luis Suarez goal-line handball, a missed penalty by team mate Asamoah Gyan and a defeat in the subsequent penalty shoutout denied the Black Stars the honour of becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals.
Since then the versatile midfielder, nicknamed Kojo, has moved to Italian club Juventus and has been in great form this season as Juve pushed for a third successive Serie A title.
He also played a leading role in helping Ghana qualify for Brazil. But he will need to be at his best there – Ghana are in a tough Group G, facing Germany, Portugal and the United States.
The Accra-born Asamoah is already a veteran international at the age of 25, having made his debut at 17 in 2006.
He now has 59 caps, scoring four times, for the Black Stars and was lauded as Ghana Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
First spotted playing for Accra side Kaaseman at 17, he joined Liberty Professionals then moved to the Swiss side Bellinzona when he was still only 19. He then moved to Italy’s Udinese and was signed up by Juventus in 2012.
Since then he has flourished, helping Juve win the Italian league in 2012-13 and cup in 2012 and 2013.
Manager Antonio Conte recently described him as “irreplaceable” and he has just signed a new four-year contract with them.
For Juventus, he has dropped back to play at left-back, though he still pushes forward to score goals – a stunning strike against Fiorentina in March being a fine example.
He plays in a more central role for Ghana, linking the midfield and attack, and has grown into the team’s mastermind. He is aware that if Ghana are to banish the memory of 2010, a lot of it will be down to him.
“I am one of the key players in my country and I will give it my all to ensure make it out of the group,” he told the BBC.
“We will sing in our team bus and create the union that is required to excel at this level.”