Sports

Ghana mourns legends Afriyie, Kwesi Owusu

Two glowing Ghanaian football legends of different generations – Opoku Afriyie and Kwasi Owusu, have died.

Both were Black Stars’ strikers of the first water during their time.

Afriyie, nicknamed ‘Bayie’, passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2020 in Kumasi, at the age of 65.

Sources say the Ghana legend has been unwell for some time now.

“We can confirm that Opoku Afriyie has passed on. This is unfortunate news to the Porcupine family,” Asante Kotoko Public Relations Officer Kennedy Boakye Ansah, said.

Afriyie played for Kumasi Asante Kotoko for several years before signing for Hearts of Oak prior to ending his footballing career.

He was the top scorer in the Ghana domestic football league in 1979 and again in 1981.

In 1982, he placed eighth on French magazine France Football African Footballer of the Year gong.

Afriyie is among 20 other Ghanaians nominated by CAF out of a total of 200 African footballers for the title of the best African player of the last 50 years

He was a member of the squad that won the 1978 African Cup of Nations making Ghana the first team to win it thrice. The former lethal finisher struck the two goals in the final of that tournament.

After hanging up his boots, Opoku took up roles as team manager and welfare officer of the Black Stars.

He was also named team manager of Kotoko in 2003.

In a related development, the Ghanasoccernet reported that former Ghana international striker Kwesi Owusu passed away on the morning of Monday. He was 72.

His death came barely 24 hours after the passing of Afriyie died.

Popularly known as ‘Powerhouse,’ the former Black Stars captain, was for a long time Ghana’s leading scorer both on the international scene and the domestic league.

Owusu was the nation’s leading international goal scorer with 36 goals until Asamoah Gyan recently took over the mantle.

Ghana Football Association (GFA) President Kurt Okraku paid tribute to the player who was fully loyal to his hometown club Tano Bofoakwa throughout his playing career in the Ghana top-flight by playing for just the side.

He played just six matches in the Ghana top-flight before he was called into the Black Stars squad where his most impact was felt when he scored nine goals in a two-legged match against Niger in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

“Another legend has left us – Kwasi Owusu. You played a big part in the history of the Ghanaian game. May the Almighty God give you eternal rest. Rest in Peace Legend,” Kurt Okraku wrote on Monday morning.

Despite holding the record for Ghana’s top scorer until Asamoah Gyan took over, Owusu never played for any foreign club but local side Bofoakwa Tano throughout his career after joining the club from a lower division side Yara Stars.

He rose to fame after his heroics in the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger by scoring five goals in the first leg and four goals in the return encounter in Niamey in 1969.

The bulky striker scored nine goals in both ties to hand Ghana qualification.

He captained the Black Stars at the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations held in Sudan.

Owusu was part of the 1968 and 1970 squads that lost the finals to Congo Kinshasa and host nation Sudan respectively, scoring four goals.

BY TIMES SPORTS REPORTER

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